Does Knowing Why Help?
Yes and No.
Yes, I understand the need to ask why. I also understand and feel some kind of resolution when I learn of people’s motives. Police, media and every family member is asking “why’s” about James Holmes. I want to know as well, but I don’t think it will help if and when I know why.
All too quickly the why becomes debated, politicized and academic - detached from the suffering of the remaining. It can be an escape from the most powerful calling I know – being there.
I have found some of the most impactful moments of ministry as a parish pastor came when I stood in the awful, terrible, exhausting vacuum and darkness of tragedy and resisted every reflex to run to explanations.
Instead, like a neutron rod in an atomic reactor, I tried to be there to absorb the searching, pain searing eyes of wives, moms, husbands, dads and friends and, by the grace of God, refused to look away even as it was triggering my reflex to run.
As written about in Michael and Gina Spehn’s “The Color of Rain” I did that on the floor with (then)pre-schooler Danny. As known only to my mom and me, I did that looking into the eyes of my panicked Dad dying for a deep breath. In the eleven hours it took their son to die from hanging himself in their basement, I did that with Hugh and Karen.
For them and many, many more over thirty years of ministry, by the grace of God I refused to detour on a search for why and did, instead, what I was called to do. Be there.
Like one standing in the flames of a fiery furnace with me, the questions, doubts and fears burned like a too hot fire. (Daniel 3) But it is here that I have discovered and re-discovered the Presence of God. It’s here in the aftershocks of waking up to the nightmare that the Lord visits. It’s here God is inexplicably present providing grace.
I know it’s true – just don’t ask me why.