I’m reading the second chapter of The Searchers by Joseph Loconte, A Grief Observed.

It’s a beautiful chapter about grief – and the God who suffers with us.

With us.

Joseph writes:

There are [some], speaking as representatives of Christianity, whose approach to evil and suffering actually amounts to a different kind of denial. They insist that everything – literally, every action and reaction – happens according to God’s prearranged plan.

We are all familiar with the pious refrain from a priest or minister, intended as consolation in the face of tragedy and loss: “It is God’s will.”

Are our messages on the mystery of suffering so confident, so theologically precise and intellectually rigorous – yet utterly detached from the everyday struggles of the people before us?

Do we walk with our neighbours in their grief – or do we stand above it all, offering philosophies about the ultimate purpose of suffering?

Here is one of my favourite scenes out of a film, where a teacher offers her time to sit beside a dying student. It is the only visitor she ever receives.