Well, I just started this blog and have already taking a longer break than I anticipated. It started by taking a few days away from work as my wife’s sister and her husband came into town and continued on through Veterans Day yesterday. Thank you to all who served in war, especially those who had no choice.
Them being here lead to an idea for a post that I had for a while, but wasn’t sure I really wanted to write about. Back in August, my sister in law was due with their first child in a few weeks when suddenly the child died. Apparently he had an issue with the umbilical cord. When my wife called me to tell me there was a problem, I thought worst case scenario, he’d be born premature (my wife’s sister, my brother and I were all born earlier in pregnancy), so I really didn’t give it a second thought. I had no idea that there was such a thing as cord issues or that baby could still die this late in pregnancy.
I suppose I was also a bit naive. A week prior, my brother’s wife had to have emergency surgery due to an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage and her having one of her fallopian tubes removed. For some reason, I felt as if since one bad thing had already happened, another would couldn’t. Obviously, that is not the way the world works and so while one of my sister in laws is recovering from surgery the other is being told she has lost her son and tragically will still have to go through labor. She delivered Daniel earlier the next morning.
Later they decided it would be good for them to get away from everyone one and come visit us (we are about a 12 hour drive away) and that is why they were here over the weekend. Now obviously, I can’t imagine they pain and anger they felt. Outside of my grandmother dying about a year and a half ago, I have never experienced death. They, on the other hand, had experienced what many people consider the worst loss, the death of a child.
Talking with my brother in law (well, technically my sister in law’s husband, but that is harder to saw) this weekend, I began to realize more of the frustration that comes with tragedy. He is understandably angry with God; but he also realizes that God didn’t kill Daniel. Recognizing God’s sovereignty, he is angry that God didn’t intervene and save Daniel. So he struggles with the question of why, why did this happen?
The answer, in my mind, leads to more frustration because it is so utterly unsatisfying: we live in a broken world. I think my brother in law knows this. I think he knows that this wasn’t some punishment for his sins or divine retribution, but instead that death is a just a part of life. Outside of the Garden, tragedy happens. Away from paradise, there are murderers and rapist, 30 year olds get cancer, people bomb buildings, storm surges kill thousands and umbilical cords get tangled. And really, that just sucks. It is not comforting during times of loss. It does not encourage us emotionally, but instead reminds us that we could be, at any moment, seconds away from death and tragedy.
My pastor likes to say that life was great in the first two pages of the Bible and will be again during the last two, but in between is terrible as we experience loss and separation from God. I suppose in times of tragedy we should be reminded that one day we will experience no death; that we will walk with God and worship him for eternity. It should give us hope for the future and of Christ’s return. We should be reminded that our time is short and that we are commanded to go to every nation preaching the Gospel. Instead of renewed hope I think most people experience hopelessness; instead of looking to the future the dwell in the past and what could have been; instead of vigor for those without Christ, they feel apathy and the sinking feeling that life is pointless.
Our models for this include Job who continued to praise God and even Christ who asked forgiveness of those who crucified Him. Most people fail to meet these standards; I know I would in the face of tragedy, I usually do just in the face of minor inconvenience.