Tonight I got a call from my dad: "Where are you?" I was on my couch. I was supposed to be at the nursing home to play some songs for a gathering. So I got dressed quickly and headed over there. I arrived fifteen minutes late and a little flustered with a half-constructed set list in my head. Other than the fact that I am never able to sing loud enough at nursing homes (I would have never made it as an orator in ancient Greece), it went fine.
At the nursing home was a young man, I'd say in his early twenties, who was severely disabled. He was somewhat attentive, but he could not (or didn't) speak. Afterward, my parents were asking some of the others from their church what had happened to him. No one was sure, but someone thought that it involved a car wreck. My dad said that the young man's mother seemed angry at God when he had spoken to her briefly. That is not an uncommon emotion in such a tragedy. On the way home, I began to think of what I might say to this woman if we ever had an appropriate conversation to talk about what happened to her son. As I write this, I am not claiming to have an answer for what to say in a situation like this. I am simply trying to work through my own thoughts. I think I would hope to say something like this:
"Ma'am, I am very sorry for what happened to your son. I can't imagine what you and your family must be going through. What I can imagine is that you must have lots of questions without answers. I can imagine that there must be a lot of pain and doubt and what-ifs. I can even imagine that you would find yourself with feelings of anger, especially toward God. What happened to your son was a terrible, terrible thing. It doesn't seem fair. Why would God allow it to happen? But maybe anger toward God is a natural thing to experience here. Maybe it is even the right thing to feel in a way. I mean, what causes this anger toward God? Maybe the cause is that deep down you know there is a God. You know there is a God who is supposed to be loving and powerful and just. That is the right thing to believe. But how do we understand this situation in light of a loving and powerful and just God? There doesn't seem to be a satisfying answer. I can't tell you why God would allow this to happen. But I do think that, if anyone, God knows exactly how you feel. His Son suffered, too. Jesus was crushed unjustly, unfairly. The Bible says that He was a Man of sorrows, familiar with suffering and acquainted with grief. The good news is that after He suffered, God restored Him. He was murdered, but God brought Him back to life. God did this because this is exactly what God wants to do for all of us, for the whole world. Just like God raised Jesus, He will one day raise the whole world. He will mend the broken places and put everything right. Ma'am, I don't know why this happened to your son, but I do know that Jesus is his only hope for truly being well again: mind, body, and soul. Jesus is the only hope of wholeness for us all. I know things must be difficult, but please don't give up. Thank you for letting me share. Please just know that my heart is with you in hoping for your son and his recovery."