God is not an American.

God is not an American.

“Sociologists and anthropologists have analyzed and compared the various ways that cultures train its members for grief, pain, and loss. And when this comparison is done, it is often that our own contemporary secular, Western culture is one of the weakest and worst in history at doing so.”

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering – Timothy Keller

When you’ve felt the deepest sorrow in the world, you want answers.

There are times when we won’t get all the answers.

But the statement above gave me a good answer. Because we often wonder why we feel so isolated from others when we are suffering; particularly in the death of a child.

Americans aren’t always right. Sometimes we think we are in how we view things.

Our culture is all about rising above it, staying the course, being victorious.

Thing is, putting this first, without allowing the process of grieving, those things only hinder. The grieving condition is denied when the griever is expected to put a smile on their face and get back in the saddle of life again, looking the part everyone wants them to play.

The American way. 

Except, God is not an American.

The depth of sorrow we feel will be the depth of answers we need.

We won’t get all the answers. But at least we will get some. And I believe God gives us those answers along the way when we need them.

It doesn’t fix it, but it validates the pain.


mothers who grieve.

mothers who grieve.

I have “met” many mothers who have written about the pain since the death of their child.

And they write about the further pain from people who have slowly distanced themselves.

Friends, even close friends, and church family … and I have wondered why.

I think I am onto something I hope will explain at least one reason.

They are afraid.

When you look at it like this, it helps you to be the bigger person. I know you don’t want to be the bigger person but you have to be or you’ll drown in sorrow. You will not get a reason why your child died and why you feel shunned by people,  so you have to live with it. Understanding that fear may be partly the problem helps sympathy kick in rather than frustration, anger, discouragement, and ultimately, bitterness.

When your pain is not visible, well, people don’t see it. But you know it’s there because you feel it. Some days the pain presses down hard, but the pressure is there in some form everyday. You can tell when you don’t smile as freely as you once did. Or you find yourself staring out the window more. Or you hear yourself sigh.

Many say that the death of a child is the most unbearable kind of sadness. For every child who was healed, unscathed, or rescued from death, others died. I know many people who just move on and avoid this fact. They continue to carry the banner of faith as if tragedies don’t exist, let alone how to deal with them personally and corporately in a church setting. This kind of thinking is confusing to many who have been thrust into the dark abyss of horror – which is what it feels like when you lose a child.

People wonder, “What if it happens to me?” And so they avoid. Especially in the spirit-filled, non-denominational, word-of-faith and believing-God-for-favor Christian thinking. There is some serious energy in this camp and the mandate is to press on. If someone is paralyzed from a car accident, we don’t expect them to walk. But someone with a paralyzed heart is expected to walk without a trace of a limp because that’s the Christian thing to do. If you do show any signs of being different since your child died, eyebrows are raised and the gossip ensues. What’s wrong with her?

At his crucifixion, Jesus said,  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know what it feels like. This isn’t an excuse because I believe we should all be learning to let experiences shape us and teach us. With the scripture, it guides and directs us in ways we may not want, but isn’t that the point? We do what God wants the way he wants because we trust him? Because we love him? Because he knows how we work best?

If I had not walked through the Valley of the Shadow of death, I would not have known the comfort of God’s rod and staff. I would not have known the green pastures and still waters. And I would not have known to not fear. Fear leaves when you’ve seen God. Therefore, I sympathize with those who are afraid. Afraid to change direction if how they are responding does not line up with what God says.

Suffering is a part of life. We don’t focus on it, we don’t dwell there. We acknowledge it, accept it, and live with it.

For those who continue to carry out their mission of faith, if you really care about hurting people around you, think about what you are doing.  It does not validate those who have suffered and lost. Faith is much more than “taking mountains”. It’s continuing to believe when you’re under the mountain.

When I have read about men and women who have suffered throughout history, far greater than most of us will ever see, I am inspired by their courage which were certainly mingled with their tears.

Some are asked to carry a weight of glory. God knows who can.

And in the end, all is not lost. Take heart. We will hold our children again.




Photo credit: flickr.com/volver-avanzar !!! / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND