I keep wondering where I was the precise moment his body crashed through the roof of the seventh floor.
I couldn't have missed him but by a few minutes, judging by the blood that had barely begun to pool around his head where he slammed into the smooth, solid stone floor.
What was I doing as he made his one-way climb up the elevator?
What was I thinking as he approached the ledge of the city's tallest building and took flight?
"One more hour and I'm out of here"
"The weather is gorgeous"
"I wish I outside"
For the briefest moment, as I rounded the corner and found him crumpled there, it was as if I had entered an alternate reality where Death confronted me to my face and a simple service hallway now doubled as a tomb.
The light let in by the gaping hole in the ceiling made the dust shimmer and dance, coming to rest softly on the body of a man whose life ended 3 floors ago.
He was so still. I have never seen anyone so still. His stillness strangled the prayers in my throat.
"Oh, God, no." "Oh, God, please." "Please, no, God."
There would be no resurrection this time.
No miracle healing.
No happy ending.
Which made me wonder: where God was as he approached the ledge?
I am driven by the deep conviction that the God of Jesus whom we meet in the pages of Scripture does not sit in the heavens above aloof and emotionally detached from our frail human lives.
In stark contrast, God manifests Himself powerfully at the very ledge of our misery.
And while we ask what good is God at the ledge if people still jump, the question subtly reverses His role and ours.
Call me a sheep, but I confess God as the Sovereign Lord of the universe and the supreme Ground of all Good whom no man can gainsay.
His worth does not hang on how often He deals with evil and human suffering to our liking.
Our assurance instead is that He "works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will" (Eph. 1:11; emphasis mine).
He wastes nothing. Nothing is in vain.
And this is God's purpose: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:4).
We know God can accomplish this because He is mighty, wise, and benevolent.
We know he will accomplish this because it's precisely what he did at the cross.
A seemingly insignificant act of human evil, whereby a Jewish peasant died for crimes he didn't commit, became the means by which death was defeated, sin slain, and countless men came to count God as their Heavenly Father.
What man intended for evil, God in His sovereign arrangement and foresight used for ultimate good.
The way God interacts with human evil and suffering is not in stopping every tragedy or wicked act.
Rather, like an artist or a craftsman, He pieces together the good and the bad into a mosaic that will one day reveal His ultimate end: the elimination of all evil and suffering through the victorious return of Jesus to the earth.
Where there is smoke there is fire. Evil and suffering are the smoke alerting us to a world on fire with sin and leaving us asking for a solution.
An old rugged cross and an empty tomb are God's answer.
God meets us at the ledge with nails marks in his hands and feet telling us he died so we don't have to.
God meets us at the ledge in the shadow of a cross victorious over the lies that make men throw themselves off 49-story buildings.
God meets us at the ledge with a promise of a future glory so weighty it makes our worst problems seem light and momentary.
While the Bible itself agrees, "yet at present we do not see everything subject to him", it reminds "we see Jesus...now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Heb. 2:8-9).
God was with that man on the ledge.
And while he still chose to jump, the cross is my assurance his death will not have the final word but that of Jesus Christ.