A Hard Truth
One thing that I found to be true is that a lot of the harder doctrines of the Bible are some of the most helpful things in protecting and healing your heart in tragedy. After my son died, a number of other things happened in my life. A friend was diagnosed with cancer and ended up dying. I had some other difficulties come about. I had a one year-old daughter that seemed to be teething for two straight years. She was up all night.
I just became really angry. I almost wanted to say Hey God, we’ve gone through enough. We’ve lost a child. Isn’t there some equity here? Shouldn’t there be some equal proportion of pain distributed? Now’s really not the time.
I’m a sinner. I’m not entitled to comfort. I’m not entitled to anything. Everything I have in my life is by God’s grace.
I knew that becoming bitter was probably the biggest danger in not healing, in having a hardened heart, and in creating distance in my relationship with God. The thing that really protected me was a biblical view of sin. I can remember talking to a friend and just expressing all of my anger to him. He is the kind of friend who could say this. He said, “I know you’re angry. Let’s go back and remember that God does not owe you anything. You’re a sinner. The only thing you’ve earned from God is judgement.”
Then, he allowed me to work that out. I started to remember he was right and that the only thing I had earned through my sin is death. I’ve done nothing to be skipped over when it comes to the pain that everyone experiences. That enabled me to be angry at the fall and to be angry as Jesus was angry after Lazarus died. He was angry at death. He mourned death while not being mad at God.
God Is Always Right
I’m a sinner. I’m not entitled to comfort. I’m not entitled to anything. Everything I have in my life is by God’s grace. That’s a hard thing to hear. That’s a hard thing to teach to people about the depth of their sin and what they really have earned in their sin. But, it is a great protection for a person in tragedy because it prevents them from getting bitter, feeling entitled, and feeling like they’ve been wronged by God.
God does not do wrong. God is all good, and whatever he ordains is right. So, I think teaching the hard doctrines—the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man—is a really helpful thing for a person in tragedy, as hard as it is to communicate and as unpleasant as it may be to accept.
Four years ago, Cameron Cole came face-to-face with his worst nightmare. The one thing that he hoped and prayed would never happen, did happen.
As a parent whose child died four and a half years ago, I want to offer you two hopeful words about that wound in your heart that never will fully heal on this side of eternity.
God did and does have something to do with your tragedy. I know this sounds like a cruel statement, but stay with me. There is hope in the end.