Gratitude Amidst Great Heartache

Several weeks ago, an actor I had met once while in California shot and murdered his wife, a woman whose family my wife and I know.

I learned of the events via text from a trusted friend who knew that I had been a fan of the actor. Details began to leak from various news sources, some reputable, others not. I learned that the victim was currently an employee at my alma mader (the aforementioned Biola), and that the school had made a public statement. The campus grieved and I, with them, though 3,000 miles away.

That day became a day of prayer. Despite my sincere efforts to focus and work, the tasks before me could barely keep my attention for more than a few moments. I had imaginings of the actor (at least how I remembered him) in the moments after the event. In my mind’s eye, I could see the victim’s mother sobbing at the news. I saw people I know to be on campus wiping tears from their eyes. I grieved for all of them. And I prayed.

I prayed the common prayers in moments such as these, “Father, why? Why did you allow this to happen?” “Why them, God? Why them?” I asked the Lord to lead the hearts of those at the university, that they would rally around the family at this horrific time. I looked for solace. I listened to sermons by John Piper, who extolled the wisdom, power, and glory of Christ. I e-mailed with a fellow fan of the actor as we both processed the news. Much to my own foolishness, I read comments sections beneath articles (if ever you needed proof of human depravity, they will provide it).

After half a day of this, during the devastation, in the asking God “why”, a small whisper calmed my soul. While the pain lingered, the thought gave me pause. It stopped short in my latest round of questions.

Rather than ask God why this could happen or how it came to this, I was led to thank God that he was there to accept my questions at all. This neither diminished nor healed the pain. The heartache was ever as real as it had been all morning—even more so, given that longer musings lead to greater concern.

But in the midst of it, I cannot help but cling to the comfort. In the midst of tragedy, in the pangs of reflection, at least I have the solace of being before God, at least I can come before his mighty throne. And while I cannot make sense of this, he already has. Because of who he is and how he has oversight, I can seize a modicum of peace, if even for a few moments at a time. Despite this terrible event, God is still God, and God is still good—even and especially when the world is not.

I don’t know what will come of this tragedy. I do not know what led to it, either. But I know that God is faithful; God heals. I know that the victim’s mother has a relationship with this Holy God forged through the fire of trial and tribulation. Even as I type and revise, I mourn for her; I lament the tragic event. I beg God to give comfort to her family.

And while the wound will remain raw for them long after the courts are settled and the judgments pass, I have ultimate hope that they all will be reunited in the bosom of their eternal Father, where pain will be a bygone, fading memory of a prior age.

How I long for that day, not just for them but for all of us.

Thank you all for reading,