When I was 10 years old, my closest neighborhood friends died in a house fire along with their parents. There was Chris (same age as me), Kevin, and little Kimberly. It was barely comprehensible to me at that age.
I remember waking up around 2 AM to the sound of my mother weeping grievously as she sat on the floor next to my father in our living room. He was crying as well, though more contained. People were scattered in small huddles all around the dark street, and the remnants of flames came shining a few houses down from the demolished structure. As I approached the house with my parents, I first saw what I presumed to be Chris' body lying atop the gurney covered by a red sheet. In my simplest way, I said, "Goodbye, Chris." I don't suppose I fully understood the magnitude of the situation at the time, though it was certainly hard to believe that these friends of mine were all gone forever.
The day slowly began to come upon us, and we learned that the father had survived for a short while in the hospital. But he finally succumbed to 90% burns that he had sustained while trying to save his family.
Now as I write this, I am remembering the funeral service, a very sad spectacle with the five coffins lined up before a large crowd of people. And now my heart breaks again as I think of it.
I shared this story with my wife one day after having it submerged within my soul for twenty-some-odd years. Having been a believer in God since 1998, I still struggle with the the whole idea of suffering, especially of the seemingly innocent. I accept it, but I struggle with it. This was a precious family, Mormon in faith, gentle and kind in all my memories of them. Why did God let it happen? For those who cannot deny their trust in the sovereign God, this can certainly be troubling. And there are many instances of Christians having to come to terms with this issue throughout history. In fact, how many biblical accounts do we have of such unfathomable tragedies! Job is one of the first to come to mind. And his responses to the Creator's dealings with him were remarkable.
More to come in a future post...