In times of tragedy, the Easter message offers hope
AS I I write this I feel quite raw, because I just discovered this morning that a young man I have known for several years- a friend- recently committed suicide.
Then, less than a hour later, I learned that another young person from a local high school was tragically killed in a car accident last night.
Sometimes tragedy just seems to hit you from out of nowhere.
We all go through times in our lives when we try and make sense of the bigger picture.
The initial questions following a tragedy of "what happened?", "when?" and "where?" are reasonably quickly answered but questions like "why?" and "how could this be?" take far longer to make sense of.
Sometimes we never find adequate answers.
We respond to such times in different ways. Stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.
Depending on the degree of loss, grief can take many weeks, months and even years to navigate. Like the tide on the shore, it rolls in and out as time goes on, with different levels of intensity and our lives are forever changed.
Some say religion is a crutch for the weak. They may be right. Certainly it is following a tragedy that many look for spiritual meaning; and it is at these times of "weakness" that many come to find what really matters.
Not career, nor possessions, not even - dare I say - our well reasoned arguments.
No, when the proverbial hits the fan nothing that is temporary really matters at all.
That's why I believe the message of Easter is as important as ever.
More than a crutch for the weak, the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus brings hope and surety in the midst of grief.
Speaking to a woman who had just lost her brother Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life".
He was pointing to his own impending sacrificial death and resurrection, but also to those who would place their faith in him.
For the message of Easter is this: because Jesus died we can be restored to relationship with a God who loves us; and because Jesus rose again, we can know that death does not have the final word.
We, too, can look forward to an eternity without death, grief or pain.
Now that is good news.
Stuart White is a former Caloundra High chaplain who has worked with students and parents in dealing with many tragedies, including suicides, family breakdowns and fatal car crashes. He was recently appointed a pastor at Flametree Baptist Church in Nambour. You can contact Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.