Wars have resulted in the killing, maiming, torture and rape of millions of people in the course of human history. Car accidents routinely turn warm, loving parents into grieving, bitter individuals. Heart disease and cancer take our closest friends and family before any of us are ready. But in many of these cases we can find someone or something to blame: An evil dictator; a drunk driver; a genetic predisposition.
But who do you blame for a miscarriage or the death of a newborn? The people I know personally who have experienced this loss (including my wife and I) did everything by the book: Routine doctors’ visits, proper diet and exercise, healthy sleep patterns, etc. Yet somehow, somewhere, something broke down. Nihilists might call it bad luck; scientists might call it…well…science. Regardless of what you call it, the cold hard fact is that though people do everything they are supposed to do as parents-to-be, the child they looked forward to is dead. Some name a daughter they never get to meet. Others imagine throwing a football with a son but never get to see his hands or hold his fingers, or to let him hold theirs.
And there is no-one to blame; no dictator or reckless driver. You are left alone with the empty loss of the child you never knew and the awkward comments of those who’ve never suffered that kind of loss: “It must have been God’s will.”
When I hear the pain in an almost- or former-parent’s voice, I want to blow something up. I want to watch the world burn. I want to take the heartlessly ignorant fools who preach religious clichés and hit them over and over until they are a bloody, unconscious mess and my hands are ruined, bones exposed at every knuckle.
But as much as I hate to admit it, the heartlessly ignorant fools are right. Not their meaningless platitudes (for those comments surely earn you God’s own wrath), but rather that your child’s death, our children’s deaths, must have been God’s will.
Before I even finished typing that last sentence I heard a chorus of heartlessly ignorant fools arguing passionately that we live in a fallen world corrupted by sin, the taint of which has burst into every crevice and which destroys every good thing: “God doesn’t intend for people to suffer, that’s just the way sin has destroyed the world.” To which I respond, “Perhaps, but there was a time when a man named Jesus walked the earth and He healed the blind and the lame…hell, he even raised a guy from the dead!”
God has clearly demonstrated both his ability and his willingness to counteract the taint of sin in real-time…which logically infers that it was His will for two of our children to miscarry and for several of our friends to lose children to disease and sudden illness.
So after you beat the heartless fools bloody and you are subsequently forced to apologize because, callousness aside, they are right, where do you go with your rage and your grief? The only thing I can figure is that you go back to the One who willed it to occur: You go to God.
I think this suggestion scares many of us because we are afraid of telling a holy God what we think of His plan for fear of being punished. If I talked to my earthly father the way I sometimes want to talk to God, he’d probably knock my teeth loose…imagine what God might do! But God already knows exactly what’s running through my head and my heart; He’s seen it and heard it billions of times before. He’s not insecure and He isn’t threatened by my anger.
I imagine that some of you are suffering today, struggling with rage and grief. Maybe you went through a similar loss in the past but didn’t allow yourself to grieve because you were afraid of how God would react. If that’s you, I’m giving you permission right now to let go and let God have it! I want you to have a moment like Mel Gibson in Signs, or “Captain Dan” in Forrest Gump. Some of you may not need to have the moment; giving yourself permission to fly off the handle at God will be enough to free something up inside you.
For the rest of you that need to have that “come to Jesus” moment, allow me to lead by example:
Father, I just got done reading about a pastor who, despite his best efforts, lost his job, his home, his life savings, his marriage, and two of his children. What the fuck is that about? I can accept the loss of his home, his money, and even his marriage, but what did his kids ever do? You destroyed these people. You let their children die. How can this be Your will?
You let two of my own children die before they were even born; they never even had a chance at life! I’m so angry right now I want to destroy something just to show you how much you hurt me. If I did something wrong take your punishment out on me, but don’t punish my kids. How am I supposed to surrender to Your will when Your will involves the death of innocent children?
But surrender I must, for my only other choice is to be consumed by my rage and my grief.