Saturday morning, three of our families experienced one of the worst tragedies in recent memory as a car suddenly and inexplicably swerved across oncoming traffic to take the life of their beloved wife and mother, daughter and sister, aunt and cousin… Brittany was just 38, and her death will change the lives of all of these and many more, the way a tornado reaches down and strikes a community.
Words fail. Theologies fall silent. Just three days before, I had concluded a biblical survey of “What kinds of help we can expect from God,” and while I stand with the Church in claiming those promises, in times like this we all feel the limits of our human attempts to address tragedy with theology. As I met with the family, the “felt need” was to sit together in wordlessness and just try to absorb it… hold hands, look deeply into one another’s eyes and say “I love you” a lot.
That same evening, I looked ahead at the scriptures I am assigned to preach on a month from now and was grateful to read:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice!—Psalm 130
God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them.—Solomon 1 and 2
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases… he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.—Lamentations 3
As Jim Dant told us when he announced his upcoming heart surgery: God is not our enemy. In times like these, we turn to God not so much for answers but for the assurance that God does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone, is full of compassion, and is working for good. Please pray with me that God will make us emissaries of those assurances.