happy is the heart that still feels pain

I realize that I have done a lot of responding on this blog lately.  Responding to various quotes or passages that I’ve been reading lately.  But this quote that I found this morning on the MMQB requires a response, especially by me, especially because I am finishing my chaplaincy this week.  It just seems to be a timely insert into my life in so many ways.
This quote was Peter King’s Quote of the week in response to the terrible tragedy hitting the Eagles this week.  The Eagle’s head coach Andy Reid’s son was found Sunday morning in his campus dorm room where the Eagles are holding training camp.  This quote is from the Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie on Sunday afternoon.  I think it displays a kind of wisdom that comes from moments like these in life:

I’ve watched Andy [Reid] try so hard with his family over the years.  He cares so much about his family that it’s a hard one.  You see a man that really cares, and sometimes what happens happens in life, and, you know, as he and I discussed, it’s like life throws you curveballs.  The thing to do, and I’ve always felt this and I think Andy feels the same way, is you gain from loss, you gain from tragedy.  I always think that there’s no way today I would own an NFL team if I hadn’t lost my dad when I was nine and it was shocking.  It made me stronger.  There’s choices to be made when tragedy happens.  You can become stronger and even more focused and learn from it and treat life as a challenge, or you can bow down.  And Andy is somebody … He said to me, ‘I’m going to hit that curveball and hit it out of the park’ on the field and off the field.  That’s the message he wanted me to have.

While, as a Christian, I think that this quote is missing a few key aspects, I also recognize the truth found in these words.  Tragedy is exactly that .. tragic.  It’s not something we plan or expect.  It comes out of nowhere and gut checks us.  But it also is a defining moment in our lives.  We have to helps us to figure out the kind of person we have, the kind of faith we have and what that faith is in.
A few times this summer I’ve been placed in rooms with families dealing with tragedy, crying out to God and asking why.  Struggling for anything to hold on to, for something to be right in what feels like a world of wrong.  And I’ve found myself speechless in all these times.  Partially because I don’t know what to say, partially because what I want to say sounds so harsh in that moment – “The only way to get through it is to get through it.”
But honestly because the part of me that doesn’t know what to say is that in that moment in my life, it didn’t matter what anyone said to me.  It was wrong.  No matter what anyone who didn’t deeply know my heart said to me – it was wrong.  The shock of tragedy does that to us, it makes us draw close to those who know us best and try and deal.  To struggle through the mess of what just happened with people who are struggling alongside of us.  Not that the cards and prayers from others didn’t matter – they did and they always will.  But in that tragic moment the strength that I needed came from my family – good or bad.
And I think that moment changed me.  The shift that Jeffrey Lurie is talking about happened in me.  I wouldn’t be where I am today, be the person I am today without the tragedy of losing my dad.  And I think that the only thing we can do when someone we love is going through this terrible pain of tragedy is to love them through it.  To help then along that road to the choice of being stronger or bowing down.  To help them stop blaming and start asking how God is going to redeem this.  Because He will.  We will never be the same because God promises we will be made new.  Tragedy doesn’t leave God dumbfounded, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t see us any more – it just gives Him a new way to grow us into the people He is creating us to be.

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