Wednesday, April 16, 2008

grieving as those who have hope

My heart is grieved today over an article on the front page of The Age.

It's about six teenagers and a teacher from Elim Christian College who died yesterday during a canyoning accident on a flooded river in New Zealand. I was encouraged that this secular newspaper reported how the school responded with prayer, and spoke with grace not blame for those responsible: so unusual in our litigious world.

It reminded me of a similar accident last year, where students died during a Christian school camp in Australia (does anyone remember the details?). I also remembered the attack on Murree Christian School in Pakistan in 2002, where six adults were killed, but where God protected the children inside.

My first response was confusion. Why does God allow his people to suffer in one place, and protect them in another? Then anger: "Has God forgotten to be merciful?" (Psalm 77:7). Then sadness. I prayed for the parents, teachers and students, that they will be able to trust God even in their overwhelming sorrow.

So I was encouraged to read these words of faith by the principal of the college, who, after wise advice about grieving, writes:
    We do have a hope - God is our Comforter, God’s love surrounds us, and we do have an eternal perspective that death is not the end. This may be little comfort now as you miss your friends so much but in the big picture of life, we can be so thankful for our hope in Jesus- it truly makes all the difference.

    Psalm 18:2
    The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

    Psalm 71:20-21
    Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

    Psalm 73:26
    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Praise God with me for these brave people of faith, and pray for them tonight.

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