The Challenge of Death

My sister in law lost her child this week.

In the face of the loss of a child not yet born, we are forced to grapple with the ancient question,

How could a good God permit death and suffering?

We experience brokenness and death all around us and it seems to be contradictory to passages like Psalm 139 that talk about God’s intimate knowledge of us and careful oversight of our being. I have often wrestled with this conundrum in regards to my own suffering which pales in comparison to events like this. The only real comfort in such painful times is having a friend to bear the load with you and even weep with you.

I was reading another blog recently by a friend of mine, see it here. He wrestles with the same question, how do we know that God truly cares about us…He came down to earth and endured suffering with us and John 11:35 records that faced with the death of a friend and the grief and despair of his friend’s sister,”Jesus wept”. The powerful God-man who healed people from illness, calmed the sea, and raised people from the dead, grieved openly with his friends.

BUT he didn’t stop there, Jesus does not grieve passively, rather he acts. John’s account tells us that he called Lazarus from the tomb, but more impressive to me is the whole episode introduces Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during passion week. It was on his way to die for his friends that the event with Lazarus unfolds. Christ’s work on our behalf and his willingness to grieve with us in the process makes passages like Psalm 139 truly comforting.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:15–16 (ESV)

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