I recently did the ashes burial at a cemetery for a young man who was killed in a car accident two years ago (they were waiting for family from out East to be able to make it). Not knowing any of the details, besides it was a burial, I agreed. If that sounds like a mistake, you’d be correct. When I asked for information, I was sent video links to news reports. That was strange. Why would there be news reports? Is this person famous? Nope. He made the news because of how terrible the situation of his death was. When I put on the first video, I was in a room full of people and out loud I yelled “Oh fiddlesticks!” At least that’s what I’ll say I said. I was like “Seriously? I’ve done three funerals and they were for 90 year old grandmothers typically with dementia because those weren’t so sad. This? This is the worst possible scenario!” When this man was killed, he was thirty-three years old and a father of three young girls with his wife expecting a fourth, so it was about as terrible as it gets. When I was asked to do the ceremony, it was by a bride I had officiated for three years ago and she said I was the right choice because they wanted light and fun; that’s right, “light and fun.” I generally avoid funerals because I prefer joy and laughter, and funerals… well, they tend to not be so joyful… unless, of course, the person who died was a jerk and everyone is glad they’re finally gone. This man who died was very much loved because he was a good person. Fortunately, it all worked out… somehow, but it was all very weird. For instance, the burial was three tombstones over from my own dad’s plot, and beside his, I discovered was a childhood friend’s dad’s plot. Plus, at the ceremony were about thirty people with most of them being small children. Luckily what I had prepared worked well (at least for the adults) and any of my own emotions were kept at bay.
During the funeral I brought up a common misperception. Unlike many people, I don’t believe things happen for a reason. Why? Because they don’t. Good can come out of all situations, but sometimes bad things are just bad like this situation. I remember being at my dad’s funeral and a few very well-intentioned people came up to me and said, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “Sometimes God’s plan is hard to understand,” and everyone who said these things was someone I wanted to punch in the face. Arguably, this was the one time I could get away with it, but I didn’t want to risk it. For me, especially in this situation, I found these words very hurtful. Everything happens for a reason? What kind of a God would look at the world and be like “You know what I want to see? People suffer, so I will kill you and you and you, and leave the rest of you to suffer the loss.” This is stupid to me. God is said to be a God of love, and that’s not love. I wouldn’t want to see people suffer (even if good can came out of it) and I’m only kind of a loving person. So how can we think a loving God would do that? When I read the Bible I see a God who is emotional and in the moment. He is happy when things are going well. He gets angry when people are mean and hurt each other. It’s even said that Jesus cried when he was told his friend died. God lives in the moment in order to connect with us on a deeper level. He sees the tragedies we face and He is heartbroken for us just like a real loving parent would be. Where was God after this father of four died? While the family were crying, He was there crying with them. He didn’t want this man to die. There isn’t a “bigger” reason for it. Death is death. Our world includes pain and there’s no escaping it. For instance, if I put my hand in a fire, it’ll get burned, but that same fire will also cook food. The same heat can be used for good and bad, which means for everything good in our world there is a risk and every risk can bring tragedy just like driving in a car.
All this being said, God has made people strong enough to endure the pain and tragedies of this life. The surviving family are living proof God has made humanity with incredible resilience and ability to carry on. They are proof that no matter what happens, people have the strength, people have the courage, people have the love to continue living… if they choose.
God doesn’t want bad things to happen, but He made us with the potential to be able to handle all that we face, and we have all the more potential when we look to Him for added support. We are not made weak and feeble, but we can choose to be (this goes against God’s plan for us) or we can choose to see how capable we really are and how much more capable we can be when we include God in our lives. God wants us to be empowered and he wants to have a relationship with us.
This week may you see how strong you really are.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people