Yesterday I knelt for a moment, eyeliner in hand, on the white rug of my bathroom floor. I felt overcome with questions in the middle of my morning routine. Mostly the usual questions. Mostly beginning with "why?" "Why do bad things happen to good people?" "Why are families separated by death?" "Why couldn't Jonah stay with me longer?" and "Why would God take the mother of three young children?"
Moments earlier I learned about the death of a young mother; a mother who used to bring her little boy to my art class. Her name was Alice. I did not know her well, but I remember her kindness when Jonah died, and I remember her amazing smile. She was one of those women who seemed genuinely joyful. This beautiful mother recently gave birth to her first daughter, but shortly after her body was overwhelmed by infection. She passed away, leaving behind two little boys, a sweet baby girl, and a heartbroken husband. I have found, since Jonah died, the grief of others brings a new heaviness to my heart. And once again grief brought me to my knees. I asked God to help me understand His purposes.
These "why" questions mingled in my head all day as I thought about Alice. I thought about her as I planted marigolds. She stayed with me as I made dinner. And when I closed the blinds in Jonah's room I thought of her husband putting his children to bed, and returning to his own empty room. I couldn't help but wonder why some prayers for healing are answered, and some seem to drift into a vast and vacant universe. When and how does God choose to intervene?
In the cool of the evening Jordan and I set out on a directionless bike ride. We meandered toward the canyon, through neighborhoods, and past the city park. My questions ruminated with the wheeled motion of my bike and body. As the sun sank, and we turned home, we came upon my lovely neighbor, and had an unexpected but beautiful conversation. She is a woman I admire greatly. Lately her days have been filled with the difficult task of helping her son wade through cancer's final days. He is only 23. We spoke about the beauties of life and the difficulties of death; about the many practical choices and the constant spiritual questions.
As our conversation surpassed the setting sun a scripture came to my mind.
For this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
All of the questions of my day seemed to filter through the words of this simple scripture. My mind felt calm as I suddenly and deeply understood that although we often hope, and wait, and pray for God's intervention, He has already intervened on our behalf. He sent His son to die that we might live again. His most important work is not to prevent death or pain, but to overcome it. I felt peace and hope as I contemplated the meaning and promise of that scripture.
After a few discreet tears and a hug between grieving mothers, Jordan and I peddled home in the dark. As I approached the lights of my home, I noticed my mind felt clear and my heart felt lighter. That lightness stayed with me even though a world of pain seemed so present. The weight of my grief was once again balanced by the simplicity of my faith, and by the gift of God's divine intervention.