Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

Death and Evil, Muahahaha

If you think you'd laugh at a horse's desire to torture himself nightly with vivid and disturbing nocturnal hallucinations, check out Horace. If you don't think you'd laugh at such a thing, then tough luck, cause there aren't really any laughs in today's post.

Our good friend Rob who lives upstairs from us here in Scotland has just started a blog! Rob has a lot on his plate right now, mainly heaping servings of Ph.D. work, crazy kids and cererbral palsy. That's not to mention the constant intrusion of Matt and Jeni into his and his family's life. Rob's first post is about how to approach people who are suffering, and how people have been dealing with him over the past few weeks as problems wih his feet put him first on a cane, then on crutches, then in a wheelchair. Here are my two cents for the conversation:

When my mother died, people always said, "I'm so sorry, that's such a horrible thing to go through." First their response made me angry because I thought they were trying to apologise for her death like it was their fault. Second, it angered me because I didn't want to think of my mom's death as such a horrible thing. I wanted to think of it as just a fact that happened and that I just have to deal with. People die, I told myself, there is nothing good or bad about it. It just is.

I felt alone and cold, and only wanted my isolation and numbness to increase. I despised those who said my mother's death was horrible because I felt there was no way that would help me get on with life. I despised those who said, "I'm sorry" because I felt they were just trying to placate me by taking the blame for something they had no responsibility for. They obviously didn't understand what it was like to lose a parent and deal with it. At twelve years old I was both Stoic and Existentialist. I felt that I just had to deal with life and I felt I was alone in that endeavour.

Sometime in the decade or so between my mother's death and my father's I learned to hear those words of comfort that I had despised in a different context. First of all, I came to realize that my mother's death was indeed a horrible thing. I do have to figure out how to live with it, but I don't have to numb myself to it. Second, in light of the first realization I realized that when people said, "I'm sorry," it was a statement of sympaty, not an apology. They were mourning with me and didn't know what else to say.

They did know what not to say. They knew not to say, "Look for the silver lining," or, "I'm sure God has a reason for this." By saying, "This is a horrible thing," instead of saying, "Someday you'll look back and see how this made you a better person," they acknowledged the evil of the event. In comforting me they did one of the most important things a Christian needs to be able to do: to see evil, especially death, and claim it as evil without making excuses for it for our own comfort.

Here's a side note. Whenever Christmas comes around, I always think of Easter. Through the month of December it is likely that you'll hear me humming ressurection hymns as often as Christmas carols. (I also remember as a kid thinking that Jesus only lived for a little over three months, so take anything I say with a grain of salt.)

Why is Easter important to this conversation? Because you can't have Easter without Good Friday. And you can't have Good Friday unless Jesus actually died. There was no silver lining on Good Friday. Humanity had succeded in passing judgement on and executing their creator, sustainer and redeemer. The Son took on himself the sins of all, and because of that his own Father directed his wrath at him and turned his back on him. All of humanity, from Peter to Pilate, denied the Lord, and the Godhead itself was somehow torn assunder. There is no silver lining here. There is no shred of hope left.

How does God work all things for the good of those who love him? God does not take the silver lining of an evil event and magically stretch it out so that what once was mostly evil is now good. No, God takes what is wholly evil and redems it, making it wholly good. If there was a shred of hope left on Good Friday, how could our salvation be complete? If the Son had left himself a loop-hole through which to escape, or if he had not taken on quite all the sin of the world in order to lighten his load, or if the Father had held back the full extent of his wrath could we really recieve the full extent of his love?

There's my contribution to the discussion. I don't think of my mother's death much. I consider my father's death to have been a Good Friday experience for me, but I have never, before this post, really thought much about what I learned through my mother's death.

There it is. No stinger, no pearl of wisdom. End of post.

1 Responses to “Death and Evil, Muahahaha”

  1. # Blogger Jenevieve

    "I also remember as a kid thinking that Jesus only lived for a little over three months..."

    Nothing funny? Please.

    And about the serious bits... thanks for the reflection.  

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