Reading the Word
My soul is poured out within me;
Days of affliction have seized me.
At night it pierces my bones within me.
And my gnawing pains take no rest. . . .
I cry out to Thee for help, but Thou dost not answer me.
Reflecting on the Word
I cannot fit it all together by saying, “He did it,” but neither can I do so by saying, “There was nothing he could do about it.” I cannot fit it all together. I can only, with Job, endure. I do not know why God did not prevent Eric’s death. To live without answers is precarious. It’s hard to keep one’s footing.
Job’s friends tried out on him their answer. “God did it, Job; he was the agent of your children’s death. He did it because of some wickedness in you; he did it to punish you. Nothing indeed in your public life would seem to merit such retribution; it must then be something in your private life. Tell us what it is, Job. Confess.”
The writer of Job refuses to say that God views the lives and deaths of children as cat-o-nine-tails with which to lacerate parents.
I have no explanation. I can do nothing else than endure in the face of this deepest and most painful of mysteries. I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and resurrecter of Jesus Christ. I also believe that my son’s life was cut off in its prime. I cannot fit these pieces together. I am at a loss. I have read the theodicies produced to justify the ways of God to man. I find them unconvincing. To the most agonized question I have ever asked I do not know the answer. I do not know why God would watch him fall. I do not know why God would watch me wounded. I cannot even guess.
C. S. Lewis, writing about the death of his wife, was plainly angry with God. He, Lewis, deserved something better than to be treated so shabbily. I am not angry but baffled and hurt. My wound is an unanswered question. The wounds of all humanity are an unanswered question.
Lament for a Son
Responding to the Word
He was so young, God. So young and strong and filled with promise. So vital, so radiant, giving so much joy wherever he went. He was also brilliant. On this one boy you lavished so many talents that could have enriched your world. He had already received so many honors, and there were so many honors to come.
In our agony we ask.
Who am I, God?