Last week’s post talked about wounds and how they can help us to grow, and lead us to a closer relationship with God. Recently, I’ve come to experience this in a much more significant way. Today, February 11th, marks three weeks since one of my best friends was killed in an act of senseless violence. There are no words that can help make sense when something like that happens. In the weeks since his death, I have struggled to understand. The usual questions come to mind: Why did this happen? Why to someone so young, with so much life in front of him? At the end of the day, all I’m left with is one word: why. I’ve spent countless hours in prayer, trying to understand, trying to figure out the why.
When we lose a loved one, asking why is a common reaction. Oftentimes, the why can be seen easily. Death can be the end of a long journey, a welcome end to suffering, the culmination of a life well lived. I have experienced this type of loss before, but now, experiencing death in a completely different way, I’m struggling to find the why. When death is sudden, unexpected, and especially when it happens to someone so young, the why is hard. It is now especially that I am learning to accept that this life is so much bigger than me, than all of us. I remember all the joy and love my friend brought to all of us who were blessed to know him. A few nights after he died, I had a fortune cookie, which contained the following fortune:
“It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years that count”
Now, I am not one to take advice from Chinese fortune cookies, but on that night, at that time, that piece of paper was the reminder I needed. Pain and sorrow and evil are all inevitabilities that come from God’s gift of free will. God does not want evil in the world, but rather He permits it because He gave us free will. I know that my friend led an amazing life, and lived it to the fullest. He was a friend, a brother, a son, a cousin, and so much more. He would have been an incredible husband, father, and impacted the lives of many others. Although he never made it to that point, because of the actions of another, he did experience so much in his short life.
We ask why, hoping to make sense of the hard things that happen in our lives. Sometimes we get answers but often we don’t. It is in those hard times that we must learn to trust in God. Loss is hard, pain is hard, but there is a comfort in laying all of our pain in front of God, a reminder of Christ’s suffering on the Cross. We all go through difficult times in our life; the important thing to remember is that we are not alone in our suffering.
Rebecca Ruesch is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.