Life After Loss: Introduction

September 03, 2021

Life After Loss: Introduction

William L. Peirson

‘But you know the end of the story,’ I said to a young woman who had come to New College for the first time and was sharing with me of a life disabled by anxiety.

This young woman had already expressed firm Christian belief: that she looked to God who will put things right.

Welcome to the devastation edition of Case Quarterly.

When the impacts of COVID-19 commenced, there was a flurry of writing about difficult times. After all, it came on the heels of a protracted drought, the worst bushfires ever seen in Australia, and a series of destructive floods. Dr. Dani Scarratt and I wanted to pause and reflect before asking our contributors to put pen to paper.

Over the past 18 months, there have been some surreal aspects to life. At the time of writing, Sydney is announcing increased case numbers every day, despite spending the last eight weeks in lockdown. There is no end in sight. Other regions of Australia, and indeed the world, are moving in and out of restrictions of varying lengths and severity at a bewildering rate. The present situation is so unlike our experience just two years ago. Will it ever end?

Is this just a bad dream?

It is not. Real people have lost real loved ones. Real people have lost real businesses and real livelihoods. Students at New College and New College Postgraduate Village have lost immediate family. Some have had to put their studies on hold as they returned overseas to care for their grieving loved ones. Many of us, like the young woman I was talking to, carry with us a burden of pain that is invisible to those around us.

We take this time of uncertainty and distress to reflect more deeply on the Bible’s teaching on suffering. The contributions to this edition are not merely theoretical. They offer genuine, practical insight into the experience of loss, and living in its shadow. We sincerely thank our writers for sharing their wisdom and experience at this difficult time.

Stuart Adamson takes us on a journey through the disorientation that is experienced through deep loss. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we arrive at the foot of the cross where Jesus died, and hope is assured. This hope is spelt out more fully by Paul Williamson, who explains what it is that those of us who cling to that cross are waiting for in faith.

In a beautiful piece, Emma Dunn reflects on the experience of losing our dear friend, Steph, and the gap that remains in our lives when we lose those we deeply love. How do we find hope when our hearts are so broken?

The latter part of the Old Testament chronicles a time when the Jewish people were experiencing heartbreak, humiliation and dashed dreams. Anthony Petterson draws deep parallels between those times and our present, applying the ancient wisdom of the prophets to our experiences of loss today.

Life is not trivial. The message of the Bible is not one of distant dreams or easy fixes. It’s a message from One who is far bigger than we can imagine yet somehow, miraculously, came to share and bear our deepest sorrows and troubles in his only Son, Jesus.

This is not an easy edition to read. In spite of the challenges, Dani and I trust that in its pages you will find comfort, encouragement, and hope.

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