I don’t know if anyone is equipped for these losses, but I feel so utterly bereft when grief comes. For, pain sometimes accompanies the price of love and connection. I am so glad to pay it because it means I have fully attached my heart to another, but it is so costly.
Recently, one of the communities I have chosen to journey deeply with—my church-- has experienced two incredibly painful tragedies. The first is a young woman whose life ended through domestic violence. Her husband lost his life that night, too, eventually. In that moment, two little girls were left orphaned in one instant of madness, pain, and evil. It is almost too much to take in.
Next, a dear servant in this same community collapsed the very next week during our last session of worship at VBS. She was a tireless, endless warrior for the evangelism of children. She had remarked to me that week when we were serving together that “VBS was the highlight of [her] year.” When most people are just trying to make it through the wild and wonderful craziness that is VBS, she was living life exhilarated because of it! What a glorious testimony and what pain that we have now lost her.
In our larger world, we have had the Baghdad, Bangladesh, and Nice murders in the last several weeks. And, now we have the horrid tragedies happening in America clamoring around us. And, many, many more continue to suffer around the globe, as well, because of every imaginable evil, be it starvation, rape, murder, sickness, oppression, and so on.
With all of this, my spirit just sighs and wonders if I can keep going in the midst of this harshness, this fragility of life, this chaos, this sadness. Sometimes, I wonder if I can keep breathing through it because the pain is so tangible and stifling.
Can I just say that I am not okay with this? I hate this reality of death and sin and the seeming unfairness of it all.
Nevertheless, I am reminded that my God is not satisfied either with the way of this world. He is not okay with this evil we live with and that we even experience in our own hearts. His vision was Eden, and I think that my soul is long remembering it. The imprint of His reflection on me remembers the lost Eden we came from where there was no sin, no evil, no loss, no pain, no sickness, no death. And, I long for that home.
There is good news, though, for God is leading us to a restored Eden, reclaiming for us what was lost when Eve chose to go her own way and misuse the freedom God gave her and Adam. Ever since the heavens were rent apart and started groaning at that very moment, God, the great I Am, has been writing the larger story of Eden Redeemed.
It started with Israel’s redemption. The gift of their Passover lamb foreshadowed the Passover Lamb to come. “‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’” (John 1:29) Through Him-- Jesus, we found our ultimate redemption on the Cross. Then came the Empty Tomb, where death was vanquished. There, God rebuked all graves for their deadness and caused them to be final no more.
And, it is still happening today, as He leads His church, His people, to sing the song of Eden and Redemption to all those who are still struggling in this groaning, broken, beautiful land. It is because of this, His labor for us, that we can keep breathing in the light of losing our loved ones and somehow bear the continued suffering in this world.
May we breathe in Him, Truth, as we walk forward day by day in the hardness of this life. For, platitudes will never satisfy, only a Truth grounded in reality can sustain our spirits— a Truth that knows of a bloody, costly, yet victorious cross. And, may we rest knowing that those who are in Jesus are with Him now and weep no more.