A few days ago my wife posted on Facebook about the timing of bad stuff. A few bad things had happened to us recently, but they happened at a “good” time rather than a bad time. One thing was our water heater going out. We were able to get it replaced the next day, and only had to go without hot water for a single morning. I got a tepid shower that morning (First World problems indeed), but that was the only real annoyance other than the expense. Better at the end of July, at the height of summer, than mid January during a freeze.
It’s an annoying expense regardless of the time of year. But the water heater was due to be replaced anyway. It could easily have happened at a worse time. And it’s just a thing. Things can be fixed or replaced.
People are not fixed so easily. People also can’t be replaced. Jobs can be replaced. Roles can be replaced. But people cannot, especially someone close to us. The death of a loved one, even when expected at the end of a long life, is always a trial. It’s even more of a trial when it’s sudden and at a young age.
A friend at my church just lost a son in a tragic accident. No parent should have to bury their child; it’s supposed to be the other way around. He wasn’t even 40. Now he’s entrusted to the mercy of God.
Having to replace a water heater doesn’t seem like much compared to that.
I can’t imagine facing a struggle like the death of a child without having God in my life. How can anyone carry the weight of that burden with only human strength? How can anyone cope with the pain, the anger, the helpless feeling of loss, with only their own power?
I spent a large portion of my life without a relationship with God. It was a struggle. I was never adequate. Nothing I did was good enough in the long run. No matter how well I was doing at any given moment, it would all be swept away eventually by either some unexpected event or by my own stupidity.
That hasn’t changed since my return to the Church. What has changed, however, is my realization that no matter how dark things get, no matter how much I struggle, God is always there with me. That relationship with God endures because God himself endures. The things of the world that we think are so important, even the earth itself, will, as the final verse of Amazing Grace states, dissolve like snow.
Knowing that God will never dissolve and pass away, that God will always love me, that God will always answer my prayers (albeit usually in a way other than what I would expect), is a great comfort.
I do my part to help those who suffer in whatever way I can. Right now I do so by praying for my friend and for the repose of his son’s soul.