Life and death are an inseparable part of God’s plan. Unwelcome happenings: deadly plane crash in Indonesia, epidemics in West Africa, armed conflicts, murders in New York or Indianapolis disrupting lives are a daily occurrence. When loved ones die, in accidents, natural disasters, incurable diseases, or under circumstances beyond our control, it is devastating.
The barbaric massacre of innocent school children in Peshawar, Pakistan; horrific murders of Indianapolis’ Abdul Rahman Peter Kassig and the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot by ISIS in Syria; the recent deadly terrorist attack in Paris leave our spirits numb in shock and disbelief at such tragedies.
Violent assaults in workplaces, schools, theaters, shopping centers, places of worship, public gathering places, and neighborhoods that are supposed to be safe “sacred spaces” and not where insanity, ideology, culture, and man’s madness victimize innocents. The heartbreak for victims’ families is unimaginable. Such violent deaths leave deep scars on human souls.
How does one find light or offer hope to families in the intense darkness and nightmare of such moments? How does one reconcile the shock of empty places at the table for these families?
We agonize and wonder:
when will there be an end to man’s inhumanity and a cure for what ails the human race?
The answers are hard to come by, but some tragedies put personal pain and unimaginable human anguish in perspective. Sometimes it is difficult to accept unwelcome events that separate us from those whom God calls Home. Yet, we know that God’s reassurance, precious memories, and prayers are needed at such times. When I lost my parents and recently three beloved siblings in India, my shattered spirit turned to faith as my sanctuary and remembered: a scientist miraculously recovering from a deadly brain tumor during continuous reading of the Sikh Scriptures at the Golden Temple; 33 coal miners trapped in the deepest mine disaster amazingly lifted to safety in Chile; 17 year old Malala Yousafzai survived the Taliban bullets in 2012 in Pakistan to receive the 2014 Nobel Prize for Peace; 7-year old Sailor Gutzler “carried by angels” to safety from a burning aircraft in Kentucky recently. I witnessed my family fleeing to safety during the murderous mayhem of the Partition of
India in 1947 that claimed millions of lives.
Meditation and reflection on the divine promise of God’s limitless benevolence and healing places before us that God is at-work: healing scars, comforting, reassuring, and present at a million places at the same time to fill emptiness in our hearts and spirits. We, in faith, need to seek His Grace.
For me, reflecting on the lives and faith of my parents, beloved siblings, and enlightened mentors have been empowering blessings. Guided by memories of shared times and events as my anchors, I have searched for creative passions to honor their memory.
Others have found assurance in prayer and pilgrimages, comfort in loving remembrances, strength in leaning on friends and kindred spirits, direction in acts of kindness, meaning in immersing in uplifting ideas and endeavors; looking for God-Light with hope in faith, family, and worthy pursuits to ease their grief.
For many, throughout history in moments of uncertainty, the living legacy and transcendent spiritual energy of Divine Messengers, learned teachers, celebrated humanitarians, ordinary souls witnessing the impossible and extraordinary, remain emancipating testimony to reshape and discover much-needed hope.