On Christmas Day, a friend of mine watched his wife pass away from leukemia. She left behind two young girls.
My heart breaks for him and his children.
I have faith. I trust God. I believe he loves us. I want to help my friend understand that. But I have nothing to offer him. I don’t any acceptable answers to his deepest questions, to assuage his bitterness or ease his loneliness. All I’ve done is listen to his pain, overwhelmed with helplessness.
This isn’t my first experience of tragedy. It’s simply the latest. I’ve held my stillborn niece, kissed her tender forehead. We’ve experienced the pain of losing a pregnancy.
I don’t mean to compare tragedies. Many have suffered much, much more than I.
I wonder what is reasonable to expect from God in suffering. Despite our best wishes and fervent prayers, we’ve all suffered. For some reason God hasn’t eliminated suffering from this world. I’ve studied theology. I have a Master’s degree in it. I understand many of the theological rationales that attempt to make that fact somewhat more palatable. I just don’t believe any have succeeded.
Perhaps God hasn’t taken away our suffering in this life, but he has made us a promise. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5) I can’t help but wonder if it’s enough to know that for whatever reason we may suffer, we also know we never have to suffer thought it alone. I wonder if that can be enough for my friend and his little girls.
I don’t know. I don’t know much. And the older I get the more I realize how little I know.