In the past couple weeks, I have seen people suffer loss four times.
About a week and a half ago, my college roommate from my freshman year of college lost his mother. She was a woman of grace and strength, a daughter of missionaries, and one who had all the time in the world for each person she met. I recall only a couple of times I encountered Lois, but I knew her to be very kind-hearted and giving; she made you feel like the most important person in the world. Lois fell gravely ill near their home in North Carolina and ended up in a coma from which she couldn't awake. A full life of about seventy years, a woman well loved and lovely, she lived well and died well. But still my heart goes out to my friend. No matter what, death leaves an ache, a void, and in a way, things are never the same.
Then a couple of days ago, I heard from a former student and friend who lives in Indiana. After years of trying to get pregnant, she and her husband rejoiced around the new year that they were now expecting. But that only began a roller coaster of pain. On January 23rd, the doctor could not detect a heartbeat, and Rebecca and Tom were crushed. The next week, though, the doctor wanted to check once more and a heartbeat of their little one was detected! Hope prevailed, but only for a little while. The week after that, it was confirmed the baby didn't have a heartbeat any more, and Rebecca had miscarried.
Even institutions aren't immune: My former employer in Florida, Wellington Christian School, was facing dire financial straits and declining enrollment since 2008, and they had announced this year that it would be the end of days for the high school (although they were hopeful of continuing pre-K through 8th grade). Yet this past week, WCS looked at all the options and decided nothing was feasible, and the entire school would be closing at the end of the 2013-14 year. A community of students and families and teachers, vaporized by lack of resources. No one likes to see that happen, either.
And then about a week ago, Adrian Bowman sat at a table at DeSmet Jesuit High School here in St. Louis, beaming with pride and signing a letter of intent to play football locally for Lindenwood University. Sunday morning, Adrian was found dead in his home. Although DeSmet has not released information about the cause of death, several of my students who had met Adrian and who have friends at DeSmet have said (without anything further being said) Adrian died "tragically."
Four grievous moments of loss. The aching void of sadness and grief erupts as those who have lost ones they love know that life will never be completely the same. We all grieve in different ways; my deepest hope (as one who knows this well) is that we can grieve redemptively.
It is then that the words of my former student, my grieving friend Rebecca, ring most true, where she reminds us of the biblical truth that "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." No timeline is promised, but that's not the main point. And yes, of course, Rebecca wishes that Jesus had caused her baby to live. But, says Rebecca, "he said those words to me. I'm not going to say that is enough, because in this broken world, nothing will be enough until the day all is made right. But for now, there is comfort and peace. There is a God who kneels down to hold my hand. And that in itself is a miracle."
Loss will come. There will be reprieves from it, there will be trickles of it, and there will be floods of it. The question is can we face loss redemptively and encourage others--in our own way--to do the same?