God Didn't Cause This
As I write this, I am still in shock over the news that one of my church members was just in a tragic accident that she will not recover from. She was a vibrant young woman, mother to two boys, loving wife, and an incredible human being.
Our church family is also in a state of profound grief, but nothing compared to what her family is feeling this morning as they wake up to a new and sorrowful reality.
This isn't fair. It's not right.
There's no way to spin this positively that doesn't sound trite and empty.
Trust me, I've tried so many times. In fact, I can still see the faces of the people I tried to comfort...
The couple whose three-year-old son drowned in their pool.
The young man and his child whose wife had just committed suicide.
A wife whose husband of forty plus years who fell dead just days after his retirement.
The list goes on... and on...
And don't try to tell someone who has lost their dearest one that God has a plan. Just don't.
Don't say something monumentally stupid like, "God just wanted to take them home."
Don't make God into a monster because you don't know what to say.
It would be better to say nothing and to simply be present--to sit shiva as it is known in the Jewish tradition.
But if you must say something, say this: God didn't do this.
God didn't cause the accident... the disease... the tragedy. God didn't "allow" it either. It just happened.
Things happen in this world. They just do. God has willed us and all of Creation to be free in our choices to live and to love, and sometimes we choose poorly or awful things just happen.
This needs to be said... we very well might not feel God's presence in those moments of soul-crushing anguish. We have to be honest enough to admit that.
And it's all because God is love, and it goes against the very nature of God to be coercive, and so God may at times seem so far away. It might even feel in those moments that God has abandoned us, but rest assured---God hasn't.
Here is what I believe: God doesn't cause all things, but I know that God is present in all things.
God suffers with us in our grief. God mourns with us after a tragedy. God is brokenhearted over the kind of loss that leaves us breathless and broken.
God sits shiva with us, sometimes in silence and sometimes breathing words of love through the kindness and prayers of those others who are sitting shiva with us. But God is with us.
And know this... though it might be small comfort in the middle of our profound grief, our dear ones who are lost to us, are not lost to God. They are one with God at last--fully and completely. They now know and understand everything. They are in perfect peace.
And in some strange way that is both mysterious and wonderful, because our loved ones are one with God, who is all around us, in us and through us... they are also present with us. We are surrounded by them, and they are never gone.
May you find hope in this knowledge. May you find the strength to believe even though you may not understand. And may the grace and peace of the Risen Christ be with you now and always. Amen.