It seems once again I have been confronted with the inevitability of our humanity. Life long friends have been diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses. Some have succumbed to the diseases others are soldiering on. At least two families I know have been hit by tragedy, tragedies that have seemingly come out of nowhere, and leave behind a wake of devastation.
Having spent over 30 years as pastor, I am not unacquainted with grief and suffering. Still the impact and pain never cease to impress upon me the how harsh life can be at time.
Since words have been by both temperament and vocation close friends of mine, I am reminded of how futile words can be at certain times. There are no words that can “fix” the hurts. Words have no power to wipe away hurt, grief or devastation. I am not unaware to the power of words to bless or curse. Yet words are not powerful enough to turn death away, or stop disease, or even the dissolution of a marriage. We feel helpless as we come along the side of our suffering family and friends. We want to say or do something that will make everything “all better.” Try as we might with the best of intentions we realize that even our best attempt, the circumstance has not immediately changed.
It is at times like these that we must rely upon God and the power of presence. His this His presence, will be what sustains people during the difficult times of life. At times like this there are some things more powerful than words. Things, like a hug, silence, tears, a note or a card. No matter how much we would like to take the mystery out to life, there will always be situations that do not fit into neat little packages of understanding. We must hand even the mysteries of life over to God.
Thinking back over the dark and difficult times in my life, I have a confession to make. I cannot remember a single thing anyone said to me. I do to this moment remember their kindnesses and care. The actions that spoke louder than words, and I remember those who pushed past the awkwardness of no knowing what to say and just showed up! It was in the showing up, that they demonstrated compassionate caring.
In just a little over two weeks we celebrate Easter. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only answer for the unanswerable events of life. Because He lives, we too shall live. Life is not fair, but God is good and gracious and I can keep moving ahead. Out of the evil of the crucifixion comes an empty tomb. When darkness seems to be in control and winning, I remember a stone that was rolled away and graves clothes without an occupant. Words cannot completely describe all the meaning involved in the Christian confidence in the bodily resurrection. Easter informs us that when friends and family go through tough places, we can find comfort by a God who did not spare His own Son. He will bring us to ultimate victory. He understands what it means to go through things that even talking cannot make better. It takes a cross and an empty tomb