I had coffee one recent morning with a young father who buried his four-year-old daughter two months ago.
There are no words to comfort, no clichés that will suffice, no condolences that can change the harsh reality this family now faces.
There is something in every human heart that rises up when a child dies, knowing this is not the way things are supposed to be.
I believe that in that moment, God Himself is agreeing with us.
Something is broken in the world. Something is broken in our lives.
So where does one turn to find strength, comfort, meaning when it seems that all we hear is bad news?
Where do we find the courage to get out of bed and for another day?
These types of questions is where we find our deepest soul’s longings revealed.
It’s easy to believe that we are the masters of our own destiny. But how quickly life changes.
The crash of steel on steel as vehicles collide, the doctor’s report of bad news, or the personal conflict that somehow seems to arise in every relationship, rudely remind us of how quickly life can change.
As we look forward, there is one certainty we can count on – this life will bring trouble.
So the question we must is: Where will I turn for strength when the difficult days come?
On one occasion, Jesus was talking to His band of brothers: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
Two realities: hard times will come. But strength to face them is found in Christ.
Over 25 years of pastoral ministry has shown me that men and women of faith are somehow able to face the most difficult tribulations”that life gives and still lift their eyes with courage for another new day. Courage comes by looking to the One who Himself suffered so much at the hands of angry men, yet laid His life down in love for each of us.
Comfort comes from knowing that the One we turn to for comfort has Himself endured so much pain and rejection. He understands. He has tasted the bitterness of rejection, of loss, of life’s worst. He stood at the grave side weeping – He knew the “sting of death.”
Yet in His death and resurrection, He offers us the hope that life can and will be restored to “what it should be.”
That young father? He openly confessed the challenge that he and his wife face as they look to God for strength and for comfort as they wake up each day to a new reality that they would have never chosen.
There is no easy answer, but there is a solid hope and trust in the One who has the answers and who cares more deeply than we may ever know.
Not everyone can or will accept this simple response – maybe that’s why Jesus’ said we have to have faith like a child.
Mark Burch is senior pastor of Maple Ridge Baptist Church.