When the Days Are Dark

There are some days of incredible darkness.  Many of us are both saddened and shocked by the losses in our local communities over the past week.  For those unaware, the losses are 3 deaths in less than 5 days.  While full details have not been released all are tragic in their own right.  Involving people who were not directly/ active members of our NewChurch LIVE congregation, they involved pe0ple with very close ties to many in our congregation and specifically to our sister church, the Bryn Athyn Church.

For those impacted, there is little in the way of words to offer at a time like this.  And it is important as Pastor to share some thoughts that will fall short but that are offered, however clumsily, with deep love for those struggling today.

Where is God in all of this?

Events like these are never God’s will. They run contrary to it.  And hell does gets its day on occasion where for reasons we will never fully understand anger, addiction, fear, overwhelm and run wild.  Our greatest and most terrifying gift is freedom and at times we use that freedom in ways that are incredibly damaging.

So God is not in the event per se.  Where God is is in the love, compassion, and support flowing out to all those impacted.  I firmly, to the deepest part of my soul, believe God’s heart is always the first to break.  His tears the first to flow. And our job is to join Him in “healing the brokenhearted and binding up their wounds” (Psalm 147) in our own limited yet beloved way.

So what can we do?

We can take care of each other and the impacted families.  That simple.  We can continually rededicate ourselves to the incredibly hard work of love and healing.

And as we take care of one another, consider ways of serving.  These heartbreaks are one of the universal conditions of our experience of this life.   As such, in face of calamity, it is a time to (a) draw in and (b) reach out.  That is God’s invitation and our responsibility.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

Closing Thoughts

In facing tragedies as a Pastor, I so very deeply wish there was a “list”, a prescriptive “list” of how to move through days of incredible darkness.  There is not.  Just some thoughts that might comfort in some way.  And a constant reminder, “When you find yourself in hell, keep going.”

For many, this IS our Easter.  Our time of unimaginable loss especially for the families of the deceased.  And with grace, and patience, God’s healing will find its way to us as we find our way home.

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4 Responses to “When the Days Are Dark”

  1. Karl E Parker says:

    Thank you, Chuck, for sharing this wisdom. Your message reminded me of a passage from Philip Yancey’s book, “Where is God When It Hurts?” It begins with a quote from John Donne (I believe penned during the plague, when death surrounded him and all he knew):

    “‘The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions, all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me; all mankind is of one author, and is one volume…

    No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of a continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thy own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore can never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.’

    Bear one another’s burdens, the Bible says. It is a lesson about pain that we all can agree on. Some of us will not see pain as a gift; some will always accuse God of being unfair for allowing it. But, the fact is, pain and suffering are here among us, and we need to respond in some way.. The response Jesus gave was to bear the burdens of those he touched. To live in the world as His body, His emotional incarnation, we must follow His example.

    The image of the body accurately portrays how God is working in the world. Sometimes He does enter in, occasionally by performing miracles, and often by giving super-natural strength to those in need. But mainly he relies on us, his agents, to do his work in the world. We are asked to live out the life of Christ in the world, not just to refer back to it or describe it. We announce His message, work for justice, pray for mercy… and suffer with the sufferers.”

    Blessings to you, my friend, and to all those you serve!

  2. Chuck.Blair says:

    Thanks Karl. A beautiful message.

  3. Gwenda Cowley says:

    Thank you Chuck.

    Fred Rogers said, Look for the helpers…that is where God is. There are always helpers.

    Always.

  4. Duncan Lee says:

    Thank you Chuck, For those of us that are displaced Bryn Athynites. It helps to read your words.

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