I find myself again writing the most difficult of posts. Three years ago it was about one of my high school students who chose to take her own life. This time tragedy struck in our church youth group as on Tuesday we lost a 16-year old girl to the most unlikely of things for someone so young – cardiac arrest.
Her name was Elizabeth and she was a sweet, sweet girl. She was so pleasant to be around. Smiles adorned her face at every turn. And such a committed follower of Jesus.
So young…so healthy…so just getting started on life.
And then she was gone in a heartbeat.
You can read the account as shared by her mother on her Facebook page. As a parent it will make you want to hold your kids tight and cherish the moment. I sure did when my wife and I returned from the hospital.
The toughest part about being with the family at the hospital and helping them work through the funeral arrangements this week was that there are no answers. There are no answers to the “Why did this happen?” question. There are no answers to the “What happened (physically)?” question. There are no answers really at all to how this happened to a perfectly healthy young girl.
And because there aren’t it intensifies the hurt.
Maybe those answers will come one day but right now they are missing. And it’s really just left our entire church and all who know the family in fog. An answer starts you on the path to some closure. The absence of one makes the event linger in your mind.
How do you live through a tragedy when there are no answers? I really don’t know. What I would have to offer as advice would be shallow and simply a guess. Only those who’ve dealt with that are capable of giving an accurate picture of what it’s like.
One thing I do know for sure though is that you need help. You need help from family. You need help from friends. You need help from professionals like pastors and counselors who can lend an ear and offer perspective.
And you need help from God who is the author of answers and the only place to turn when there are no answers forthcoming from human minds.
Sunday night, the day after Elizabeth’s funeral, we held youth group at my house. It was tough because one of our members was missing but she was still on everyone’s mind. So as 40 of us sat and talked around a small campfire, I asked the question, “What have you learned this week?”
“Time is short,” said one.
Another shared, “Nothing is guaranteed. We have to make the most of the time we’ve been given.”
And then this, “We need each other. It’s been nice to see everyone pull together to help people in pain.”
By the time we walked away from our campfire gathering, that seemed to be the overwhelming sense of what our youth group came to terms with. That when there are no answers or when you are just dealing with junk in your life, you have to reach out and hold on to those dearest to you, whomever that may be.
If you have a moment today, lift up a short prayer for Elizabeth’s family. Pray they will find some answers to their questions. And pray that God’s strength and compassion will follow them for many days to come.
Questions: Have you ever dealt with a tragedy where there were no answers? How did you get through it? What’s the best thing a friend or family member has done for you when you were hurting? Are you making the most of the life you’ve been given? If not, how could you turn that around?