I recently visited with an old friend who lost her husband in a tragic side-by-side crash. The circumstances around the crash were unbelievably unfortunate in that there were multiple near misses that could have saved O’s life, but for whatever reason, the cards played to his death. Indeed my friend acknowledges that the crash was totally preventable, but there were so many mistakes made all at once that the only outcome would be death. Anything else would have been a bonafide miracle of human survival.
My friend expressed a lot of frustration around how some people in her community have tried to make sense of O’s death by saying that everything happens for a reason. I think in this thin statement about reason, people are actually searching for grace. Even my friend has moments of looking at the situation and trying to desperately come up with a reason. But no reasons are good enough and no reasons bring O back into her life in a living way.
It is a reality of my existence that because of my faith and status within the Church (not real status, just that I went to grad school and preach and know a little about the Bible and some people have deemed me worthy of Reverend…some day) that folks look to me to have some sort of answers in these moments. Why does God do this? Where is God in this? Why would God let this happen? What is the reason? Friends, I don’t have any answers based on any facts. All I have is what brings me comfort.
I believe God has given humans all the tools and resources we need to take care of ourselves and others. The thing is, as humans with free will, we don’t always use those tools and resources. I know in my own life I have actively rejected what I know to be the best use of tools and resources to better my experience of earthly living. There are many reasons we do this, but nonetheless, it’s a reality of human existence to often do things we know are not best for ourselves and others. So when this happens (and God knows it’s going to happen) God places themselves with us and among us. God gives us tools and resources and then when we reject them, God is there sitting right next to us in our trial and grief.
In times of tragedy, I want us to be reminded that God is there, with us, despite any circumstance. This is grace and there is nothing “reasonable” about grace. It comes without judgment or opinion. It comes without barriers or boundaries. It comes in the words of Jesus and in the movement of the Holy Spirit. Grace is God being with us even when we have rejected all that God has given us. And for that, I am comforted beyond reason.
When have felt God’s presence in your life even when everything around you seemed unreasonable?