Life Hurts, But Hope Helps (1)
All of us have experienced life's hurts, with some of us experiencing more pain than others. I am not referring to inconveniences and minor issues like hurt feelings and bruised egos; I am thinking of life changing tragedies and occurrences that weigh heavy on our minds and tear at our emotions. In some extreme instances, events occur that lead us to despair, maybe even to the point where we no longer value our lives and we wish for our own demise, just to make the pain and suffering go away. How do we continue, day-by-day, with so much sorrow and heartache?
I remember well a tragedy that occurred in my family on December 15, 2001. I was 21 years old. My family had experienced the loss of elderly family members in my youth, but this was an incident that was shocking and unexpected. My parents and I, along with my younger sister, were traveling along the highway, following behind my grandfather, grandmother, and a friend of theirs. We were on the way home from being out of state and I was driving behind my grandfather who was driving their van. He pulled over to the side of the road, and I pulled in beside him. I don’t remember the conversation, but I think it had something to do with making sure we were on the right path toward home. He pulled back out on the highway, and we drove a short distance. My grandfather pulled up to what may have seemed like a four-way intersection, but in fact there were only stop signs for us and what would have been oncoming traffic. Vehicles coming from the left or right did not have a stop sign. My grandfather eased out into the road, and I saw a pickup truck barreling toward the van. I do not remember the specifics of the truck, only that it was not a small vehicle. I could see what was about to happen and I still remember saying: “Oh, Papa.” A moment later, a horrific collision occurred as the truck broadsided my grandfather’s van. I remember seeing the caps flying off the wheels of the van, and the van veering to the right, off of the road and into an open field. I rushed to the side of the road and parked the vehicle, and we ran to the van. I ran straight to the open window of the driver’s side of the vehicle and my grandfather was unconscious. I grabbed his arm, and I could feel that he had an extremely rapid pulse. My mother climbed into the vehicle and was desperately attempting to give rescue breaths to my grandfather as he sat upright in the driver’s seat. I remember seeing the shock and bewilderment on my father’s face, as well as the voice of my grandmother who was injured, but conscious. My grandfather’s pulse stopped. His life had passed. I walked away from the vehicle and out into the open field. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking, but if I recall correctly, my thoughts were directed toward God, life, death, and the days ahead. Other people stopped to assist, including a lady that prayed with us. One minute life was like normal – and the next it was turned upside down. My grandfather was no longer with us. My grandmother spent several nights in a nearby hospital. My mother’s two brothers arrived, along with some friends, and my grandmother was released. Their friend had survived the accident too.
Christmas was a lot different that year. Traditionally, we had met at the house of my grandparents, and there was lots of good food and laughing and storytelling. This gathering was filled with tears and sadness. It was painful to lose my grandfather this way, but I am certain that my grandmother, my mother, and my uncles felt the pain more intensely than the rest of us. In God’s design, a married man and woman have the closest and most intimate relationship to be found on earth. Losing a husband or a wife is heart wrenching. The relationship between parents and children is not far behind. How do people cope when faced with a tragedy that separates husband and wife, or parent and child? The ultimate hope is that one day, all those who followed (or will follow) Jesus as Lord will be resurrected to eternal life and loved ones will be reunited to enjoy the blessed new creation. In the meantime, we must trust in the Lord, while finding hope in the better things of life that come through fellowshipping with family and the saints of God. Life hurts, but hope helps. Follow Christ who is our hope. Apart from him there is no hope. Spread the message of hope. Be a beacon of hope for others, even in the little things in life.