I had to travel to Calgary on Sunday afternoon to help with the closing  sale of my parents’ home. Just as I boarded the plane in Sioux City, I received news of a tragic accident involving the child of people I knew growing up in Calgary. The news of the tragedy continues to make my heart and head spin. In conversations during the week, I was told some of the family members connected to the event were asking how they could face life going forward. I do not believe their question is trivial. Their world has been rattled and shaken to its depths. In praying for them and pondering the question, I found myself considering the words of Hebrews 12:1-2. They read:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

This family did not choose this race, but it was set before them. And from the glimpse I was offered into the situation, I believe that the tragedy is an enormous weight they now feel. it will mark their lives until they meet Jesus. But what is more unsettling, it could consume their lives. I do not believe that is what God wants for them. But how can they face life when their tragedy is engulfing them? How can they lay aside this weight? The answer to both of those questions is the same. It is found in the opening words of verse 2. Facing life when it is crushing demands help and support beyond what any of us have. That is why the writer of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus.

I confess that I am not able to fathom how to understand tragic deaths and events. As my siblings shared thoughts in our group text, we were reminded of similar tragedies involving a cousin and another with a family friend. I still feel sadness over both of those events which happened more than 40 years ago. My limited ability to fathom is another reminder to me of the need I have to look to Jesus. He endured a profound tragedy, dying as the sacrifice for our sins that included shame and hostility. He has the strength to help us with the biggest and smallest weights of our lives. Please, as you finish your week and we prepare to worship together, look to Jesus. As our founder an perfecter, He can help us run with endurance.