Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it. Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
A young child gets cancer and dies. Her family blames God because they’ve always been told everything happens for a reason. Whatever reason there is, it doesn’t seem worth it. Only a few months later they decide this is not a God they wanted to worship. A friend has a miscarriage at 7 months. Everyone offers their platitudes, “God must have wanted that baby more than you.” The couple begins to question why God couldn’t have left the baby alone just a little bit longer. They stop showing up to Sunday Eucharist. A friend is murdered in the safety of her own home. Christian friends remind the parents that she is in a better place, that her time must have been up, that God must have had a reason he wanted her in heaven. Instead of the family blaming the murderer, they start to blame God instead.
I’ve heard and seen the stories in friends’ lives over and over and over again. Christians love to try to comfort others, but in doing so, sometimes we oversimplify complicated matters and offer explanations that aren’t always theologically accurate or even that comforting. Our first reading this Sunday offers a response for when we are asking the age old question, “Why does God allow evil to happen?”
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. I believe wholeheartedly that God weeps with us in our loss. There IS darkness in this world and it affects us each day as we see death enter into a world that should be full of light and life. God did not bring this death, but he stands beside us and grieves with us as we encounter death in us and in those around us. I don’t believe that every negative act happens for a reason, for some sort of ultimate good. Sometimes this may be the case. But sometimes bad things happen because people choose darkness, sometimes our entire human race chooses darkness, and even sometimes we, ourselves, choose darkness. But I do believe that God CAN bring good out of every dark act, all the evil that surrounds us, every moment of sadness and season of grief.
If, instead of blaming God and turning away from Him, we choose to turn to God and rest on Him, believing that He did not want evil to happen, that he didn’t choose darkness or death to enter this world, then we can allow Him to turn our darkness into light. He can use us to spread His message of redemption to others. He can use the darkness we’ve encountered to show others what His light looks like when we are in a season of severe pain and grief.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus heals a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years and raises a girl from death to life. He longs to heal us and give us new life out of the death and darkness that surround us. He cares deeply for us. Why some people are healed and some, like the hemorrhaging woman, must suffer for years, we’ll never know. But we will know that God did not choose death to enter in this world. He is not a malicious or spiteful God. He is a God who grieves with us, who stands beside us in our sadness, who longs to bring good out of the darkness we’ve encountered, who will, in the end, bring new life out of all of our death.