Sometime back, I met with some other people from churches who do hospital visiting. People were talking about what they do, what they’ve learned. I suggested that we learn to say, “I don’t know.”
“Why is this happening to me? What’s going to happen?”
“I don’t know. “
Because often, we jump to conclusions. We say, “Oh, it’s happening because God wants another angel in heaven. It’s happening because you need to learn patience. It’s happening because you can handle it.”
In the moment of pain and grief, those aren’t helpful answers.
In those moments, “I don’t know all of why, but I know that it hurts” may be the most helpful thing to say.
But the truth is, although I don’t know what’s happening in your specific situation, I do know what happens in situations like the ones we face. In the texts we read this morning we can find some clarity and hope.
But before we move to those texts, I want to offer something to think about some of the things in our lives.
Many years ago, I walked out of our house and kicked a concrete slab in our back yard.
Fortunately, I hit it with the ball of my foot rather than with my toe. I say fortunately because if I had use my toe, I would have broken it. As it was, I had a large lump on the bottom of my foot for several days. A reminder of my anger.
I sort of remember why I was angry, more at a situation than any one person. But I think I can still feel the pain sometimes when I walk.
Sometimes when we are in the middle of a painful situation, if we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that our foot hurts because we kicked the concrete. We made the dozen wrong choices that got us here. We are exhausted because we don’t go to bed. We are broke because we spend all our money on what doesn’t satisfy. We are distracted because we keep looking at our phones.
So sometimes when someone says, “Why did this happen to me?” I want to say, “Because you kicked the slab.”
But other times, the answer is more complicated.
From a hospital chapel talk on John 17:1-11 and 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-1.