Only the 150 on board the Germanwings flight from Barcelona experienced the physical terror of the crash, but countless others now face their own emotional free fall.
Sixteen teenagers and their teachers were among those on the flight. They were returning from a cultural exchange where they experienced new perspectives, communicated in a foreign language, and built bridges of understanding.
But this tragic crash, this final horrible perspective – who translates this for those they left behind?
“We can’t take away your pain,” said the German state education official. “We can only share it, and through the common sharing offer a little comfort.”
The shock moves outward, like ripples in the water.
Ripples that cross continents and mountains and oceans and cultures.
The ripples wash over us through news reports and pictures.
We notice the ripples, pausing to frown and sigh, but they don’t change our day.
We continue on.
We offer a prayer and perhaps shed a tear.
But we continue on.
Have we really shared their pain?
Does our caring cause a large enough return ripple in the cosmic fabric for them to notice?
Do they feel comforted?
For a time.
But when the press conferences end and the cameras move on to the next crash, when the makeshift altars of candles and notes and stuffed animals are removed, who will remember their pain? Who will remember besides them?
Who will share their pain when our best intentions and sincere concern have turned to a new shock and crisis? Newer ripples?
God will remember their pain, share their pain, comfort them.
The pain is personal.
So is God.
“His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:29b)