Untimely Death Can Test Our Faith

“He died this morning.” I had just sat down this morning to email my dear friend whose son entered Hospice a couple days ago, and there was the sad message. Jan (not her real name) has been through so much, she doesn’t deserve this, too. She has buried her husband, must now bury her son, has another grown child afflicted with mental issues, and has had her own bout with cancer. Through it all, she has remained courageous, doing whatever was possible. But how does anyone manage this? Jan’s strong faith has guided her to this point, but might that faith now be tested?

When my own infant son died, I lost my faith for several years. It just didn’t seem right to carry a baby full term and have him die after one day. We all hear “Life isn’t fair” and know it’s true. It can sound so flippant, though, and is more easily applied to others’ situations than our own. I still struggle with the concept of a loving God, an all-powerful God who “lets” terrible things happen. My own reasoning with that impossible concept is that God gave us the world and the abilities to live within it; that He’s a “hands off” God who will back us up, is always available to lean on, and assures us that we are strong enough to cope with whatever crisis comes our way. That’s the best I can do, not being a philosopher. It helps.

As well as I know Jan (we’ve been friends for decades), I can’t even guess how she will deal with this. Will she cave? Get sick from the stress? Withdraw? Reach out to family and friends? Find strength in her faith again, or lose it, at least temporarily? We cannot know how we will cope until we must, but an untimely death can test our faith.

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