Monday, September 7, 2009

A Broken World and a Greater Grace

Late this morning as Kathryn and I were with her family and one of Kathryn’s best friends who is visiting from out of town, we found out that some close friends of ours lost two members of their immediate family yesterday. The circumstances are particularly dark, tragic, broken, and painful. We hurt so much for them. There was no way for them to foresee the pit into which they have been hurled, and there is no fast or easy way out. They have a long, hard, and painful road ahead of them. What a broken world we live in!

The more that I thought about and prayed for my friend, the more I wanted to see him, to talk with him, to pray with him, to be with him. He graciously allowed his grieving friend (me) to come over to his house though it was already full of friends and family and sorrow. I got to spend an hour with him. We have spent a good deal of time together, but I suspect that years from now I will remember our hour today more than any of the others.

I had not seen him since Samuel died. Our embrace was a meaningful one – few words, many tears, full of meaning. It was so hard to see a good friend and his family in such pain. I’m sure that this is how many of you have felt about Kathryn and I over these last five weeks (thank you again for your compassion!). It was a unique experience for me to be talking to a trusted friend who is walking with me in my dark valley while I am also walking with him in his. There was a comfort to it that I’m not sure that I can explain. Friendship is a remarkable thing.

We talked and prayed and reflected and wondered about many things. One thought that stands out was our shared observation about how light shines most brightly in the dark. In what are some of the darkest times in both our lives, we find ourselves more aware than ever of God’s presence and His grace. We know that we need Him for our next step and breath and conversation and decision. But we also know and are experiencing moment-by-moment that His grace will be sufficient for all of those things.

As we spoke further into one another’s grief I was reminded how scandalous the grace of God can seem. When it touches the dark, ugly, painful, and unspeakable circumstances of our lives, something happens. From the dark comes light, from the ugly comes beauty, from the pain comes healing, and from the unspeakable comes an utterance. It is because of this offensive, beautiful, powerful, and transformative grace that my friend says, “I find that in some way I’m grateful for Samuel’s death.” And it is by the grace of God that, instead of punching him in the kisser, I nod my head. How else could you talk about such a thing as the death of a one-month old child in such a way? I know what he means. I know that he prayed desperately with us for our son’s healing. I know that if there was anything that he could do to get Samuel back, he would. I also understand that my friend is seeing the Lord use Samuel’s life and death in his life, even to prepare him for the valley that he didn’t know he would be in. My friend is participating with us in God’s gracious redemption of the life and death of Samuel Erik. For that I am grateful.

I returned the favor. I had just heard about the circumstances of his family members’ deaths, about the agony that he and his family are in, and about the unimaginable decisions and conversations that they face. In the midst of all of that, as we were about to part I said to my friend, “Interestingly, our time together has been healing for me.” He didn’t punch me. We both knew that it was the grace of God. The Lord allowed me to comfort a friend from my story and my pain, which is further redemption of Samuel’s life and death. The fact that the encounter was healing for me was a tiny window into how God is already transforming the tragic deaths of my friend’s family members for His purposes. Thank you, God, for your grace and for graciously allowing us to catch glimpses of it at work in our lives.

As you continue to pray for us, please pray for this family as well. We all need God’s grace: peace, rest, comfort, strength, help, hope, faith, and more. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Be warned that this is not all that savy. As I am sure many may have, I got in my truck after Samuel's memorial service, played some music, cried some more, mind racing at this point why some of the seemingly worst people on the planet that should have children have too many, and we couldn't save this one for two of the sweetest people on the planet. (run on sentence for my past teachers) I had already taken the am off to be with Samuel and his friends, and when I got home I called my buddy at work and said that "I never want to go through that again, nor should anyone else. If it's ok I'm going to go get my kids from school, and spend the afternoon with them." He said I'm sure it was tough and I will see you tomorrow. (B/K this is my buddy Frank that I always call for prayers) We went to get Ice cream, and Matt got a soda. I guess that my long way around here is that no matter who, or where we might be, some of us (Me) take things for granted until we see or see our friends in tragedy. B/K my heart is still heavy for you, and I'm sure that yours is a little heavier for some friends now. If anyone else reads this, know that I am certainly not the best parent most (all) of the time, but who ever you are, let your children know that you love them EVERYDAY. Even when things seem to be the worst, hugs, kisses, and I love you's. As my Uncle Homer says, "life has a certain odor about it sometimes, but we just have to keep moving". Bry we need to get that biscuit whenever you are ready brother. No scrips, just love. R