Tragedy has struck here in Canada. Late Friday night I caught wind of a horrific bus crash in Saskatchewan which took 15 lives of young junior hockey team players and associates and injured about 14 more on their way to a playoff game. This team is from Humbolt, a small town that I’ve visited a number of times during my seminary experience as my school in Saskatoon was only about an hour from there. Nice place. Quiet.
But the bad news for me didn’t end there. Mid-afternoon on Saturday I heard that one of my colleagues (who also studied in Saskatoon) died suddenly Friday night. I was in shock as while I knew she had health complications, I never expected my last interaction with her to be my last interaction with her.
We never think that this could happen to us or our loved ones. But it can. It will. It maybe already has.
And we can never be prepared enough to suffer the loss of a loved one. We can never be ready enough to really say goodbye and let go. It’s like we can never be strong enough to handle the pain and finality of death.
We fully expect it, but we are never prepared enough.
We want to run away. We want to escape. We want to lock ourselves away… perhaps in an upper room because we’re afraid that anyone might find us and maybe remind us again of the pain that we so desperately are trying to forget.
As we heard today and will again next week, the disciples locked themselves away. They wanted to hide. They wanted to disappear perhaps in hopes that if no one could find them then maybe their pain and suffering in the loss of a dear friend wouldn’t be able to find them either.
That didn’t work out so well for them.
Nor will it work out so well for us. Because sooner or later, that pain will resurface and we might find ourselves huddled in a ball… bawling.
But in that grief… in that seemingly inconsolable pain… in behind the doors we lock so tightly in fears of letting anyone in… Jesus is present.
And he brought peace with him. The peace of God. The peace of the Spirit. The peace of healing, redemption, and restoration. The peace that surpasses all understanding… it surpasses it because it pierces, it envelopes, it surrounds us so completely that we don’t even notice how we didn’t unlock the door for this peace to enter.
It comes. It heals. It forgives us our doubts and unbelief and fills us with God’s love, grace, and mercy.
This peace might not come today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. But it is coming. Thank God it will.
Because I really need it.
Peace be with all the families and people who are suffering loss in the midst of death. May they be surrounded by God’s love and support of community.