Saturday, February 23, 2008


A tragedy happened on our campus this week. One of our students died Thursday from injuries sustained in a car accident. The day we found out, we gathered as a campus community to pray, to cry together, to speak words of lament and words of promise, and to sing together.

There is something about the sound of singing that is so gentle, and that gentleness stood in stark contrast to the raw and open wound of grief we felt at the same time. On the one hand, there are all the questions, not understanding why one so young had to die, why such random things happen at all, why God in his love could not have stopped this. On the other hand, there are the promises of God, which we were reminded, are for times exactly like this. Times when, despite all evidence to the contrary, we continue to believe, continue to hold on to hope, continue to trust that the one who promises to preserve our lives will do so even in the face of death.

Though it is complicated in ways I don’t understand, I find that it is only in the Christian faith I am able to hold such opposites together. In A Grace Disguised, Gerald Sittser talks about the loss of his wife, his mother, and four-year-old daughter in an accident. He says,
“Sorrow enlarges the soul until it is capable of mourning and rejoicing simultaneously, of feeling the world’s pain and hoping for the world’s healing at the same time” (p. 63).
In moments like this, we feel the world’s pain keenly. And as we walk through the darkness of grief, I pray that God would allow us the grace of holding alongside that grief the hope for healing at the same time. Hope for the day when the sound of singing will at last and forever drown out the sounds of crying and every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth will be together united in joy before the throne of the Lamb who is worthy, whose death forever makes us live.

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