The Things That Don’t Go Away

This post is of a different sort, perhaps not to be repeated. It’s a personal reflection on events begun on a Ground Hog Day in 1982. For the most part it makes little difference what year it was.

It was the date on which my son Mark was born. It was near the end of the day, coming within minutes of missing my wife’s hopes of bringing a little boy into our lives on the anniversary of the day we met. But he made it with a couple of minutes to spare. Oh, what a feeling. And I’ll never forget the way his eyes locked onto mine for all too brief a time. As many of my readers know, however, such moments were to come to an abrupt end; Mark was gone four days later, having been born with only half of a heart.

Lots of people, maybe even a majority of people, have things in their lives that they would never have chosen to experience. Other folks sometimes wonder at those experiences, and even more at how they seem to be carried, how they reset the course of lives, how they redirect the personalities as well as the dreams of those walk through them. All too often the people themselves become victims, never making it through at all, compounding sense of tragedy. Even those who are guided through to a brighter day, however, never forget. There are moments of remembrance which can come out of nowhere, grip and rip at least momentarily, and remind one that life is not all it might have been, if only . . ..

I’m not a member of the group that believes it to be sinful to think back, at least for a while, to those kinds of things. And I don’t believe we are required to conclude that it was all for the best after all. I’m not a determinist, philosophically or theologically. I do believe, however, that the inevitable looks to the past can remind us that God picks up broken pieces, sometimes badly shattered pieces, and makes something whole out of them if we allow Him to. We almost surely will not see just what that new whole will look like except in hindsight, and even then only partially. I also believe that the “good” of that notoriously abused passage in Romans 8:28 is not our temporal experience, but our participation in the good of redemption, described in the verses before and after v.28.

Some may view it as pie in the sky to believe that God works through our tragic experiences and points us to a better day, one which we might fail to see in all its promise were it not for those very events. If Jesus Christ is truly the incarnate, crucified, risen, ascended Lord of all, however, there is nothing else to say in defense of the confidence. Or needed. The things that won’t go away do not have to go away. But along with the tears they bring in the remembrance, may they bring to you also the new day and unshakable hope.

(If anyone is interested, the link here is to a sermon I preached a couple of years ago on the subject; you can copy and paste it into your brouser and scroll to the date 08/03/08. )