My heart breaks for the people of Afghanistan & Haiti as they wrestle with the raw reality of severe injury, injustice, and incomprehension. Babies and children crushed under collapsing walls and stampeding people, take human sorrow to unimaginable depths of darkness.
Revelation (last Bible book) was originally written to people under severe persecution. Some didn’t know if they’d see their loved ones or daylight again, whole families rounded up to refute their faith or face torture and termination. At times the only appropriate response to someone’s grief is silence and tears, for there are no words adequate for the situation. Indeed, awkward words and rushed answers to impossible questions can just get in the way and stop sore suffocating hearts find the air to pain and name the awful emotions (EG. Anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, etc) that threaten to overwhelm them.
What Genesis and Revelation (1st & last Bible books) give us is a context and bigger picture within which to see the good, bad, ugly, awful, and wonderful experiences of life and living on planet earth. These Bible book ends give us insight into: 1. why we were made: for harmonious loving relationships (with God, within, with one another and with planet earth); 2. why and how things can go so wrong (sin, selfishness and a determination to do life without God); and 3. how fulltime is coming, beyond which comes a glorious wedding between God’s People (bride) and Jesus (groom), plus a merging of heaven and earth.
I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband. 3-5 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.” (Revelation 21:2-5 / MSG)
The vision and hope of Heaven can help us to die well, but it is also designed to help us live well ‘here and now’, bringing heaven to earth now in our living and loving, service and sacrifice. And for those of us in the middle of disorientating mess, madness, and mayhem, such a broader, deeper, and higher story, within which to recognise ourselves, allows us to tap into a long history of lament. It can help us to see our tragically deceased children in God’s hands and allow them to grow up in God’s nearer presence. The promise of the Heaven that Christ’s death and resurrection have won for us can give hope’s light and help us put one foot in front of the other to journey through a seeming impenetrable fog of grief.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy! In our grief may we sense your tears mingling with ours. In our unbelief, disbelief, and helplessness, may we receive your comfort and courage. Loving Father, who knows the heart break of giving your son over to cruel killers, assure us of Your undying Love; Lord Jesus, who was unjustly crushed and killed for our saving, saturate us in your healing forgiveness; Healing Spirit, like a dove, gently descend to calm fear, clear guilt, and give all in transit and trauma their next step to take in trust. Help us all to live in the light of Heaven, which You paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure for us. Amen.