By Dane Terrell
Like many of you, Sunday was a difficult day at the Terrell house. My 16 year old son learned that one of his teammates had passed away unexpectedly in an ATV accident. My 15 year old daughter learned that one of her teammates was the driver. Our day paled in comparison to the days that the Walker family, or the Barfield family, must have had. I cannot imagine.
Only 24 hours before this, we had been in preparation for a homecoming dance. I watched teenagers dressed in their Sunday best, huddled together for pre-dance pictures, goofy selfies, and awkward not-quite-couples poses. We had sat down together to enjoy two of the best things that fall has offer, football and gumbo. I know that many of you did the same. Social media was covered with beautiful pictures of beautiful people. Good times.
Now, we found ourselves sitting around a table, struggling to eat. My oldest two, that had looked like young adults just 24 hours ago, now looked more like children again. We cried together. One because he lost a friend, one because she worried about a friend, and the rest of us because we saw the people that we loved struggling to understand.
The question that we were all thinking, wasn’t actually asked. It didn’t have to be. It was understood. It was unanimous. It was, ”Why?” Why did this happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? What possible purpose could this serve? How does a God of infinite love allow this evil on his people? This may be the hardest question a person of faith ever has to answer.
We eventually found peace, though temporary, in sleep. We awoke to find ourselves back in our routine. It was almost normal, almost comfortable. How fitting that the first day of homecoming week was pajama day. The school set aside classes to counsel. The parents set to doing the things that grown-ups do, when we don’t know what else to do. We brought comfort food. High in calories and love. We collected the items that we thought the family might need. We even collected monies. Still, I couldn’t get THAT question out of my mind.
This morning, now two days removed, I found my mind wondering. It wondered back 2000 years. Jesus and his disciples had been traveling the land. You know the stories. The miracles He performed. He turned water into wine. He made the blind see. He healed the sick. He helped the crippled walk. He raised the dead from the grave. Those that followed him came to know him as the Messiah. The Son of Man. I imagine what it must’ve been like for those followers, and even for his mother, standing on Calvary. Watching their beloved leader, being beaten, tortured, and eventually killed. How it must’ve felt laying him in the grave and covering it with a stone. Surely, they questioned their faith. We were told that Peter, perhaps His most beloved, denied him three times. Why would God allow his Son to die this way? Wouldn’t God have been better served by sending angels on chariots to grab Jesus off of the cross? The disciples must have felt lost, just like I’m sure many of the students at NCHS are feeling lost even today.
Today, I sit down to write so that those that need to hear it know, that that was not the end of the story. The stone was rolled away. That body, which was beaten and bruised, wrapped in cloth, and laid in the tomb, didn’t stay there. Jesus performed another miracle, and conquered the grave. Though the disciples couldn’t see it at the time, his death had a purpose. Jesus was sacrificed to save the souls of all those that believe in him. Imagine the joy that they felt on Easter morning when Martha told them of what they had found. Imagine how their hearts were filled when Jesus joined them and told them, “Peace be with you.”
To my children, all of the students, faculty, and staff at NCHS, and to the families, that are in so much pain today; this is a time to mourn. Lean on and love each other with all that you have. Lift up those families in prayer and bring them the things that they need to make it through this trying time. Honor Robert and remember the good times that you had. Comfort Jade. Be there for her. There will be more tears, and that is ok. Focus on those in need, and not on the “Why?” One day, we will know. One day, we will understand. It may take longer than it took Jesus’ disciples. It may even take longer than our lifetimes, but always keep the faith that God will fulfill his promises.