Today, as snow covers the city, it covers a city in grief.
Hundreds will be gathering this afternoon at St.Philip’s Cathedral in the centre of Birmingham to pay their respects to the Edkin family and to mourn the tragic death of 16 year old Christina Edkin.
We were all shocked and outraged when we heard the news on the 7th March that the life of an innocent girl had been cruelly taken in such appalling circumstances as she travelled to school. Now is not the time to discuss the details. Today we stand side by side with family and friends; assure them of our prayers and offer some comfort.
But what comfort can we offer to hearts that are broken? What hope can we speak of in such hopeless circumstances? I am conscious that it is easy to speak of our respect. It is easy to speak of our prayers and our condolences. It is easy for these words to be just words, empty statements, mere platitudes, assuring the grieving family of nothing more than our thoughts.
I do to doubt there is a measure of comfort in this, but I wonder, is there not a greater hope, a more substantial comfort that we could offer?
I refer you to the quotation on the tag line of this blog, from the well-known English thinker and writer, GK Chesterton:
Hope means hoping when things are hopeless or it is no virtue at all … As long as matter are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude. It is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.
This hope must come from outside of ourselves, for we acknowledge our situation is truly hopeless – we can do nothing.
I want to offer these thoughts to the Edkin family today, and to all who find themselves in such hopeless circumstances. There is hope! Real, substantial hope, and that hope is only to be found in The Lord God. Let me draw your attention to the Bible, to Psalm 31, and particularly to the closing phrase:
Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart,
all ye that hope in the Lord.
Reading through the Psalm in full (see my previous post) we notice that the Psalmist, David, is in a similarly hopeless situation. He can say “mine eye is consumed with grief, yea my soul and my belly”, but realising the hopelessness of his circumstances in life, he cries out to the One who can lift him up, The Lord.
Notice four things:
1) He acknowledges the ability of God to deal with his hopeless circumstances.
2) He casts himself wholly upon God as the One who can deliver him and give him hope.
3) He experiences the working of God in his life, bringing hope into a hopeless situation.
4) He encourages us to look to The Lord in our hopelessness and find there a real and living hope.
I encourage you to spend time reading through Psalm 31, and consider these things. I cannot bring you any hope myself, but I point you to One who can bring hope into your hopelessness, The Lord God.
My prayers are with you in your grief, and I trust you find this hope that can carry you through.
If you would like to speak to me further, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org