Hope in Tragedy

This article was published in Because on 21 March by James Henderson:

The search continues for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet that disappeared on the 8th March. Our hearts go out to the passengers and crew, and we join with their families and friends in hoping that somehow they are still alive. At the time of writing there is a report that perhaps the plane crashed into the sea in a remote part of the South Indian Ocean.

Where is God when the news is bleak and tragedy strikes? Philosophers and religious leaders have debated and speculated about this question for centuries. Is he afar off in his heaven, unconcerned about us? Has he left the world to its own devices? Are the terrible things that happen part of his judgment on humanity? Maybe there is no God anyway, and the question itself is redundant.

The great biblical writer, King David, addressed the subject, and in a way silenced the debate with the simplicity of his answer. In what must be one of the most beautiful and poignant spiritual songs ever written, David explains that the moment of death, however horrific it may be and no matter in what desolate place it occurs, is not a loss of hope. Rather, he continues, death is a point of contact with the life-giving Spirit of God. Listen to what he says: “Where shall I go from your Spirit?…if I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV UK).

David’s words comfort all of us. They give hope, not only to those caught up in tragic events, but to everyone when faced with our own death or when a loved one dies. The Spirit of God is everywhere: therefore we are not alone. When we die, the next moment of awareness is with God, who comforts us and gives us grace through his resurrected son, Jesus Christ.

Let’s not forget those involved with flight MH 370, and pray that God will keep them safe.

And – if the worst has happened – let’s remember that, as David wrote, even in death God’s right hand holds us fast.

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