A dozen or so years ago, I showed up for Sunday morning worship services like a good preacher’s wife. People were filing in, finding their seats, hugging friends and getting ready for the service to begin.
As I settled in my seat I noticed a woman to my left, crying. Her eyes were puffy and her nose was red, like she’d been crying for quite some time.
“Oh, my. Are you okay?” I asked, which of course, I knew she wasn’t.
She mopped herself up and proceeded to tell me the story of her weekend.
An eighteen month old toddler had nearly drown in their neighborhood swimming pool. Thankfully, a quick thinking adult performed mouth-to-mouth and saved the child’s life. But in the chaos, her three-year-old brother tumbled into the water at the other end of the pool. It wasn’t until the panic finally subsided and the crowd dispersed that his little body was found lifeless.
One child was lost in the mayhem of saving another.
As the woman finished her story, I swallowed hard and held her hand in an attempt to mollify a pain that would not be comforted. Then she looked up at me, eyes pleading, and asked, “Why? Why did this happen?”
I slowly shook my head. But before I could part my lips to speak, she asked another question, “Do you think God allowed this to happen to remind us all of how dangerous the water is?”
This was the logic she’d been reduced to. Like groping in the dark, I could see on her face the desperation to find something, anything at all, to hold onto to keep her faith intact. But in fact, Her God had not shown up at the pool that weekend. And no amount of reasoning, not even the ludicrous, was going to make the events make sense.
If God was real, He’d made his choice. Now there were meals to deliver, a funeral to attend and a casket to cover in dirt.
My husband preached his message on the goodness and faithfulness of God that morning as I sat distracted by life’s cruelty. As the service came to a close, I found myself silently demanding answers. “Where were you?!” I prayed, squeezing my eyes tight, choking back tears.
The music started as the choir began to sing our dismissal song, Our God Is An Awesome God.
I did not join in.