Grief. . . and God. . .

Things are not the way they’re supposed to be. God’s good creation has been broken, marred, and distorted by sin. Death is now part of our lives. Perhaps we put off the thoughts until the tragedy of death hits home. . . or close to home. After a weekend where thoughts of brokenness and death stepped front and center from so many different directions, I read these words from Paul Tripp this morning: “God reveals in His Word all the things that you need to know, but He does not tell you all the things that could be known.”

Last week, we were all hit by death when the news of what had happened in Pittsburgh became known. In our community here, that was news piled on top of already difficult realities. On Friday, an after-school accident took the lives of two young high-schoolers in front of their school as they were heading home for the weekend. Both had been in my daughter’s elementary class where she teaches. Just a couple of days before that, the teenage daughter of a local Facebook friend took her own life after battling depression. And at the beginning of the week, Lisa and I met a young lady who’s brother-in-law had drowned two days prior in a freak boating accident while fishing.

In the darkness of death, where do we find hope?

This morning, I read two moving posts from local moms. . . one who lost her son in last week’s car accident, and the other from the mother of the teenage girl who took her own life and who is being buried today. . .

First. . .  Many of you know that our son Jack was killed on Friday in the accident. Precious Megan later lost her life as well. Rylan is pulling through and showing some positive signs but he has a long road ahead of him. We are pouring through the cards, voice messages, texts and Facebook messages. The outpouring of love from everyone near and far has truly sustained us. We love you all and please know Jesus is our strength. Jack knew Jesus. I know he wasn’t always walking with the Lord but the Lord was always walking with him. Because of that, he is healed and whole and in heaven. We miss our buddy so much. It’s an indescribable ache. It’s going to be a long hard road but our grief will become smaller over time and the joy of knowing him will become larger over time. We want you to know your love has given us enormous comfort. Thank you to all of you! We thank you so much.

And second. . . The last several days have been a surreal nightmare of exhaustion and excruciating heartache. A revolving door of family and friends. Countless tears, endless hugs. Broken kids. We don’t know how to live without our beautiful girl. Our hearts are in shreds. On this day, our final goodbye, God in His ever-timely compassion stunned me with these lyrics as I turned on my Pandora early this morning. Words that could not be more fitting.

“When I go, don’t cry for me
In my father’s arms I’ll be
The wounds this world left on my soul will all be healed, and I’ll be whole
Sun and moon will be replaced with the light of Jesus’ face
And I will not be ashamed, for my Saviour knows my name
It don’t matter where you bury me
I’ll be home and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away…”

Three powerful sets of words that are oh-so-true have been playing through my mind this morning. I trust that God will use them to serve me, lead me, and comfort me when death visits close to home. Perhaps the unshakable truths they tell will comfort you.

First, these words from the Heidelberg Catechism that we often recite during worship here in our home church on Sunday morning. . .

Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Second, these words sung by our friend James Ward and the choir at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga. . .

And third, these words from our friends Cameron and Lauren Cole. . . whose 3-year-old son Cam unexpectedly went to be with Christ. . .

And so we know that God has conquered death and in that we take comfort.

What we don’t know is the answer to the question we ask over and over and over again: “Why?”

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