This was one of those weeks here.
One of those weeks where the parent of a teenager dies, and my daughter helps to hold that friend up, while grieving and tears and sadness swirl around them all.
It’s happened before.
The first time, the father of one of her friends was killed in a car accident. A couple of weeks later, a guy lost his mother to brain cancer. Another time, a girl in her class watched her kid sister die of brain cancer. A few weeks ago, a young man whose father committed suicide a few years back decided to take his own life. This week, the dad died of a heart attack.
These are the times when people ask God, “Why? Why is this happening?” And these are the times when, sometimes, God’s answer is so unclear.
Why do we suffer? Why do kids who haven’t even graduated from high school lose their parents? Why do these tragedies happen?
From my perspective, as I watch these teenagers go through some of the most difficult moments that they will face in their lives, I have become profoundly aware that these experiences are changing them.
The night of the viewing, a close-knit group of Katie’s friends stood in line for over two hours. As adults, we all know how this can be. People talking in hushed tones around us. As we get closer to the casket, the raw emotion of the family who has lost someone. The awkwardness of not knowing what to say, even though we have all been on the receiving end before.
The day of the funeral, my daughter waited for the mass to start in a pew next to the girl whose father died in a car accident. I’m sure that thoughts of that funeral 12 months ago were forefront in their minds. When the opening song began to play, it was the same song they had heard a year ago, “Be Not Afraid.”
These are moments that change us. These are moments that, like it or not, make us holy men and women. Or teenagers, as is the case for my daughter, many times over, these past couple of years.
These are moments where our faith can be strengthened or lost. Our understanding of suffering can be profound. Our human bonds are transformed. Our commitment to those relationships that have changed because of death are magnified. Our hope in resurrection can be questioned, and then, in the end, sustained.
And though we may not ever truly understand why, in our deepest souls. we come to know, through these holy experiences, that God is good.
This Holy Week, I pray for all those touched by deaths that don’t seem to make any sense. That the grieving in our midst know God’s grace. And that they hope in the resurrection that is to come.
I invite you to do the same.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and calamities;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10