When Pain Seems Bigger than the Promise

“They shouldn’t have to make coffins that small” I thought.

“What can I do?” I asked myself.

“Don’t say anything stupid!” I told myself as I waited in line to give my condolences.

There’s one thing I’ve learned about tragedy, it has horrible timing.

I will never find the right, “comforting” words. I will never get used to it. I hope I never do.

Let me be upfront, I am unqualified to write a post on losing someone through tragedy. That just hasn’t happened in my season of life — yet. But being alive 40 fleeting years has caused me to see some pretty messed up things, and has allowed me to be in some of the most raw, tangible and transparent moments.

But there is one thing I have learned in the past few years:

When tragedy lays it’s heaviness on the unsuspecting few — there is power in presence.

Where Is God and Where Am I?

I’m not sure if it’s an American thing, a cultural thing or just a I-saw-this-on-TV thing, but when tragedy hits someone we know, we flood them with food; most of it perishable. Things like fruit, veggies, or fast food. Why doesn’t someone bring fruit cake? That last forever. As matter of fact, where’s that fruit cake from the White Elephant party?

I’ve never heard anyone say, “Thank you for those cheeseburgers during this horrible time”, or “Those individually wrapped mystery meat tacos carried us through.”

Here’s what I have heard:

“Thank you for being here”

“Just seeing your support means a lot”

“Thank you for listening”

“I’m sorry if I stained your shirt”

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. There is nothing wrong with bringing food, but don’t assume they need more food when they need more friends.

During these times, I’ve questioned God.

I’ve doubted God.

I’ve gotten angry at him.

Then I realize, He’s all I have. He was there and He is here, at this moment.

Don’t misunderstand God’s silence for His absence.

It’s always been an anomaly to me, but God is most present in pain. I don’t know why. Maybe because He identifies with it so well. Maybe because when Adam and Eve chose their will over His, it caused pain. Maybe because Jesus needed his closest friends with him while he agonized in the Garden. Maybe because God’s most painful moment was when he had to turn away from Jesus while he hung, shrouded in all of sin.

Whatever the reason, He knows pain. He knows tragedy. He knows the frail condition of the heart. And He is there.

The question for you and me: will we be there when the pain is too big for one person to carry, or will we choose to do what is easiest and comfortable?


When the sky that we look upon

Should tumble and fall

And the mountains should crumble to the sea

… darling, darling stand by me (lyrics to Stand By Me — Ben E. King)


I dedicate this post to Courage and danae.woodalls.me, along with all the Couture family. May the Lord bless you and keep you; cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

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