Tragedy Strikes, it tends to be pretty indiscriminate, and it tends to feel like it couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
I was having a conversation with good friends recently who felt those things and it made me think about how I deal with turmoil and upset.
Something that I have learnt and continue to learn is that denial of the emotions and feelings we feel during these times is unhelpful, as my friend said when we discussed it, denial perpetuates the stress of a situation without actually being able to give voice to it in anyway. I know the temptation of playing things down and not accepting the gravity of tragedy when it hits, and in the past I have thought that reacting with hopeful phrases was somewhat of a ‘Christian’ thing to do, react to a situation with the acknowledgment of an ultimate hope in Christ, or relativise my suffering or pain in light of something much more severe.
Whilst in the fullness of time it is not wrong to see our suffering in the light of much worse and be grateful, at the time of suffering our own experience is all we can feel, and often our own experience is painful, desperate, and angry. To deny these feelings is to deny the inbuilt process of emotion which is as God-given as the will with which we later decide to conquer these feelings as they subside. Our feelings and reactions are entirely valid, as it has been said, God is not scared of your desperation or anger towards him.
My Question is, our feelings should not be thought of as un-spiritual but inevitably our sense of hurt and despair can often come to a place of self-indulgence, at some point the bleak despair of tragedy refuses to acknowledge the hope which is the power of the resurrection, at what point is this line crossed? At which point does it become healthy to share the gospel with our despair, so to speak? Again I’m very aware of how coy all this can sound in the midst of trouble, how very sunday-school answer it seems, but surely the harsh love of the cross and resurrection should penetrate every action and thought, to live without letting the light of truth in seems to torture us in a way that is needless.