Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to the honest… doubt must precede every deeper assurance; for uncertainties are what we first see when we look into a region hitherto unknown, unexplored, unannexed. George MacDonald

A human life or a human world is one that holds together in terms of the future. It essentially involves meaning. Meaning is not a luxury for us. It is a kind of spiritual oxygen, we might say, that enables our souls to live. It is ‘going beyond’, a transcendence of whatever state we are in towards that which completes it. Dallas Willard

Just under one month ago I found myself suddenly thrown into that “region hitherto unknown, unexplored, unannexed”. Death entered my life in an unexpectedly sharp way – carving an abyss and cutting me off completely from “normal” life, or at least what my life had been up until that moment. When a person who plays a central and constant role in one’s life is suddenly, irrevocably no longer there – life fundamentally changes in ways that cannot be explained to or understood by those who are not living it.

Life and death play a central role in my everyday work. It should come as no surprise then, though it does, when Death suddenly reaches in and touches me personally. While each person’s grief is their own and each experience of death is different, my understanding of the sorrow and pain of those with whom I work has moved to a new level.

“Mine” was not the only death last month. February, it seems, was a month of loss and friends and colleagues around the world all felt Death’s touch, as I did. One week after my life changed, the lives of the family and friends of Pastor Roberto Marroquin were also altered. This friend of mine, a husband, a father, a pastor and one of the founders of the Latin American Network of Christian Lawyers was gunned down on the streets of Honduras, just outside his house. One week after that, in Pakistan, a man by the name of Shabaz Bhatti, was pulled from his car and shot to death by extremists who opposed his work fighting for the fights of minorities, including Christians, in that country. Shabaz was a friend of many of my colleagues, a frequent visitor to our offices and a follower, to the death, of Christ.

International headlines expressed shock at Shabaz’s death, Roberto’s murder was covered heavily in national news, my death didn’t make any headlines and indeed the limited local news reports got most of their facts wrong. The attention of the world, or lack of attention, to each of these deaths bears no relation to the impact and the suffering of those who loved each of these men. Each life is equally precious to God and He walks with us in our grief. Each life has meaning and even in death has purpose.

As Lent begins, many of us are asking questions, wrestling with doubt, wondering where the meaning in all of this is. I was reminded by the MacDonald quote above, that it is okay to not know what the right way to react to Death is – to be unsure of how one is to handle or cope with life as the heavens and earth seem to shift and change in an intangible but undeniable way.

In all of this Eternity has suddenly taken on a new and all important meaning to me. Our lives are so short, Time is finite when one is faced with this concept. I can accept and even look forward to Eternity where meaning and answers, unknowable here on earth, will be made clear.

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