So many questions are raised. Why were they on the tracks? Why didn't they hear the blasting train whistle? Why didn't they feel the vibrations from the pounding, oncoming train? Why didn't they jump? What could have prevented this? Why have these precious lives been so sadly ended at age 14 and 15? What future sccomplishments have been denied this trio which now their families, friends and schoolmates will never know? The questions continue without answer.
How will those left behind ever recover from this HUGE grief?
As I learned of this incident, my heart ached for the girls' families, of course, but also for my daughter who would have to have strength, wisdom and words of compassion for the classroom Monday morning. She would be facing another day on the front line with students who had just been jolted because of the sudden, tragic loss of classmates. How could she prepare for Monday morning? Where would her strength and answers come from?
My mind went immediately to Psalm 46 and my first email quoted these comforting words:
When life has no answers and is painful almost beyond endurance, only God can be the "ever-present help in trouble". He is the solid rock on which we can stand. He can provide peace that passes understanding. He calms the storm as it rages and threatens to sink us. We can cling to His truth and hope which provides the courage to meet the challenge of a classroom filled with hurt and pain or any other overwhelming crisis.
Has this hope ever been proven in our family's life in the past? My husband recalls the worst tragedy our family faced which happened when his only brother was killed in a car accident in 1983. He left a wife and three children ages 5 - 12. He added his memory of the impact of Psalm 46 in an email to our daughter and I share it here:
"It (Psalm 46) is the Psalm that immediately came to Mary Jane’s mind when your Uncle Jim was killed. He had taught the family a versified version set to music and they sang it together as a family when she broke the news to their children. And I think it was sung again in the memorial services. A Google search reveals that there are many such versifications, but the first and last stanzas of the one referenced are thus:
Psalm 46, The Scottish Psalter 1650
Tune: Winchester Old “Este’s Psalter” 1592
Common Meter 4/4 time Key Bb
God is our Refuge and our Strength,
In straits a present aid;
Therefore, although the earth remove,
We will not be afraid.
The hills amidst the seas be cast;
Though water roaring make
And troubled be; yea though the hills
By swelling seas do shake.
A river is, whose streams make glad
The City of our God
The holy place, wherein the Lord
Most high hath His abode.
God in the midst of her doth dwell;
And nothing shall her move;
The Lord to her a helper will,
And that right early, prove."
There are no easy answers to the horrors experienced during life in this fallen world. But there is a God who can be known personally, who cares about our pain and who provides us with refuge, strength and ever-present help in trouble.
I'm praying that this truth will sustain those deeply grieving this week in central Florida and wherever else the shock of tragedy has struck.