Tragedy gored into our family’s life this month. Friends lost their two-year-old without warning, and we are all still numb from the sudden goodbye.
Death severs assumptions. There is fear and searching. Clinging ever more tightly to Christ’s empty grave, the sole barricade against despair– if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied! But hard reflection happens only in the corners of thought I can spare (empty stomachs and skinned knees wait for no man) or that I even want to spare. How deeply can I lower myself into grief when I have my own three children to shepherd through the day?
Then there is a surprising sense of guilt, for as I shepherd those precious three, I find myself fretting over the same things as before. Maybe I assumed that loss would be immediately transformative. After you witness death you don’t grumble anymore, because at least your kids are alive, right? You just savor every moment with them because it’s all a treasure, no matter how crazy it feels? And how could you ever wish things were different, easier, when your friend had to bury her own daughter just last week? Yet motherhood will drain anyone at any time. You can choose whole-heartedly to do it, be so thankful to do it, and still wrestle deeply with its difficulty. You can know what a privilege it is to have healthy children, but at the end of the day wilt under the burden of their incessant needs.
No. Tragedy shifts the lens, but will not remove your own trials. And maybe more to the point, it will not magically renew your anxious complaining heart. It’s a long walk toward holiness. I know God’s people can experience mountaintops of glory, or a drastic event may produce an equally drastic change, but plodding is the norm. Truth often needs time to germinate. Experience seems to build up layer by layer, until you turn a corner and realize that at some point, you walked into stronger faith, more genuine love, a deeper fellowship with Christ.
So that’s me, plodding. That’s us. But of course we know the one who walks beside us, the one who has never been afraid to accompany his people through the wilderness or on a path of mourning.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.