Where were you when I needed you? You promised that you would never leave me.
These are the questions that are often asked when we suffer a tragedy. The tragedy can come in many forms that affect us in different ways – a divorce, an automobile accident, an abusive relationship or the sudden loss of a member of our family.
The pain that we experience is the root of these questions and we are often are left sitting in a world that has been permanently disfigured and unrecognizable.
We may be asking where God was when our dear 21-year-old, Abbrielle Brynda, died.
We sit and look at the empty chair she once occupied and we are torn with the memories of the beautiful smile and kind words that she spoke.
During my 3 1/2 years at Gannon, we have lost five members of the family through tragic incidents that have served as a reminder of the fragility of life.
We say to each other, “See you after practice,” “See you in class tomorrow,” “See you in a few minutes.” Those minutes are not guaranteed and the reminder of the temporary state of our human existence is an empty chair or the texts and phone calls that will never come again.
Perhaps we have a saved message or text and remember the plans that we had to meet up for a meal or a movie. There may be the notion that if we don’t erase the text, we are still connected.
The last words that we spoke are now louder than ever and we wish for one more hug, one more smile or one more chance to say, “I love you.”
Where was God? Why did he let this happen? The answer to the question is that God is present.
I heard a conversation between two people that was filled with obvious grief and the speculation of how Abbie was alone in her last moments on Earth.
The picture is a dark and sad one and it is a lie. Abbie was held in the arms of Christ because Christ is ever present. Christ promised that he would never leave us and he is true to his word. There is not, and has never been, a moment in time when Christ did not exist.
Imagine for a moment that you are a prisoner, as were many of the apostles and members of the early church, and your best friends will be released tomorrow and you are never going to see them again. You know that if they leave they will not be fed to the lions, made to fight to the death or be tortured ever again.
Will you be happy they are leaving? Probably not, but you will still know that they will be better off. There is a sense that even though you will miss them every moment as you continue to be a prisoner, your friends will be free and no longer in danger.
This life that we live on Earth, no matter how much we enjoy the company of each other, is a kind of prison in the sense that this mortal existence was not meant to be our permanent home, and we are promised a release from the prison by the one who conquered death.
There will be a song that you hear, a fragrance that you smell or a favorite dessert on the menu that will remind you of the loss. In those moments, I beg you to embrace the times you shared with them and simply know that they will be forever in your heart.
As time passes, the pain doesn’t go away, but it transforms into something manageable. You will always remember the last time and the first time you met and left Abbie. There is Good news and that news is Christ conquered death.
Eternal rest grant unto, Abbie, O’ Lord, and may your perpetual light shine upon her. May the souls of the faithful departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace.
At the end, death will lose all its power, as written in Corinthians 1 15:54. “But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law.”