During this twenty years as a minister, Reverend Jeremiah Gordon has seen people do a lot of nasty things to one another. He has witnessed the effects of adultery, divorce, domestic violence, addiction, racism, bigotry, and so much more. He could have given up on his parishioners a long time ago, but he had always felt that there was hope for them. All they had to do was turn to God. God would save them, he would be their way out. Anything was possible through the Lord. That’s what he thought and that’s what he told people. He will tell them that again today, only this time he’ll be lying.
It’s been three days since the body of eight-year-old Cici Thorogood was found. A lot has happened in the past seventy-two hours. Her parents, Dayna and Russell have been questioned numerous times, leading some to wonder if they had anything to do with their daughter’s murder. Anyone who knows them knows that they’re not capable of doing something that horrific, but those who don’t know them are hoping that they did do it, because then that would mean there wasn’t a monster on the loose waiting to take their child. And for the first time in his life, Reverend Gordon is questioning his faith.
Today isn’t the first funeral for a child over which he’ll preside. Far too often children get sick, are involved in car accidents, drown, or fall and hit their heads – all of it sad, all of it unfair, but all of it normal. To be murdered, though, there is no way to make sense of that. A just God never would have allowed this to have happened; which can only mean one of two things: God isn’t just and, therefore, unworthy of our devout love and faith; or, there never was a God in the first place.
Reverend Gordon suddenly finds himself leaning towards the latter; but he won’t tell anyone that; at least not today. The Thorogoods and every other member of the congregation have already lost so much; he’s not about to take away their faith as well.
Instead, he will quote passages from the Bible he hopes will bring them some measure of peace: Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Matthew 5:4: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like the people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again; we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
And then, once the service is over, Reverend Gordon will begin his search for something he can truly believe in.