Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Death and Love April 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 6:47 pm

My friend’s housekeeper’s son died last night of malaria. He was four years old. She has already lost a daughter, and her husband died a few months ago. She has no other children.

When my friend finished explaining this to me, he said, “And God allows this. Our loving God.” I asked him if he doubted that God is loving. He said, “I think maybe I need to question my definition of love.”

What is my definition of love? (Or goodness or justice?) How do you comfort a widow who has lost both of her only children? What is her understanding of love, of God’s love?

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4 Responses to “Death and Love”

  1. Augustus Says:

    My definition of love – faithfulness.

    I don’t think there is an objective answer as to how you comfort someone in such a difficult situation, or if comfort is even a present possibility. It seems to me, though, that our faithfulness to her as a neighbor involves being preset, listening, and praying for her.

    I have a four year old daughter and shutter to think what it would be like to lose her presence in my life. But in times of trial, let’s remind ourselves that God is faithful to His promises to us. Redemptive history tells us this with certainty. Let us all take comfort in the promises of God. God’s faithfulness allows us to know that He too is present (Spirit), listening (Father), and praying for us (Jesus). The pain is real, but isn’t it comforting and awe-inspiring to know that God, the Lord of all creation, weeps for us and with us. The question of “Why?” still remains, but we can find rest even when we’re not privy to the answer because we know that God is trustworthy.

  2. John Hubers Says:

    I think your friend’s response is the most profound. Our definition of love needs re-working.

    It’s helpful to remember that those who first said: “God is love” did so in the context of a pre-scientific culture where the same kind of suffering you are witnessing in Moz. was a daily occurrence. Perhaps this is one reason why the God who is love allowed his Son to suffer an excruciatingly painful death, to become, as it were, one of the suffering innocents himself. His love is expressed less in taking away our pain than it is in sharing it. (reference – Henri Nouwen’s book, Compassion).

  3. John Hubers Says:

    (follow up) In terms of how to offer comfort, Henri Nouwen rightfully offers this model as our model – to simply be “with” people, sharing their sorrows more than trying to take them away. “Bear one another’s burdens. . . ” That’s always the model I’ve tried to follow in my pastoral care with those who are in grief. A prayerful presence.

  4. Beyond divine attributes, do we mean the same thing when we use the word “God”? I bet there are family resemblances, at best.
    In case you are interested, I’ve just posted on this question at http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/what-does-god-mean/


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