It happened one year ago today. I will never forget the moment I heard the news and slumped down against the cold, hard wall into a puddle of tears there in that unfamiliar place with people I had only just met.
I felt lost and alone.
My cousin’s car accident and immediate death was no surprise to God, but it took me by storm. My mind has since replayed the memories from that night, and of other nights from the past . . .
. . . when that tornado took the lives of three of my dear friends . . .
. . . when the neighbor’s house went up in flames . . .
. . . when my soldier-cousin was killed by a sniper . . .
What do we do with these harsh realities of life? With the questions that naturally emerge? With the pain and heartache welling up inside us and those we love that we so desperately want to relieve?
Why must tears accompany life lessons? Why the pain with the reminder that life is short, eternity is long, and Jesus is worth it all? Couldn’t there be some easier way to walk this narrow road?
Perhaps you will find comfort in knowing that even Jesus, in His darkest hour of suffering, asked the same question.
On the eve of His crucifixion, He was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He pleaded with the Father to make a different way possible to accomplish His will. His Spirit was willing but His flesh was weak.
Yet Jesus did not let the flesh overcome the Spirit.
“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matt. 26:42) Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath, so accomplishing all that the Father willed.
I’m sure you’ve lived through your own worst nightmare or received that dreaded phone call. But it is possible, dear friends, to not be overcome by it all–by the suffering and the hurt and the despair that envelops us as a result of living in this fallen world.
In what would be one of the last moments with His disciples before His death, Jesus took the time to impart to them a living hope in the face of defeat and despair: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
What are “these things” Jesus speaks of? His imminent death! Their deep sorrow! Yet they shall find peace? What kind of inspirational parting words are, “Take, heart! You will have tribulation!”?
These “tribulations” we grapple with don’t have to be personal struggles or losses. It could be the thousands of refugees forced from their homes by war and famine. It could be the hundreds of pastors and Christian leaders who have resigned because of scandal and infidelity. It could be the untold number of babies murdered every day in the name of “freedom.”
What do we do in the wake of these tragedies? As difficult and heartless as it may sound, the believer must respond to sorrow in the same way as to joy:
- We keep our eyes on Jesus
- We give thanks
- We glory in His Name
It’s that simple. But it’s not easy.
On nights when I can’t sleep, when my heart is heavy and my eyes weepy, when my mind is cluttered with the mismatched puzzle pieces that somehow form a picture of this journey we call life, I find that there is still hope–because Jesus is still alive.
Because in Jesus and only in Jesus, there is hope in the hopeless. Peace in the disarray. Comfort in the confusing. Joy in the heartache.
So Father, will You draw us nearer to You? Help us cling to Your promise of rest for the weary and heavy-laden. May we be devoted to carrying our cross and let You carry our burdens.
Let Your river of peace flow through us, that we may be washed in Your grace rather than drown in our grief.
Thank You for caring. And for carrying our griefs and our sorrows. Thank You for fully sympathizing with us in all things.
Thank You for weeping over death, and over lost souls. Thank You for bottling up our tears, and wiping every one of them from our eyes.
Thank you for a future of no more tears, or sorrow, or pain, or fear, but of an eternity with You–our living hope, our Prince of Peace.