Our community was shocked last week when we heard the evil news that an 18 year-old young woman named Zoe Hastings was found murdered. What do we do in the face of this kind of loss? I don’t know the Hastings family personally and I don’t presume to have any idea of the hell through which they are walking. But, I have been thinking about loss, and I humbly offer the following thoughts to anyone struggling with the question, “What do we do in the face of evil, death, and suffering?”
When we experience loss, we grieve. It is appropriate and necessary to be filled with anger or dread or numbness. It’s okay to scream and cry. When someone you love is taken away, anything less than grief would be an obscenity. And, because grief comes in all different forms and in different ways and at different times for different people, whatever you are feeling is fine. Don’t analyze it. Just grieve.
When we experience evil and loss we want to scream out “Why?” When evil comes upon us, it is always inexplicable, but for some reason we still feel the need to offer an explanation. Don’t. One of the wisest things I ever heard my father say: “Resist the urge the explain.” We don’t know why Zoe Hastings was murdered. No one knows. “Why?” is a useless question, and do not attempt to offer an explanation or a platitude–however well intentioned–to someone grieving. Resist the urge to explain: it won’t do any good.
I may not have an answer to the “Why?” questions, but there is something else that I do have. Please know that I mean no offense in sharing the following, as I am aware that not everyone reading this shares my faith. But, as a Christian, in the face of evil, pain, and loss, I have hope.
Now, Christian hope is not wishful thinking. It is not a vague sense that we should think positively or put a sunny gloss on our grief. Wishful thinking has nothing to offer to those who grieve.
No, Christian hope is certainty. Christian hope is based on the fact that Jesus is risen; Christian hope knows that the Resurrection proves that evil will not win and that everything sad will become untrue. Christian hope is the certainty that God will ultimately right every wrong.
That is the hope I have.
So, in the face of evil, death and suffering, we grieve. And we wait until the day when God will make everything new.
And we hope.
Lord, help our unbelief.
P.S. One of My Favorite Bible Verses
Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)