When Ministry Is Welcome

Firsthand accounts of successful, unplanned ministry.

When People Are Grieving

by Barry Black, chaplain of the U.S. Senate.

"How can we believe in God when a good man can be so cruelly snatched away?" a young man asked after a memorial service. "How can we have faith in a world like this?"

Prior to my appointment as U.S. Senate Chaplain, I served 27 years as a military chaplain. Too often I had to tell family members of the death of a soldier. At those moments, we must avoid glib, omniscient platitudes regarding complex issues of theology. Grieving people aren't looking for comprehensive answers; they want a connection. They want someone who understands the pain, if not the reasons for it.

At a recent service commemorating the one-year anniversary of a senator's death, I lingered afterwards. Hurting people often wait until after a service to approach, looking for the right moment to seek guidance. It was then the young man asked me his question about faith in a world like this.

"I don't know," I answered. That response often diffuses the tension ...

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