The Darkside of Reality Ahead
JUNE 25, 2016
If I can locate your suffering to something you did, then I can convince myself that it would never happen to me.
Last week, a family lost their two-year-old son while visiting Disney World (full story here). Right where the water meets the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon, an alligator snatched the little boy, out from under his parent’s eye, and dragged him under water. These parents were diligent and watchful. The Washington Post reported that the father immediately ran in after his son,
“Lane’s parents watched Tuesday night as the alligator grabbed their son in the shallows of the lake and dragged him deeper into the water, officials said. The father, Matt Graves, rushed into the water and grabbed desperately for the boy; Graves cut his hand while attempting to wrestle Lane away from the gator but was unable to save his son.”
There was no delay in reaction by the parents; the father’s reaction time was so quick that he was able to make it to his son and try to save him. These parents were far from neglectful and distracted.
I know there is not a mother or father out there that isn’t also feeling and imagining the pain of such a loss. As I type this, I hold my own two-year-old in my lap. I can barely see through the tears that have welled up in my eyes as I imagine and feel the pain and horror and suffering the parents are experiencing now. This type of tragedy sends electrified bolts of fear and grief through my heart, and I pull my daughter closer.
Such a tragedy is too much for us to handle. If the comments on Facebook and Twitter are any indication, rather than grieving with these poor parents, the instinct is to levy blame and hurl accusations. We have to convince ourselves that we could have avoided such a thing, that we would never have allowed our child to be there at that spot where that two-year-old boy was wading. We protect ourselves from this dark reality by pointing our judgmental fingers in the direction of the victims and place all the blame squarely at their feet. If I can locate your suffering to something you did, then I can convince myself that it would never happen to me.
We are so scared of something like this happening to us that we will believe the boldest of lies: I am too smart/capable/responsible to ever let something like that happen to me. We need to believe the lie because, to be honest, we, too, have reclined and relaxed at the end of a busy day and have let our toddlers wade ankle deep into water under our astute eye. We want to believe the lie because at the end of the day there’s nothing that separates us from those parents apart from that lie.
Of course, none of us can be so certain, and that’s the shaky ground we stand on. Events like this remind us, painfully and shockingly, that we are not in control. This life can produce unimaginable suffering, suffering so intense that the only temporal relief is prescribed medication. As hard as it can be to believe at times such as this, events like this also remind us that there is One who is in control, one who bore the full, tragic weight of the brokenness of the whole world, and delivered a final verdict to pain and suffering, blame and accusation. Our hope, even/especially in times of excruciating pain and grief, is Jesus Christ.
When truly horrible events happen, we do not have to run from or build intellectual straw-men out of blame and accusation to protect ourselves. Rather, because of what Christ has done for us, we can weep with these parents, this mother and father, and we can deeply empathize with their sorrow and grief and pain; for this is the epitome of Christian love resembling Christ’s love for us.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” Matthew 5:4
“‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’” John 16:33
Adapted from this post