Saturday, August 8, 2015

Unanswerable Questions

A friend called me a few days ago to tell me that she lost a dear friend--a 40-something mother of young twin boys--to cancer. In her grief, my friend asked that unanswerable question: "Why?"

Why would a young mother die suddenly? Why did she have cancer in the first place? What possible good can come of out this?

My friend wanted words of wisdom. I don't know how wise they are, but this is what I've learned about grief and loss and the unfairness of life.

Sometimes, things don't make sense and never will. We don't understand. Cells grow out of control or a drunk gets behind the wheel or a heart stops or a foot slips or someone drowns or tectonic plates move or a person takes his or her own life. We want to explain these things away, comfort ourselves with cause, blame, anger. But really, sometimes, things just don't make sense. And they never will.

God doesn't make people sick or kill babies or young mothers or fathers or thousands of people in a terrorist attack or tsunami or concentration camp. God does not do these things. At least, this is what I believe as a good Methodist. Some Christians believe differently.

God does, however, welcome His children home when tragic things happen, and He provides ways for those left behind to turn tragedy into something good. A woman whose 16-year-old daughter died in a car accident opened a half-way house for teenage girls because God wanted her to take all that love for her daughter and help girls in need. I've written before how we see God every time a first responder rushes toward tragedy rather than away from it. God is there in the doctors' hands and nurses' kindness. He's there, even in the worst situations, trying to move us to do good.

I also know that this sucks for us. It takes time to heal and time to see good again. We need to give ourselves that time, to be kind and gentle with ourselves as we grieve, and we need to find people, or even one single person, who will listen to us as we work through our grief at our own pace and in our own time. If we don't find healing, we sink in bitterness. Tragedy--not God--wins.

That's what I know. It's not much, or even enough, but I cling to it as I cling to God.

It's just enough to get me through, and I sure hope it helps you, too.

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