Recently, several of my friends’ parents have been life-threateningly ill. All of the parents are now alive and well except for one who passed away last week.
We go about life taking it for granted. I feel like this mentality is mostly a modern phenomenon. Hundreds of years ago, sustaining your life was a daily task–you toiled the soil or hunted on a daily basis, you were relatively unprotected against the elements, and medicine was very limited.
Now we think of dying as something that happens only when you’re old. On the off-chance that you get sick before you’re old, then we have the technology to fight the illness. We all know that this isn’t true, yet none of us expect to die anything but naturally.
When someone dies ‘too early’ it shakes up that framework in which we understand how life works. It scared me to hear that my friend’s dad died. He was in the hospital for treatment for a disease he had and inexplicably experienced massive brain damage and went into a coma. After one week in the coma, they unplugged his life support, and he died the next day.
A family friend was pregnant with twins, and for one reason or another the twins were born very premature. The boy twin died the day he was born and after 3 weeks of fighting for her life, the girl twin died a few days ago. Her name was Ariella.
I forget how fragile life is and that my life or the lives of any of my friends/family members could just disappear instantly. It’s actually a blessing that the modern world affords us the luxury of living mostly worry-free about the continuation of that life. But it also means that we have more difficulty coping with death. And it means that we are unjustly irreverent towards powers greater than us.
Maybe as I get older and my friends (or I) get cancer, MS, or osteoporosis I’ll gain more reverence than I currently have.
The mother of the family friend who was pregnant has a brain tumor. I haven’t seen her for a couple of years but I have heard that she is not in a good condition and hasn’t been for a long time. I don’t think I was alone in seeing her daughter’s pregnancy as a much-deserved blessing for this family…which made the loss of the twins all the more tragic. They’re such good people and why must they experience such despair and hopelessness?
Last week, my coworkers and I were talking about–essentially–bad things happening to good people. It just doesn’t make sense, does it? Especially if you believe in God and believe that God is good, which 2 of my coworkers do.
They both see bad things happening to good people as a test of God. “A test of what?” I asked. “A test for the rest of us to do good.” This whole notion that God would test the rest of us at the detriment of someone else seems ludicrous to me. And what happens when we pass the test? What happens if we don’t?
I often think that religious people are less internally tormented because they actually have answers to questions like this. It’s emotionally harder to see life as random and unintended. While I beat myself up over all the things I don’t understand, religious people at least have some type of answer key, if not the answers themselves.
Deep down, all of us know that there are no answers. At least no answers we can know. Maybe that’s what causes religious people to cling to their answers even more–once you’ve chosen to believe a version of the truth, why would you disrupt that inner balance by conceding that your beliefs are just as random as life itself? It is much smarter to believe even more wholeheartedly…it’s not like any other theories are any better.