Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Faith, Strength and Courage

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Never try to explain God's thinking.

We're going through a real tragedy in our family, a family member who has terminal brain cancer.

Our inclination is always to ask, "Why?", but, at least for me (where I am right now), that is the wrong question. The question is, "How?" How should I respond? What should I do to help, support, and hold up the one I love? Or when it comes my time to die and if I have the choice, how should I go about my dying?

Not everyone has that choice. Some die suddenly and unexpectedly.

In this case, there is support. Sunday School class members come at noon to help with the noon meal. Family members gather around and cry together. All kinds of friends, including picking buddies, come and just play music right there in the nursing home room. Medical friends do their best to see that the truth is told in love.

None of this takes away the depression we all feel. And none of this takes away our tendency to ask, "Why?" But human suffering is a part of life. The Buddhists have that exactly right. The question life asks us is, "How will we respond?" The Buddhists have that right too.

When I was talking to someone I could trust to say this to (mostly my wife), I always used to say, "God is God and God will do what God will do." I didn't mean that God causes or allows suffering. I can't visualize a God who causes or allows suffering. Suffering comes about because of the nature of the world.

When I said, "God is God and God will do what God will do," that was my way of saying we don't have any way to comprehend the incomprehensible. Finally, those of us who try to run our lives according to some kind of faith, just have to trust in God's eternal goodness. There's nothing else to do.

So that's what we are doing. We are different people with different kinds of faith, but in our own ways, we are trusting . . . and hoping . . ., not for a miracle but for the courage to do what each of us is called to do.

Dale Evans (who grieved the deaths of three children) used to say something like, "It's how you ride the trail that really matters." No matter what life deals us, may we ride the trail, each with his or her own unique brand of faith, strength and courage.

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