Although the picture-taking got me most of the way through June (I confess I have a few from the end of that month that never made it up onto the blog), my summer as an intern chaplain for one of Boston’s hospitals has taken up too much of my time, too much of my heart!, for me to write very often.
But writing helps, actually. Because what I see everyday are the worst nightmares of our lives. Cancer diagnoses, alcoholic stupors, attempted suicides, lawn mower accidents, infections ending up in amputated extremities. And I have to ask, why?
Why is a hard question to answer in relation to the suffering of this life, and I don’t propose to answer it here. Instead, I’ll answer the question from Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—from where will my help come?”
Though not all of the stories I hear in the hospital are sad ones, these are the stories that stick with me. I try to remember the stories of joy and thanksgiving, for without them, it’s too easy to move into despair. But if I am not to despair, where do I find my hope? How do I hold onto my own expectation that goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life as it says in Psalm 23?
In the face of all of the deaths and sadness I encounter, it’s hard to feel hope. I believe God is with every patient in the hospital that cries out to him. I have to remember that. I have to remember that God cares about these patients far more than I do and that the sadness and tragedy of each death coupled with God’s love for us made it necessary for him to find a way to save us from it once and for all.
I can’t say I know why it still happens, why people still suffer and die, but I can say I feel I understand the Incarnation a little better. If I, given the choice, would surely find a way to save these people I barely know from the tragedy of death, how much more would the God who loved them into life! God knows each of them so much more, loves each of them so much more, grieves their pain and their sadness so much more than I do.
Though I can’t pretend to know how it works, I know God has found the answer to save us. I know God has figured out a way that even though we die, we live. Because God loves us and loves life SO much, he wouldn’t leave us in final death. God’s love stretches forever and forever and forever. He will not disappoint, even in what seems like our darkest hour. How he cares for us! That he would not leave us in sin and death but instead forge for us a path in the life of Jesus, carving out for us a way to true freedom and everlasting life.
How wonderful are your works oh God! Let all the peoples praise you, let all the nations extoll your holy name for you are the Way, the Truth and the Life and the one who hopes in you shall not die but be born to eternal life.
And with this profession of faith, I can join my voice with the psalmist and answer my own question: “From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth” because he is mighty and he will not allow his beloved children to be separated from him by death.