As you may have read on Facebook a couple of days ago, it has been a tragic couple of weeks for my family. About a week and a half ago, my Aunt Louise was killed in a car accident. This past Thursday, my cousin Christian died in a car accident as well. Both are my mom’s side of the family. Both left behind children. Both are very loved.
I was hesitant to post on Facebook, because I wasn’t really sure I wanted to open something so personal up on a medium that invites so many people to respond however they so choose. I was afraid that people I don’t even know would comment (they did) and that people who don’t know me well or at all would say the annoying things (they did) (to be fair, I know they were trying to be helpful). But even though the comment “Stay positive! The children will be fine!” from someone I’ve never even met made me cringe (I’m pretty sure “stay positive” is the absolute worst piece of advice in any difficult or tragic situation. Also? How do you know the children will be fine? You know nothing about them or the situation), I ultimately decided that it was selfish not to solicit prayer for our hurting family. In the end, I was thankful and humbled by so many thoughtful friends who have covered us in prayer. It’s really awesome to have so many people near and far say that they are praying for our family.
The strange thing is that I found myself feeling uncomfortable with all of the condolences. While I was nothing but appreciative for all of the prayers and support, I think I felt selfish that people were comforting me. It’s like I feel I cannot take credit for the level of mourning that their children are experiencing, and I feel guilty if anyone thinks that I am on that same level. I loved my aunt. And I loved my cousin. But their immediate families are the ones in so much unbearable pain. I only saw each of them at rare family gatherings (we live far away from both families). So my mourning hasn’t exactly been for myself, but for
their immediate families. My heart aches and my eyes sting when I think about my cousin who is 9 months pregnant and is about to deliver her first child into the world without her parents to rejoice beside her; who will be simultaneously filled with joy over her son’s arrival and grieving the death of her mother. I hurt when I think about my Aunt Lois having to bury her 21 year old son. I want to scream when I think about baby CJ, less than a year old, who will grow up without knowing his Father, Christian. It just doesn’t seem fair.
And that’s because it’s not. I am reminded of something that one of my favorite Bible teachers, Steve Brown, says in one of his seminary lectures:
“Nothing lasts. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is fair. And you’re not home yet.”
Nothing lasts. Time flies by like the blink of an eye. Ecclesiastes says that our lives are but a vapor. When something is wonderful, it may be hard that it doesn’t last. But when something is awful or hard or sad or painful, I am thankful to remember that nothing in this fallen world will last.
Nothing is perfect. We cannot expect perfection post-Eden. God created everything to be perfect. But we (human beings), starting with our father Adam, chose not to trust God and His perfect creation of the world and relationships. We decided that we would rather be god of our own lives and live however we choose (i.e. not submitting to a higher authority telling us what to do). And so perfection ended on Earth. Everything is tainted with sin, and therefore had to be separated from God. Death was now a part of life. And it was never supposed to be. God created us for eternal life in relationship with Him. That is why death is so incredibly painful. It just isn’t right. And we know that in the depths of our souls. It just isn’t right. Life is not supposed to end. We are not supposed to have people we love taken from us. So, in a sense, we never quite recover from losing a person we love. Even when our intellect fails to understand, it’s as if our bodies and the natural make-up of who we are understands that this is not how it is supposed to be. That there had to be some other plan.
Nothing is fair. Because we live in a world tainted with sin, we cannot expect things to be fair. Along with sin came complete brokenness of everything. After sin, illness, pain, broken relationships, disasters, atrocities, suffering, violence, and evil entered the world. And we see this everyday. If not in our neighborhood, then definitely in the news. But if we look hard enough, in our neighborhood and as close as our own home as well. Fairness doesn’t exist. Well, it may exist in the smallest ways here and there where we get a glimpse of our God’s goodness and the way that life was originally intended to be. But overall, fairness doesn’t exist as a generality. It isn’t fair that one woman can get pregnant while another cannot. It is not fair for one person to be born healthy while another is born deathly ill. It’s not fair that one 11 year old girl is watching Hannah Montana after school while another 11 year old girl has been sold into sex slavery. It’s not fair that one woman gives birth to her child with both of her parents by her side while another woman gives birth to her first child without them. It’s not fair that one boy grows up knowing his father while another lost his to a car accident before he even turned one.
You’re not home yet. The good news is, this is not home. The God of the Universe is good. He had every right to leave us to complete destruction. That would be completely just of Him. We left Him, so He could have just left us! That’s what we wanted, anyway. But He didn’t. Even when we hated Him, He loved us. We had the opportunity to get our act together and serve Him sinless and selflessly but we did not. So He did it for us. Like a parent who pays off the debt that their child has acquired, or who bails their child out of jail, God paid our debt. At a very steep price. The price of the Son He loved more than anything. He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world, born into humanity. He faced every temptation and tribulation that we do and yet remained sinless, always worshiping God the Father. Then he took on death. And not just any death, death on a cross. The most excruciating, humiliating death possible to man. He was mocked and laughed at by the ones he came to love and save. Death is not foreign to God. He knows the pain of it. He knows what it is like to die a human death, and he knows what it is like to mourn the death of a loved one (when his friend Lazarus died, he wept- John 11:35). But that is not the end of the story! Home is not a place where death exists, and for those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, we are not home yet. 3 days after Jesus was killed, he rose from the dead. This proved his divinity and offers us a hope that is more than we could ever hope for! The hope of life. The hope of restored relationship with God. He took our place, paying the debt that we owed God- a perfect life and death of sin. When we call on Jesus as Lord, God sees Jesus’ perfect life in us. It is credited to us. We couldn’t earn it, and we never have to. It’s a free gift. And it comes with a promise, an inheritance. The promise is this: This life is not all there is. The world of sin and destruction will not last. God is making all things new! He is a God of restoration and peace. He is in the business of redeeming everything back to Himself, just like it was in Eden. One day, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no sin, no pain, no broken relationships, and no death (Revelation 21)! The living and the dead that are His will be fully restored to a relationship with God in the fullest sense.
So I’m not going to stay positive in a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or a “think positive things and you’ll feel better” way. That is garbage. We don’t even have bootstraps to pull ourselves up by, we lost those a long time ago. For my family, this just sucks. It is hard. No positive thought or attitude can erase the heaviness of losing family. So I find comfort in knowing that death isn’t right. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. But I’m not home yet. And at “home” everything is restored, as it should be <3.
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers! Please keep praying for my family.