How do you make sense of the Florida bridge collapse? Five of the victims just happened to be in vehicles under the 950-ton structure when it gave way. In split-seconds, their lives were gone. In the blink of an eye, their loved ones were catapulted into heartbreak.
The fact is, it makes no sense. It is NONsense. And, too often, that is the nature of life. Bombings are terrorizing Austin, Texas. Children are being abused and neglected throughout our nation and world. Doctors are breaking the news of terrible and terminal illnesses to individuals and families as you read these words. Criminals are having their way with unsuspecting innocents in school hallways, on city streets and online. For too many, life is taking unexpected twists and turns that dishearten and demoralize.
Is there a way to make any sense of it?
That’s what we try to do. We grieve, we hurt, and we try to figure it out.
But the world is broken. Evil runs rampant. Even creation groans in decay. And evil and brokenness are, by nature, chaotic. The question remains, however, “Why?” And the big “Why?” has to do with the One who is supposed to be in charge: Why does God let chaos have its way?
Joining voices throughout the ages, I’ve asked that question about the heartbreak in my life. Over the past few months, you may have been reading some of the stories behind my book, “Hope When Your Heart Breaks.” Many more of those stories can be told. You may have a number of your own stories to tell. But what do you do when nonsensical hurt invades your heart and overruns your soul? What do you do with it?
A first-century tower collapse that killed eighteen people may offer guidance. Jesus alluded to the tragedy in Luke chapter 13 when He said, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:4 ESV)
Siloam was a neighborhood in Jerusalem. The pool of Siloam was where a blind man was healed in John chapter 9. In both the collapse and the healing, the people around Jesus were trying to make sense of chaos. What was Jesus’ response to the inquiries? He didn’t explain. He didn’t satisfy anyone’s curiosity. He didn’t try to get God off the hook. Instead, He let everyone know that they were only able to see part of the story.
That’s not a very comfortable place, but it may be the pathway to find peace in hurtful chaos. After musician Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter Maria died tragically, he wrote the song “The Glorious Unfolding.” The lyrics begin, “Lay your head down tonight, Take a rest from the fight, Don’t try to figure it out.” Later, the song challenges, “So hold on to every promise God has made to us, And watch this glorious unfolding.”
Letting God figure out the chaos is part of where He leads us during heartbreak. It’s essential to let go. That’s what the word “forgiveness” means. Instead of figuring everything out, we can throw the burden of nonsense upon God’s shoulders. The problem won’t necessarily be solved. The pain won’t be gone. The tears and torment may not cease. But it’s a beginning. Offloading the unsolvable onto someone who is able to carry it opens the door to freedom and a future. Chaos will cause hurt, but it can’t paralyze you if you refuse to hold onto it. And if you’re not hanging on to a crippling burden, your hands are free to receive God’s blessings and cling to His promises.