I was just reading an article by Jackie Hance about the loss of her 3 daughters in a horrific traffic accident. For those who don't remember, the Hance girls, ages 8, 7, and 5, were passengers in a vehicle driven by their aunt who, after going the wrong way up an exit ramp, continued onto the highway and hit an SUV head-on in 2009.
The article was about going on, surviving. Mrs. Hance, who is a talker, asked several priests "why?" in the days and months that followed the deaths of her children. She says that one of them, at least, told her that the girls "needed to be together". She could not and does not understand why, if that is the reason, God could not have just allowed them to be together here.
I have never, thank God, had a child die. I have had a husband die in an accident and I have asked "why"? I did not ask priests. I just asked God and when I did not get the answer I wanted, or any discernible answer at all, I quit talking to Him.
For a time, I went to a Lutheran church and the pastor there told this story. He was unprepared with a sermon one Sunday as he had spent the day before with a family who had lost a child, an infant, to illness. The pastor, a father of 3 little girls himself, had prayed all the way over to the house for the right words, for ANY words, that would comfort this family. He said that he was amazed when the mother told him that she understood, that it was God's will. He did not disagree with her then but he was up all night thinking about that. He came to the conclusion that he did not believe that it was God's will - that he did not think that God decided to give a child an incurable illness. He believed that God allows the world to unfurl and unfold and then what God does - the miracle of God - is that He gives us the grace to not only get through the worst things but the chance to make something good come of them.
This sermon touched my heart. It took me years, still, to find my way back to my Church but I did remember that God loved me. I remembered that I believed in Him and to look for the good in all things.
I was thinking of the pastor's parable when I was reading Mrs. Hance's story. I wish that the priests that she had talked to, indeed, all of us, would remember that sometimes the three most important words are "I don't know".