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On a Sunny Morning

by and William Hendricks on July 7, 2006 in Book Excerpts
In October 2003, I marked the third anniversary of Nancy’s death. The next morning, a Wednesday, was another spectacularly gorgeous day, more like spring than fall (we don’t really do fall in Dallas; we just open up the windows and let the air conditioning cool things down).
Anyway, it was the sort of day when all seemed right with the world. Sun shining. Leaves turning. Birds singing. Dogs barking. Parents hugging their kids good-bye. Neighbors waving on their way to work. And a parade of schoolchildren walking, skipping, biking, and scootering their way to the elementary school just up the street.
A mother walks her two girls to the thoroughfare between their block and the neighborhood of the school. Look one way. Look the other. No cars. Okay, it’s safe. Into the intersection goes the four-year-old, then the mother, then the first-grader on her Razor Scooter.
Just then an SUV sitting at the intersection across the street pulls forward. Without warning, it turns left—right over the first-grader. Later, the driver would tell officers that he was blinded by the morning sun and never saw the little girl.
But three years and a day after I held my wife’s hand as she slipped into eternity in a tragic and premature way, a mother just blocks from my house held her daughter’s hand as she lay in the street and slipped into eternity in a tragic and premature way. And two more families, and classmates, and teachers, and neighbors joined us in the House of Mourning.
It was my responsibility on the following Sunday to teach the second of a two-part series to a class at my church. The first week I had spoken on God’s lovingkindness from Psalm 136, which twenty-six times insists that God’s lovingkindness is everlasting. And then that tragic “unintentional injury” occurred to a little girl in our community. I found myself silenced. And a bit embarrassed, to be honest. Rebuked, was how I felt. Rebuked by life and by “reality.”
Where was God’s lovingkindness for that precious little girl? That was the obvious question. Where was God’s lovingkindness for that poor mother? Where was God’s lovingkindness for the little sister who watched the whole tragedy unfold? Where was God’s lovingkindness for the eighteen-year-old driver and his family? Where was God’s lovingkindness for everyone else who loved those involved in the tragedy?
Psalm 136 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Oh really? In what sense is it “everlasting”? And what about that proverb I cited earlier? “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.” How so? In what sense is it “better”?
I had planned to teach on other things that Sunday. But the loss of that little girl just taunted me: “So, Bill, have you learned anything through your experience with Nancy’s death that might be useful in a time like this?” The book that follows is what I ended up saying.
But before I say it, let me say this to the reader. As you may have guessed by now, I approach grief as a Christian, and I write from my perspective as a Christian. However, this book is not just for Christians. It’s for anyone who knows grief, loss, pain, or suffering. Because the experience of those sorrows is universal.
I recognize that not every reader will share my beliefs. That’s fine. My hope is that regardless of your faith, religion, or spirituality, you will benefit from my experience. Because should you ever find yourself in the House of Mourning, you’ll discover a perfect cross section of the world. We’ve got people with all kinds of beliefs and disbeliefs about God here. And the interesting thing about mourning is that it more or less forces out what people really hold to and hold on to. What follows is what the burden of the last ten years has forced out of me.

Taken from, The Light That Never Dies, Moody Publishers, copyright 2005 by William Hendricks. Used with permission.
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