Looked at my Facebook news feed first thing this morning and clicked through a friend's request for prayers to a story about a pastor in the south suburbs who killed himself with a gun, as his mother and son watched.
My friend's post asked for prayers. I'm asking for understanding.
I'm not sure how old this dead man was, but he was safely into mid-life. Before he shot himself he said he had been hearing his dead wife's footsteps and her voice and he couldn't stand it any more. His beautiful wife, radiant in the couple's photo posted on Facebook, died suddenly of an aneurysm a year ago. The first anniversary of her death was approaching. Friends said the man had been depressed. And then psychotic. People were shocked, grieving, could not find words.
An aneurysm--this made me think of the story of another pastor's wife that has been circulating among people I know in Lutheran circles. This woman, too, suffered a sudden aneurysm. They feared she would not live, or would not recover. Six months later, she's driving and nearly back to normal. People speak of a miracle, and tell the story with familiarity, pride and joy. Humbly they talk of how precious even the small things in life seem when they are nearly taken away.
And so the question: why did one woman live and the other die? Why was it granted to one husband to endure a near-tragedy and then to write about it in ways that inspire others? Why did the other lose his wife and then his very self?
Let the story be a warning to anyone who has ever said "God never gives you more than you can handle."
And let us rejoice with those who rejoice, even as we grieve with those who grieve.