The news goes out over Facebook, over phone lines, over prayer chains and everyone shows up.
Crowds in the kitchen, in the living room, spilling onto the lawn.
It’s what you do.
And it’s actually the easiest part. Lots of people, lots of talking, lots of activity keep the atmosphere focused on the deceased and the family. The conversation rarely dips to deeper waters or digs into harder ground: “Where was God?”; “Why him?”; “Why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people?”
But eventually the busyness and noise gives way to stillness and silence.
That’s when the harder part starts.
The long hours of nightime darkness that invite questions that demand answers. The quiet hours of daylight that insist on playing a home movie of the years that went before. Forcing me to wrestle. Tossing me in the ring of trying to reconcile this tragedy with my worldview.
And many people turn away from the spectacle.
Even good, loving, Christ-following friends find it hard to stick around and watch.
Because it challenges their worldview too.
It makes them wonder if what they have always believed about God is true. It makes them fearful that if it could happen to my son and to me, it could happen to their child and to them. Ir raises questions, they’d rather not answer.
And they don’t have to answer them-YET-because their lives haven’t been turned upside down and inside out.
So they run.
They stop calling, they stop coming and they keep their distance in public spaces.
It’s human nature to avoid pain. No one marches headlong into suffering. Empathy requres energy. Compassion demands opening your heart to the hurt hiding inside someone else’s.
I understand, truly I do.
If I could find a place where sorrow and longing couldn’t find me, I would stay there forever. But I can’t. I have to carry this load, I have to face the tough questions, I have to work hard to give my heart a chance.
It is so much easier when others come alongside. I feel so much stronger when others choose to call courage to my broken heart. I find great comfort in knowing that someone is willing to risk their own comfort to bear witness to my pain and struggle.
Please don’t lower your eyes and hide. Raise them and help heal.
I know it’s hard and you don’t have to, but please don’t turn away.