Confession 44: God is good all the time?

I attended a funeral yesterday for a little boy who was one month older than Garrett. He would have been three the beginning of May. Needless to say, it was a difficult day. Although I have known parents who have lost young children, I have never been witness to the loss itself. Throughout the service I kept looking over at the casket and thinking, they just shouldn’t make them this size.

The service itself was beautiful. The family had put together a slide show of pictures to different songs. Although there were tears throughout the viewing, there were many smiles as well, for who can’t help but smile at a child’s big open-mouthed grin while covered in food, or that mischievous smile while wrestling with a sibling. The mother’s best friend gave a beautiful sermon (although she would probably call it a speech) that was so perfect I thought the service could end right there. She spoke of the beauty of children, the beauty of this child, the miracle of his life and the great impact he had on others in his short time on Earth. She asked everyone in the congregation to consider how their lives had been altered by this child, and then declared that was the purpose of his life.

This little boy touched so many lives, so much so that his surgeon even sent the family an e-mail telling them of his grief in their loss. The hardest part of the day was watching his mother sob throughout the service. Her grief came in waves, and every picture and every story seemed like a punch in her middle causing her to fold her body around the stomach that once held and nurtured this small child. No parent should have to endure such grief.

Experiencing the loss of a child, even one that is not your own, causes a crack in the foundation of the world as you have known it. To bear witness to such pain is a reminder of the broken nature of the world in which we live. It is a reminder that life is fragile and that the world is indeed unjust. I do not believe it is ever God’s plan that a child should suffer and die. I do not believe that a loving and compassionate God, a God who is Creator and Parent of all life would purposefully cause anyone such grief. Yet, I believe that God is present in the suffering. I believe that God has redeemed this child, and that this child is at peace, resting in his Creator’s arms. I also believe that God is grieving with these parents, that God will take their grief as his own. And I believe that God will place his comforting touch upon their lives so that they may move beyond this present agony to a place of peace where they can continue to live until that day when they are able to hold their child once more.

One of the speakers at the service yesterday said that it was not our place to question “why” in such circumstances. But I don’t agree with that. God and I have always had open dialogue, and I believe you can ask him anything. However, asking why might not get you very far. This past week I heard a new song by Steven Curtis Chapman who last year lost his own young daughter in a tragic accident. In this song, he writes about that experience and how it caused him to question everything he believed. In the end, he realized that everything we are and everything we have ultimately belongs to God, and what comes from God will one day return back to God. “It is yours, God, yours…”

In the end, I find I must still believe in the goodness of God. God is faithful, and he will continue to be so. He will provide strength and comfort for this family, and he will take good care of their son. And, if we let him, God can work wonders through this journey. You see, God’s goodness is so great, that he can work good out of any situation. I have seen countless people who have gone through hellacious experiences give themselves over to God and be transformed, working through their grief and pain to be a light for others in need. It is my prayer that God will do the same in the lives of this family, and in the lives of all of us who know them, love them, and grieve with them. Although there is sorrow in the evening, there will be joy and dancing in the morn.

Blessings and Peace,