When Grief calls my Name

25/04/2019 21:10

It happened on a day of celebration. Without warning. It happened to them, it happened to us. It happened to all of us—in the human family. Easter Sunday. 8.45 a.m. in Sri Lanka. A deadly massacre in cold blood of 253 men, women and children—Sri Lankans worshipping that day, who should have gone home rejoicing; visitors to our country who should be still enjoying Sri Lanka’s warm hospitality. 500 injured in a number of co-ordinated bomb blasts. So just as 9/11 brought dark shadows and a changed future for the whole world, 21/04/19 brought death, destruction, fear, unspeakable horror and grief to the beautiful island I call home. It changed our land forever.
I grew up in Sri Lanka in the sixties and seventies. We were blessed to enjoy a happy childhood. It was a paradise island where time stood still, godly values were upheld and where freedom reigned. We were not rich by modern standards, but had everything we needed to thrive and grow. Love and laughter, family and friends, fun and fresh air, oceans and beaches, peace, joy, security. These were priceless gifts I will never take for granted. Later, in my twenties—dark  clouds hovered over our beautiful island as ethnic conflict tore its peace. Twenty Six years of it. Too long. Far too long. Brutal. But finally … it ended. Peace was a beautiful covering over our beautiful country.
But now? In the blink of an eye, Terror came to visit, carrying the scissors of devastation. It tore open the wounds that had slowly begun to heal.  Bombs. Blood. Horror. Death. Destruction. How could this be? Who? What? Why? Where? Senseless. With no rhyme or reason. Perhaps because we were an easy target. But now … fear and terror has marched in where peace had once reigned.
What do we do when we are plunged into deep darkness? When God seems far away? When the light that shone yesterday has been snuffed out in a moment? We might presume with sadness that God could not exist because Evil has been elected as our new Dictator. We might turn our backs on a God who hasn’t stepped in to help us. We could mock faith as unsubstantiated and untrue.
But there is a better way. A much better way. We can throw ourselves on God’s mercy and love as we pause to remember that time after time after time, He has been faithful. We can discover Him afresh through our pain. We can find the comfort and strength that only He can give.
Who can understand why human beings perpetrate such atrocities? Men and women born with the greatest capacity to love perform instead unspeakable acts of evil against one another. We cannot begin to understand the suffering of a mother who had her child torn from her arms in an instant, the pain of a father whose entire family is killed before his eyes. I can’t imagine what it must feel to have part of my body ripped apart by shrapnel. I wouldn’t begin to understand the suffering of those who sang in church that morning with Easter joy in their hearts only to leave with terror and grief as their constant companions.
I weep for Sri Lanka. I stand with my brothers and sisters of all ethnic and religious groups in our island as they suffer. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I do know that as sure as the sun rises each morning, that the same God who conquered sin and death is with us in our hour of grief. Jesus came to the world to suffer unimaginable pain. He understands our suffering. He was rejected by the very people he came to save. He was given a criminal’s death on a cross—a long slow death. The sins of the whole world were piled on Him. What a weight he carried on that cross!
The Militants who decided to mock at life have failed miserably. It may have been a day of destruction, but Easter’s Resurrection Bell clangs loudly with the message of victory. LIFE overcame death at Easter. If I had eyes to see, I could have watched a spectacular sight that day. Amidst the weeping of those who had lost loved ones there were jubilant reunions in heaven of those who went home to their God. Bodies may have been ripped apart by shrapnel but those same people were heaven’s newest arrivals delighting in God’s presence. What a thrilling entrance to heaven as they worshipped! What a warm welcome they would have received in our Father’s arms!
Jesus knew deep grief. He is a loving God who suffered on our behalf. “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” Isaiah 53:3 He surely knows what suffering looks like and feels like. And He alone has the power to change it for good.
So what is my response today? Let me weep with those who weep. Let me look to God for strength and courage during these dark and troubled times. Let me pray for those who are suffering. Let me extend my hand to help my brothers and sisters of all ethnic groups and religions in any way I can. Let me not blame a whole community for what a small minority has done. Let me look to a loving Father to bring justice for His children. But let me also hold fast to the message of Easter. Let me choose the weapons of LOVE instead of the vicious weapons of hate.
God promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us and we can lean into His comfort. One day all the evils of the present age will be put right by a God who understands our pain more than we could ever realise. His love transcends every tragedy. He weeps with us as we weep. We who know Him grieve differently to those who have no hope.

So perhaps grief has another name and its name is HOPE!

One day when the curtain  swings wide open over life’s final act, we will at last comprehend the truth about everything. For now, we will look ahead with eyes of faith, trusting our faithful God. We will continue to live and love, to share God's comfort, truth and light in a dark dark world, so badly in need of a Saviour.

"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, 

so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our 

time of need." Hebrews 4:16

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! 

I have overcome the world.” John 16:33


"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 

But the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor 13:13