Sadness, grief, confusion, disappointment, discouragement, hurt, pain – let’s see are there other emotions that I need to cover at the loss of a colleague who took his life Sunday morning? John, I do not understand. Perhaps you didn’t either. Your family, your church family, your colleagues and friends wish they could have absorbed some of the hurts or fears or desperation you may have felt but we couldn’t and we didn’t. You reached out to me two times when I was going through a challenging and difficult time and for that I am extremely grateful. Others have shared similar experiences. Few know the weight that pastors must bear – the secrets they carry – the personal struggles they hide for fear of appearing weak. People can accept an illness of their pastor, they may be able to cope with an addiction that a pastor’s family member may have, they can handle the misbehavior of a child (Who doesn’t experience that?) – but there are things hidden – depression that is unseen, traits that are undiagnosed, and hurts that need healing and who heals the wounded healer? When will we stop to making the pastor the “Imago Christi?”
Prayer – a prayer of silence is what I lift up. No words can express to John’s family or others in the circle of relationships that will suffice. We mourn deeply and poignantly. There is that part of me that wants to know why. Perhaps because it touches so close to our heart and our own life – an age mate – a co-worker in the Kingdom. It is enough for now to know Who’s he was even though there may be no answer to the why.
“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15)