You know what no one wants to talk about. Hate. I know all about hate. It starts in your gut, deep down here, where it stirs and churns. And then it rises. Hate rises fast and volcanic. It erupts hot on the breath. Your eyes go wide with fire. You clench your teeth so hard you think they’ll shatter. I hate you, God. I hate you! Oh, don’t tell me you haven’t said those words before. I know you have. We all have, if you’ve ever felt so crushing a loss.
There are two parents with us today who know that pain, the most terrible hurt of all– losing a child before her time. If Dean and Leanne were to stand up right now and scream those awful words of hate, could we blame them? I couldn’t. At least their hatred I can understand. I can grasp it, but God’s wantonness, his cruelty, I can’t even begin to—
My father dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 43– 43 years old– and when he died, I looked up to God and I said those words, because my father was so young, so full of life, so full of dreams. Why would God take him from us? (Truth be told I never really knew him or what his dreams were. He was quiet, timid, almost invisible. My mother didn’t think much of him. My mother’s mother hated him. The man never scratched the surface of life. Maybe it’s best he died so young. He wasn’t doing much but taking up space. But that doesn’t make for a very powerful eulogy, now, does it?)
I wept. I screamed, “Why, God? How can I not hate you when you steal from me the person I most love and admire in this world? I don’t understand it, and I hate you for it. ” The Bible says in proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Lean not on your own understanding. God is telling us to trust him, to love him despite our own ignorance. After all, what is faith if it doesn’t endure when we are tested the most?
We will never understand why God took Jessica or my father or anyone. And while God may not give us any answers, he has given us the capacity for love. Our job is to love him without questioning his plan. So I pray to you, dear Lord, I pray to you to help strengthen our love for you and to embrace Dean and Leanne with the warmth of your love in return. And I pray that you will help us fend off hatred so that we may all truly trust in you with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. – Amen. – Amen.
I asked the reverend once, “What are we supposed to do in the face of so much senseless pain?” And he said to me, “What else can we do but take what seems meaningless and try to make something meaningful from it.” That’s how God works– through us.