Once, someone told me I would make a good pastor. I just don’t see it. In my mind, a pastor is the person who guides you through the hell life can become sometimes. Not even taking into consideration the fact that my life is a perpetual shambles, I wouldn’t do well in that position because I never know what to say to someone when they’re going through tough times. For example, a friend recently lost her father to cancer and I haven’t said much. Since I went through the same thing a little over a year ago, you’d think I’d be full of wisdom to help her through such a trying time. But, I’m not. The truth is, I’m still sorting out my own father’s death in 2012.
Now and then, you’ll still run into someone who says your loss is God’s will, as if that’s actually helpful (it’s not and here’s why). While I don’t believe it’s ever God’s will that anyone suffer, I do think God can turn that suffering to good. In fact, that was the subject of yesterday’s sermon at College Park. The text came from the last chapter of Genesis and related the story of Joseph reconciling with his brothers who had sold him into slavery many years before. Joseph, after enjoying his brothers’ discomfort for a bit, tells them “You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people” and takes them and their families into his home. As the sermon progressed, I said to myself “It’s easy to think like that when things have turned out great. What do you do when that’s not the case?”
April 10, 2012, my father’s waltz with life ended and he left this earthly plane of existence. Even with the knowledge that he wasn’t suffering anymore, it wasn’t easy to deal with. The man who was the major influence on my life was gone. I couldn’t turn to him for advice or enlist his help on a project anymore. We’d watch no more ball games together (and, truthfully, I haven’t watched any since), tell each other totally inappropriate jokes or have those free-ranging conversations after dinner. It was devastating and I could not see how God was going to make something good of it.
It’s been over a year and I still don’t see anything good. In his sermon, Michael said that nothing is so bent it can’t be used for good. I’m trying to believe that. I see examples of this happening and they make me wonder what good might come from the loss of my father. Will someone experience a certain level of good fortune because Tom Rieves isn’t here anymore? Will a life be saved because of the hardship he endured? I’d like to think so, but I’m not so sure. It’s entirely possible that I’ll have to make do with the fact that I got to spend 51 years with the best dad a person could ask for. Is that enough? God, I hope so.