A few weeks ago, in the face of a blatant and bigoted assault, I wrote of resurrection and triumph. Since then, I’ve learned that the most difficult moments to live the Christian life are not when faced with such open hostility. Indeed, when the entire weight of the world sets itself against some truth in a boisterous fit is often when your faith seems strongest. There is something about staring blatant evil in its face that strengthens your resolve. It’s easy to be heroic in open battle beneath the walls of Troy. It’s when we face death alone at sea that even the greatest of heroes cry out in fear and grief.
The hardest moments to truly be a Christian don’t come when the entire world is bearing down you. Instead, the most difficult moments to maintain the attitude and hope of the Christian are those still and quiet moments of tragedy that seem to be completely devoid of all joy and all hope. We all experience such moments. I’ve had them driving through my town that was devastated by a hurricane. No electricity or television. No bustling in the streets. Only silence. It’s the same feeling that comes when you stand over the grave of a loved one and the rest of the world around you seems to just cancel out for a few moments.
I can’t begin to imagine the pain that the families of Moore, Oklahoma have had to endure the past few days. Thus far at least seven of the deceased are children, many of whom were in their school-building which lay directly in the tornado’s path. Several more are missing still missing in the rubble.
Most have never experienced the type of devastation that is witnessed on the news reports from Oklahoma. I’m sure the photographs don’t do the depth of the tragedy justice. The sense that you can’t relate to the pain makes any attempt at words seem futile.
This is in a sense true. There are no words. While grieving the passing of his wife, C.S. Lewis implored his friends to “Talk about the truth of religion…. Talk about the duty of religion…. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t really understand.”
I don’t know if there is anything I could possibly say to comfort the families in Oklahoma who are dealing with tragedy, but I know that merely quoting some Scripture and explaining the Sovereignty of God won’t do the trick. It’s certainly important to remember, but to borrow another analogy from Lewis, remembering the good intentions of the dentist doesn’t lessen the pain of the drilling.
For now, it is sufficient to give if you can, and to pray. The people of Oklahoma and the many volunteers working to help them deserve all the support they can get. They represent what is best in America. Dozens of private organizations and hundreds of emergency workers have already responded to the tragedy and answered the call to help their neighbors. Entire communities were wiped out in a matter of minutes, but the solidarity that Americans feel in the wake of such tragedies is what makes this country great. No words can top the miracle that we have witnessed as fellow citizens rushed to aid those in need.
A few weeks ago it seemed easy to write with confidence of great and unchangeable truths. Today the task is much more difficult. Not because they seem less real, but because the noise is gone. There is no battle, no arguments, and no yelling or righteous indignation. There is only silence, the unbearable weight of pain, and the sheer inability of any human words to effectively offer consolation.
I last wrote of the Resurrection and the Life. It seems fitting here to remember that He is also the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief.
Those affected by the tornado in Oklahoma are in our constant prayers and thoughts.
Brian Miller | George Mason University College of Law | @BrianKenMiller