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The Word on the Week

Death by Misadventure

There are no words which can adequately describe the horror of finding your infant dead from heatstroke in the back of your car. The knowledge that it was your fault adds to the feelings of desolation. The stark reality is that this happened on Thursday in Co Tipperary.
There can be no ameliorating factors. The clock cannot be put back. The omission to drop the 7 month old Chloe at the crèche, compounded by the continuing memory lapse till after 13.00 the father remembered – too late.
Ireland seldom gets a heatwave but last Thursday temperatures soared into the mid-twenties. There was no breeze nor shade where the car was parked.
Conditions resembled the US where we are told some 38 such tragedies occur annually.
The personal desolation experienced by parents and those nearest to them leaves an indelible imprint on their lives.
Emotions can so easily run riot with the circumstances of Thursday being ceaselessly recalled and blame allocated and re-allocated. Then, like those in Manchester who suffered the death of 22 largely young people at the hands of a suicide bomber, the question ‘why’ arises.
Could God not have intervened? Is there no justice? These cries echo the Psalmist, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13 verses 1/2).
None of us need to be reminded that we live in a very dysfunctional world. Things are not as they ought to be. The “sorrow in my heart” of the Psalmist is all too commonly experienced. Indeed, it may well be daily as in David’s case. This did not mean that he gave up praying; still less stop believing in an all-powerful God. His faith triumphed over feelings.
Isaiah reminds us that these things happen in a fallen world. “Can a woman forget the baby at her breast
And have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you.
See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me” (Chapter 49 verses 15/16).
Even in the brokenness of Jerusalem, her walls were in ruins, his memory would have no lapses.
In Christ we see this plainly in his nail-pierced hands, when on the cross he identified with our brokenness and his marvelously reassuring promise “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (St Matthew Chapter 28 verse 20).