December 17, 2013


I wonder what happens to those people who live their entire lives without experiencing a significant tragedy.

When they hug someone, do they hug like we do?

When they encounter someone who has been completely wrecked by something, do they have that point of reference that some of us do, that permanent and unfixable moment when life changed? The one we dredge up and experience again, just for that split second when we know that someone else is hurting in the same way we hurt?

That moment of tragedy, it's not one we like to relive, but we can't help it. And it doesn't just come up when someone else is in pain, it might appear abruptly while we're driving down the street, or sneak up and tap us on the shoulder during some beautiful moment in the future, watching children play, standing alone in nature, or drifting to sleep on a lazy afternoon.

We try to redeem tragedies, to find some use for them and extract a profit from them, as though through logic we can get God off the hook and say "He's still good! See? Our hugs are just that much better! Now we know what true empathy is!"

In his infinite Grace, God might indeed take something awful and purpose it for good. But I'm not convinced it should always be our expectation. It's not as though we're owed a dividend.

I say we can let the tragic be tragic, unredeemable, terrible, and still move forward in life without needing an explanation or excuse. A moment may be completely unprofitable aside from driving us into the arms of the Father and serving as a reminder that there is more to reality than what we see and experience here. If we are the type of people God wants us to be, then we are the sort that will immediately fix our eyes on Him when we experience something tragic, without need of explanation or reason.