Do you encounter instances or experiences that make you say, “That’s not supposed to happen” or “That’s not right”? Like, when a talented, young man of 21 at a prestigious college with a promising future suddenly loses his life and the dreams of what was expected to be a story yet to-be-told is cut short. Perhaps we see the tragedy in the lost potential of such a person – he could’ve been someone great, we know. But the real tragedy lies not in the loss of the potential but in the loss of the person – the light and brilliance of a personality that was lovable and joyously infectious; the kindness and humility of a genuine heart. We remember the smiles, the voice and the friendship. In the end, when tragedy hits, it’s not the potential so much that we’ll miss but the person. When the light of such a person is extinguished, our minds scream from the pit of our stomachs with an ache, “That’s not supposed to happen! What is wrong with this world?” Have you had events in life happen upon you that don’t feel right? The bottom of your soul screams at these losses, mishaps and misfortunes in life. What do you do when things happen that shouldn’t – when it’s not supposed to happen that way?
We can analyze the situations and come up with answers to explain such things. We can encourage ourselves with positive notions to give meaning to tragedies. We can philosophize about the tragedy to find out the lessons we’re supposed to learn, because it makes the loss seem redeemable. But there are those rare moments when all of these fail and all we can do is grieve. We cry. We remember. We write about it. We may even laugh. It’s all part of grieving. What else can we do when things that shouldn’t happen happen? Sometimes when we try to do more, it makes the situation worse. There are no explanations that will suffice. There are no lessons learned that could measure up to what was lost. But there is one thing we can find in our journey of grieving. Hope.
We can hold on to and hold out hope. God promises us with certainty that He will rejoice over his people and take delight in them. In that world, there will be no suffering but utter rejoicing, no death but life. “The sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years… Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:19-20, 24). There’s a promise of a different reality where in that world the things that aren’t supposed to happen will not happen. This is not a kind of hope that’s like a wishful thinking. It is a hope in a reality that is yet to happen. We can confront what-is-not-supposed-to-happen with what-has-yet-to-happen. It is the hope of I-will-see-you-again-one-day because we know this to be true in Christ. We can find after all our crying, reminiscing, writing, staring into the sky, and sharing with others that there is a confident hope from God we can cling to. So grieve without answers, explanations or reasons. But let the truth of God in Christ lead you through the path of grief to hope. Hope is sometimes all we have. But in the face of things that aren’t supposed to happen, hope is all we need.