There is some trauma that just can't be forgotten. Some wounds from which we will bear the scars for the rest of our lives. We may have to live with pain that never goes away. But we can live with it.
I think of my wife, who has lost both of her parents over the years. She would tell you that there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't miss them, and wishes she could just talk to them. There is an emptiness in her heart that will never go away this side of the veil.
I think of a former coworker who recently lost his wife. I know he misses her, but I also find it interesting that he is still the same old laconic individual I have always known. Surely there are times when he feels the loneliness.
I think of a former student who survived a tornado that obliterated the house in which she and her family were taking shelter, and killed two of her sons' playmates that just minutes before had left her home. Now even a stray thunderstorm causes her pain.
There are so many others: A former pastor from southwest Arkansas; a grieving mother from Saline County, a wife from Hope, among others. They have all had their hearts ripped out, and must live with the emptiness for the rest of their lives.
But there are a couple of things I have noticed about these people.
First, yes, they sometimes cry themselves to sleep because of the desolation they have faced. The pain of loss is sometimes crushing, and occasionally they give in to the grief.
But, second, is this fact: These people -- all of them -- get up the next morning and charge into the day with persistent grit and dogged determination. And they do it because they have something in common: The faith that someday, somehow, somewhere, they will be recompensed for the grief they have had to carry throughout their lives; that someday, somehow, somewhere, everything wrong will be set right; that someday, somehow, somewhere, they will again see and touch those loved ones they have lost.
They have this faith because they cling to the One who gave it to them: the Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ.
That wife and mother who survived the tornado recently said this: "Jesus never promised an easy life, or a life free from pain. If He did, then His life made no sense whatsoever. He promised a power and a hope to give strength to the weary and power to the powerless... He promised a life far beyond this one that makes our present sufferings, strife and sorrow pale in comparison to the joy set before us in eternal life with Him."
I could not have said it better.
I end with this, which I believe will happen, and which gives me hope:
"He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that [will be] gone forever." Revelation 21:4 (TLB)
Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and is currently a large-vehicle transportation specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (Okay, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenance technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are those of the author.