Two weeks ago my sister-in-law, Barb, was murdered near her home in Ontario, Canada.
The circumstances surrounding her death are very tragic. A suspect has been arrested. She left her husband, my half-brother Pat, and their three sons. Of her death, there is no more I wish to say at this time.
As I went to be with Pat for the funeral, I thought of the terrible tsunami: an unsuspected fault in the depths of the ocean … a tidal wave that snuffed out 200,000 plus lives … the landscapes of thousands of families changed forever.
Now another “tsunami” has just as suddenly ravaged this one family.
When everything crumbles away, we ask:
Where is there a place to stand?
What is left behind?
And how do we start over?
Only one answer even begins to help: the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ. At Barb’s service I read Paul’s inspired words:
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
This Scripture does not say that God causes these terrible events. It does say that in all things he works out his purpose, so that we might ourselves bear the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ. And it tells us that with Jesus God will graciously give us all things: grace to stand when the ground seems to give way under us; grace that remains when so much is lost; grace to begin again, when we just want to curl up and die.
I also read some words from Julian of Norwich, that fourteenth century English woman who after a life-threatening illness wrote about Jesus’ “shewings” to her of God’s unconditional love.
Because of our good Lord’s tender love to all those who shall be saved, he
quickly comforts them, saying, ‘The cause of all this pain is sin. But all shall
be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’ *These words
were said so kindly and without a hint of blame to me or to any who shall be
saved. So how unjust it would be for me to blame God for allowing my sin
when he does not blame me for falling into it.
In these words I saw the deep, high mystery of God which he will show to us
in heaven. Then we shall understand why he allowed sin to be. And in knowing
this we shall have endless joy in God.
January 20, 2005
(*These words are often quoted. They are found on a plaque in Westminster Abbey, and were used by T. S.Eliot to close his great poem Four Quartets.)