It seems like this year has been a year of deaths for people around me. I’ve experienced several myself, and many others that I know have as well. There seem to be many more than usual. I know that’s not really the case. It’s just a fact of life and this is what we all experience at different times and different circumstances.
Most of my friends (including me) have lost one parent. Some have lost both. Many friends have lost siblings, some have lost children, and others, dear friends. Many people I know have had tragic circumstances that I can’t imagine.
Our pastor said something this weekend that continues to resonate with me. He spoke at two funerals this past week. One for a 65+ year old and one for a 16 year old that had taken his own life. His words are so simple, yet profound.
Death never feels right.
I think we often figure that the death of an older person will feel differently than the death of a younger person. But, I agree with what he said. Regardless of the age or the circumstances, it just never feels right. Especially to those who loved that person.
When my Stepfather passed away earlier this year, I was expecting the process to be easier than what I’d experienced in the past. He was 93! He had lived an amazing life. It should have been easier, right? Well, it wasn’t. It just doesn’t feel good to lose someone you love. And in that case, helping my Mom sort through everything and start over was in many ways much harder than the first time she became a widow.
The other thing my Pastor said this weekend is so beautiful. He had said something similar to me during the time when my Stepfather passed and a dear friend lost her battle with cancer.
When people around us are hurting and going through loss, we feel like they expect us to say something profound. Like we should be able to give them a few words that are going to make all of the hurt go away.
Isn’t that crazy?
We know it’s not possible, but we feel the pressure to do it. In most situations, people just want to know that we care and that we are praying for them, and that we are there to help when needed. They just want us to sit and mourn with them.
In response to this, he offered this beautiful picture of comfort. I’m paraphrasing, but it went something like this.
Instead of telling you about a God who wraps tragedy in a tidy little box with no room for questions, I want to invite you to sit with a God who mourns with you.
This is based off of the story of Lazarus in John 11, specifically verse 35, “Jesus wept.” It is absolutely beautiful.
I have experienced death, starting from a young age. I can tell you that had I understood this better then, I know it would have given me great comfort. It certainly did this past year during the losses I experienced.
It goes along with so many things I’ve realized about my faith and my relationship with God.
We don’t have to have it all figured out.
In fact, I don’t think we were ever meant to figure everything out. Sometimes, there are no words to explain why something so tragic happened. We will probably never understand it. And, trying to wrap everything into tidy boxes only leads people to frustration and anger. But, allowing ourselves to be true to the pain and sorrow that we feel, and wrapping ourselves in the arms of Jesus who mourns with us, is something that brings great comfort.
To listen to Scott’s message from this weekend (The Art of Advent), you can go here. It should be posted shortly.