Just before we moved, I heard Michael Walsh on Hugh Hewitt's show. Mr. Walsh, an author, apparently had a 22 year old daughter who died unexpectedly at the end of 2011. He had many interesting and insightful things to say about death and grieving, and I thought I'd share some of what he said here.
(Disclaimer: I was listening to the radio, not reading a transcript, so I might possibly misrepresent Mr. Walsh's words or meaning, though I'll certainly try not to. I couldn't find anything that he had written on the subject. Although that makes sense in light of the fact that he mentioned that he had been fairly private about it up to this point, it also means that I have to rely on my memory of what he said.)
First, he started by talking about the fact that death is a part of life. This is, of course, obvious, but when death claims someone we love, it's hard to view it as a natural part of the cycle of living on this earth. Instead, we feel wronged- robbed of something that was dear.
Then, he reflected on how much we want to believe that everything happens for a purpose. Telling ourselves this can seem helpful during small crises- lost job, temporary illness, interrupted plans- but when it comes to something as final and crushing as death, trying to make sense of it is really beyond our ability. Mr. Walsh insisted that everything doesn't happen for a purpose. Some things just happen because that's just the way the world is. I heartily agree with him on that point. Trying to figure out why something awful happened can become a fruitless and unending endeavor. The world is fallen. It will be set right one day, but for now, it is what it is. Death, sadness, and suffering happen.
The thing Mr. Walsh said, though, that made me think most deeply was this: God doesn't care like we care. He said God is so big and has such a cosmic, eternal perspective, that He views our problems as petty and very small. Here, I believe, my view is different than his, though not perhaps as different as it would have been before my present trial.
I have come to see that God's perspective is vastly different than our own. And it certainly is true that because He exists in eternity, He sees things in an entirely alternate light. We see ourselves and our lives as occupying the very center of the universe. God knows better. In the eternal scheme of God's grand plan, man is but a breath.
But that doesn't mean that He doesn't care about our struggles and emotions. He allowed Himself, in the form of His Son, to put on humanness. He experienced what we experience. He was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." (Isaiah 53:3) When He lost His friend Lazarus and saw everyone crying, He wept. He could have said, knowing the glorious miracle He was planning, "Quit crying. It's all going to work out in the end." But He didn't. He knew humans exist in the present, and He cried for their pain.
It's a glorious thing to have a high priest who can sympathize with our weakness. (Hebrews 4:15) That doesn't mean He does what we want Him to. That doesn't mean He makes sure we're always happy. But He does care. God is not too big to care about our petty problems, He is so big that He both works in eternity and tenderly weeps for our grief.