My mom called tonight, absolutely stricken because a friend of hers, a young mother who had given birth to twins just two months ago, had suddenly died. I remember meeting this young woman while she was still pregnant, driving Mom over to take a meal to her, her husband, and their five-year-old daughter. She was just radiant, so excited about the coming babies, so happy in her life.
God, why? Why did this have to happen? Why will these babies never again feel their mother’s embrace? Why does this husband now have to face life without his beloved wife? Why would a little girl have to lose her mommy? In between tragedies, I forget how searingly unanswerable such questions are. I know that people have always asked. And many, hearing no reply, have turned and walked away from faith.
So I have to wonder: why ask you for anything, God? Does it do any good? Do you cause or prevent certain things from happening? Do you protect people? Do you not? I know that being a follower of Christ does not mean I have a magic barrier around me that deflects injury, disease, pain, and death. If that were the case, plenty of people would sign right on up, just for the insurance benefits. No, it can’t be that. But I don’t know the answers to those questions either. Judging from history and from how many people have agonized and cried out for relief, I guess I never will.
I’m remembering a woman who spoke at church a few weeks ago. Her home had been robbed that week, and almost everything she owned was taken. But she said, “I’ve had to start over so many times before. I guess it’s just time for my five-year start-over. I’m no better than anyone else. There’s no reason this shouldn’t happen to me. It happens to people every day. Why NOT me?”
I want to hold on to what she said, to find strength in her words, to remember that terrible things are happening every day to people all over the world. I know that asking things from you, God, is just a small part of what it means to commune with you. But when a tragedy hits, it suddenly seems so big. It takes over everything. I don’t want easy answers. There aren’t any. I don’t want pious band-aids or thoughtless religious explanations. I don’t want to hear about heaven, as though our present suffering doesn’t count. All I want to know is, how does a person keep sane in the midst of all the hurt? How does one hold on?
God, there are nights when I just want to cry. Tonight is one of those times. For this young mother, for old people who are afraid and alone, for children with cancer, for teenagers paralyzed in car accidents, for people who come home to empty houses, for hope that is gone.
God, it hurts down here. Don’t forget us.