I was hardly surprised yesterday when I checked my email and received a message in my inbox from Charles and Linda Jenkins. Charles and Linda live in West Virginia and have lived through losing a child. They lost their son, Jonathan -- a wonderful young man who I still think about often -- when he was just nineteen-years old.
Charles and Linda were conveying to me their sympathy, prayers and thoughts for Esteban and Christina Parra.
Charles and Linda and, as I've learned since Wednesday night, several other sets of parents in our family at Woodward Park have lost children. Some lost their child at birth. Others when their children were older.
That reminds me of God's infinite wisdom in creating the church as family. A family comes to our aid in times of suffering, grief and loss. Through the church, joys and sorrows are to be shared alike.
Today, we'll hold a Memorial Service at 11:00 AM to comfort Esteban and Christina in the loss of Mariana and Maricela. And in that memorial service, we'll be reminded that while we all struggle with the question of "Why?" the questions Scripture most often points our minds to are "Who?" and "What?"
Who? That's God. His sovereignty. His infinite wisdom.
And the what? That is what do we do despite the loss. In John 9, Jesus was questioned about the unfortunate man who'd been born blind. The disciples of Jesus wanted to know why? "Who sinned," they asked, "this man or his parents that he was born blind?"
Jesus's reply makes it clear that God on earth is not so consumed with answering our whys to satisfy our finite wisdom. Instead, Jesus points us in the direction of what: "Neither this man or his parents sinned," said Jesus. "But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."
That's what we are called to do in our moments of deepest despair. Even though our humanity struggles to make sense of it all, it is clear that Jesus deems every circumstance as an opportunity for the glory of God to be displayed to a world often blind to God's activity in the world.
My prayer this morning is that through the memory of Mariana and Maricela's brief lives, Esteban and Christina can be strengthened with hope; the hope that despite their loss, the glory of God can be displayed for all to see.