As you prepare to hear my sermon this Sunday, I ask you to contemplate on the story below. Please read Luke 13: 1-9 and 1 Corinthians 10: 1-13 and be ready to engage in God's word this Sunday morning.
Trevor Beeson stood at the high altar of Westminster Abbey to celebrate the marriage of his daughter, Catharine, to Anthony, aged twenty-three. Nine months later he stood before the saame altar for Anthony's funeral, who was killed when his car ran into a wall in East London. Four months later, Trevor returned to the altar beside the coffin of his friend and hero Earl Mountbatten, who died when his fishing boat was blown to pieces by Irish terrorist. Reflecting on the experience, he said he could not blame God for these senseless tragedies. He wrote:
I should find it impossible to believe in, and worship, a God who arranged for the great servants of the community to be blown up on their holidays and who deliberately turned a young man's car into a brick wall...This is not the God of love whose ways are revealed in the Bible and supremely in the life of Jesus Christ.
Beeson found two insights that helped him to cope with his tragedy and to look beyond it: "The first is that, although God is not responsible for causing tragedy, he is not a detached observer of our suffering. On the contrary, he is immersed in it with us, sharing to the full our particular grief and pain. This is the fundamental significance of the cross."
Second, although we naturally ask, "Why did it happen?" Beeson discovered that the more important question is "What are we going to make of it?"; "Every tragedy contains within it the seeds of resurrection." This is, after all, the whole point of our pilgrimage through Lent, to Good Friday, and Easter morning.
Are those who experience innocent suffering worse than anyone else? Of course not. It can happen to any of us.
But is there a connection between innocent suffering and human action? Of course there is, and unless we change our way of living, we may all experience the same suffering.
What does Jesus offer us when we experience this kind of suffering? The power of God to hold us firm, to give us strength, and to see us through.
See you in Church!