As I sat in a hottub with a dear friend this morning, sipping coffee, listening to the birds and the world wake up, our conversation meandered, as as they do, into church.
And he shared his story. Oh-so-casually he spoke of the roles he has filled as an active church volunteer and years of attending worship. But one Good Friday, just one in lifelong stream, he finished service, put out the candles, sat down, and let his heart shatter.
His sobs brought the pastor to his side and not with words but with touch she gently rubbed his shoulder and let him cry the tears that were the words of his heart that lay in pieces far too long.
Eventually he was able to speak and revealed that he finally “got it”; how God felt when Jesus died. It finally meant something in a tangible, visceral way. You see, George had lost a son to suicide. Andrew was a young, artistic, intelligent, compassionate, empathic, loving, and far- too-good-for-this-sorry-mess-of-a-world young man. He could not reconcile the loss of his son as he fought further suicides in this world.
But this day, this morning, it struck him that the loss of his son was not a total loss for the world, but the most sickening of gains. It was a cost to save lives, a life of one that would save many. But not one anyone should have to pay in fact, not one we ever need to pay.
While George does not equate his son with Jesus, he now sees a new revelation of who God is. George understands a loving God who lost a son to save the world. George grasps the passionate love for that child, and the passionate love for humanity coupled with the desperation to save even one.
I am not romanticizing suicide here. There are no words to describe the obscenity of the pain and loss. There is no making it pretty. There is no making it better. But in the loss, in the pain, in the pit of lament, there is this one small thing that is the only thing we can find to cling to: God gets it. And we are not alone.