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.
http://www.boyertownec.org/sermon_archive.html )

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9 thoughts on “The Things That Don’t Go Away

  1. I knew the story, although not the date. May comfort continue to wash over your memories, keeping your vision of that hope shining brightly.

  2. I was a very small girl when this occured, but I remember, and I remember my questions, the ones that children ask, that are so very hard to answer. I asked them again when I was older and listiening to songs about “light”. I watched my elders, of two generations, and how they carried on, assuming I would understand when I was older. When I was in my twenties, I stood with my mother and watched grief over Barbara sneak up on her unawares, behind the Hosensack church.
    Now I know that there are some questions we dont get full answers to. I also know that the adults didnt have the secret answers, they were simply clinging to the same faith they had passed on to me.
    I believe one of the legacies of this family is in the way “we” have seen the loss of 3 precious children, beginning with your own sister, and the grief is evident, yet the faith has remained. I am sure it was shaken, questioned, and put through the ringer, but the heritage of faith has endured. Thank you so much for allowing us to see it, thank you so much for holding on, I wish it had not been necessary.

  3. Beth–and Ken,

    What a beautiful way to say it: “the grief is evident, yet the faith has remained.”

    May that faith continue to stand firm, despite the grief.

    • Oh how beautiful, yet painful to read and remember. Ken and Beth both expressed your faith with words that have brought tears. But God was with us in the pain and I believe we will know completely how much He really did hold us up through those sad and difficult days. He is always faithful.

  4. I heard this (sermon) for the first time in your Theology of Suffering class.

    That punch in the gut grief lessens, but the horror of it will spike in us from time-to-time. I lost my dad at 20, but I still miss him dearly.

    It is for my greatest hurts that I am most moved to compassion for the hurts in others…losing someone too soon. And yet, though I have despaired, God has strengthened my hope in all that is his, and all that weights for us beyond the veil, so soon.

    May you feel your Savior’s loving embrace, and know his mercy as your journey continues.

  5. Amen to all the thoughts shared here.

    I still hold dear the baby I lost 8 years ago, and I still ask why. I don’t questions God’s decision, or His goodness and love, but I still ask why. And while I still hate having to go through that pain, that grief, I know it has made me so much more compassionate to those who have suffered that kind of loss.

    And I still day to day grieve the loss of my health–while I am better now than I was 3 years ago, I will never be completely healthy again, unless of course, God in His wisdom decides to make it so. But again, I cannot question God’s goodness or His mercy and love, as He has brought to me so many others whom I have been able to help, if only by a word of encouragement, people I never would have met had I not been in this place in my life.

    Our faith in Jesus brings us great joy, and it is that great joy–in knowing Him and in knowing what lies in the next life for us–that gets us through the great pains we will inevitably go through in our lives.

    Blessings to each one of you!

  6. As someone clinging to faith after the death of a beautiful grandaughter, thank you for sharing. My son and his wife had their daughter for far too brief a time, and the love that shone out of their eyes and their grief when she passed, I hurt for them, and I hurt for me too. I continue to cling to the concept that God is love and that he knows more than we do, but sometimes it still hurts so bad

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