I was numb. As I showered, my tears poured out with the water. Both were flowing and wouldn’t stop. My best friend, a beautiful, intelligent, and filled-with-life young woman was dead at the age of 28. It happened by her own hand through an overdose a week after my son was born. It was the highest and lowest time of my life — one that left me with more questions than answers.
This same feeling swept over me last week when I heard that Rev. Scott Hauser had died. I was grief-stricken and filled with questions: “God, why didn’t you intervene? His wife, his family, and his congregation needed him. He was a faithful servant who was dedicated to preaching your Word. What will happen to his four young children? What about his beloved wife, Lara?” These thoughts continue to simmer.
My biggest struggle when tragedies like these occur is that I have somehow convinced myself that life is meant to be good, pain-free, and happy. I’m not sure why I have accepted this as truth. Maybe I’ve watched too many Hallmark movies or seen too many clips of Joel Osteen preaching about the prosperous life. The reality is that the Bible is filled with tragedies and heartache. In fact, the most dedicated followers of Jesus, his disciples, did not enjoy happy endings. John was the only one who escaped alive — only to end up stranded on an island where he would die alone.
And what about Jesus? After being falsely accused and convicted, he carried His cross, was nailed to it, and then died a horrific slow death on it. I’m sure Jesus’ disciples had no idea what they were getting themselves into when He harkened them with the words, “Follow Me.” And honestly, I didn’t either. I guess I skipped over the part where He says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Life is not easy, and often it’s unhappy. In sad times like these, while it’s difficult to find any words of consolation, I hope we can find comfort in God’s promise — that this life is not all there is. Jesus’ story did not end in death on a cross. Christine’s story did not end in an apartment with a bottle of pills. Scott’s story did not end in a hospital on a ventilator. There is life beyond this life — the Bible assures us. And it’s this assurance that helps me endure these difficult times and brings me peace through my questions and confusion.
Ironically, it was Lara, Scott’s wife, who helped me the most through this past week. Her strength, wisdom, and peace have been an example of Jesus alive, even through her darkest time with the loss of the love of her life and father of their young children. She wrote, “It’s ok to be mad at God. God can take it. God will love you right through it. Just don’t let your anger drive you away. Take it all to God — the anger, the hurt, the joy, the gratitude.”
God will love us through it. Do we not only believe in God, but do we believe Him? Can we trust God and His Word no matter what?
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26 NRSV