Mourning Tragedies We Cannot Understand

My pastor told us a story Sunday morning,

A little girl was late arriving home one day. Her mother asked her where she was. The girl said that she saw her friend Ruthie on her way home, and Ruthie’s doll had broken.

Did you help her fix it?” her mother asked. “No,” the girl replied, “I don’t know how to fix it. I stopped to help her cry.

A tragedy like the shooting in Newtown cannot be fixed. Lives have been lost and still more lives have been shattered. It is natural to want to find solutions, but death and loss  is not something that we know how to fix. Yes, we can and should discuss the mental health system and the availability of deadly weapons that turn a malevolent thought into a tragic reality, but even if we can reduce the chance of tragedy striking again we cannot fix the lives that have already been broken by the shooting in Connecticut.

This Christmas, Christ comes to be with us. God does not come to fix all of our problems and to prevent tragedy, but to be an incarnate flesh and blood human being who lives, eats, drinks, sleeps, suffers and even dies in order to be with us. Christ comes to be a sign of God’s love in a broken world. In this season of Advent we yearn for the presence of Christ, even if, for now, Christ is simply here with us to help us cry.

Update: The original post attributed the story of the little girl to Franz Kafka. Although there is a story of Kafka helping a little girl who had lost her doll it appears to be a different story. The story as told by my pastor (who heard it from a friend) appears to have originated on the blog beliefnet. Since the story resonates regardless of the author I have updated the post to simply tell the story without mentioning Kafka.

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