If there is anyone in the world who knows about undeserved pain and inexplicable suffering, it is Glenn.
Glenn was a normal, healthy middle-aged man until a couple of years ago, when his feet began sending pain signals to his brain for no reason at all. The result, despite long months filled with surgeries and medication, is that Glenn frequently must use a wheelchair and have a constant flow of pain relievers.
A couple of weeks ago, Glenn hobbled up the steps at the front of a church auditorium, relying heavily on a cane, placed a piece of paper on the podium and began to read this prayer during the memorial service for a 7-year-old boy. I post it with his permission and the permission of Liam’s parents.
For Liam – January 28, 2012
Lord, you have always been our dwelling place;
before the mountains were formed
or the first stars danced with light,
from everlasting to everlasting,
you have been our God.
But Lord, it wasn’t supposed to end like this,
gathering to sing a few songs, tell stories,
and share memories of a little boy,
his smile, his art, and his love
for his mom and dad and sister.
So I hope you do not expect us to act
as if nothing has happened,
as if we are not disappointed with you.
How can we help but say,
“If only you had been here Liam
would not have died?”
How are we to get over the death of a child?
At least you got to see your son grow up.
No, everything is not okay. Not with us – or you,
not now, maybe not ever.
Forgive those who think everything is fine,
who are eager to assert your good reign.
Strike dumb those who would dare to say
this was your will, a part of your plan.
Restrain those who would rush to affirm
that all things work together for good.
If you, God, can do all things, then couldn’t you
accomplish your good without this grief?
O Lord, we are broken;
we grope about in darkness.
We cannot deny our pain,
and yet we find that we cannot deny you.
This we call to mind,
and therefore we have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
your mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
We have seen your mercies in the most unexpected places.
We’ve seen a little boy more concerned
about his parents than for himself.
We’ve seen that because of Liam
families in far away places have a better chance
of seeing their children live.
We’ve seen parents live with amazing hope
and relentless courage.
We have seen glimpses of your faithfulness.
But what we most wanted, we did not receive;
glimpses of mercy have not been enough.
Lord, we prayed so much for Liam, for this family;
now we hardly know what to say;
nor anywhere else to go but to you.
You have much work to do here,
and we call you to it.
Lord, grant Matt and Amy your peace for today,
your strength for tomorrow,
and courage for years to come.
Catch them in your arms when they fall.
Grant Gary and Sandy, Roddy and Nancy grace
to love and shepherd their children.
Hold them as they watch and remember.
Grant your church the loving discipline
to walk alongside this family –
confused by your mysterious absence,
refusing to let go of your love.