It has been a hard couple of weeks.
I was called upon to preach a Sunday sermon just a few days after our world was racked with multiple acts of senseless violence and hatred.
And I was invited to officiate the funeral of a baby boy, born in silence to a mom who never got to hear his first cries.
I am certainly not complaining about either of these things. I consider it a great honor and privilege to preach God's Word and to journey with families in times of loss.
But it is hard to find the words to speak when you do not have answers to all the questions.
As people of faith, when things get tough we look to God to make it better. And it makes sense, really. When we do not understand what is wrong with the broken world around us, we look to God because God understands all things.
When we are fearful about what is to come, we look to God because God knows all things even before they happen. When we are brokenhearted and lost, we look to God because God's capacity to love us is infinite.
The problem is that looking to God in need, and actually understanding God's response to us, are very different things. And that is where clergy and other faith leaders are called upon to translate.
We try to make sense both of our community's questions and of God's answers. But sometimes that is a really difficult task, no matter how long or hard I pray.
You see, God's presence in our lives and in the world does not always take the form that we think it should.
When we look to God to address a very specific need, God inevitably does something else entirely. And we may only recognize the surprising way that God addressed our need in hindsight, if we ever recognize it at all.
So I have given up on trying to fit God into my own questions. Instead I just try to listen. And when I have the privilege of proclaiming God's messages to others, I stick to what I know.
Today, this is what I know:
I know that God loves me. I know that God loves each of you. I know that faith is hard, and there are a lot of situations and challenges that make it harder. I tend to cry and yell at God when those things happen. But that is OK, because God can take it, and God loves me anyway.
I don't know why there is so much ugliness in our world - why we beget violence with violence and hatred with hatred. I don't know why people suffer tragedies and hurt and heartbreak.
I do know that God never promised us a life without difficulty. I also know that God has promised that we will never face these difficulties alone.
God is with us. God loves us. This is what I know.