Choir Notes

From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4347

No matter who we are or where we live, we all experience hardship. But some tragedies are so horrific or inexplicable that they break the hearts of concerned observers across the country—even around the world. At such moments, complete strangers come together to offer sympathy, comfort, and help. The human family unites in a demonstration of compassion and goodness. We want those who suffer to know that even though they don’t know us, we care about them. We want to somehow ease their suffering.
In his many decades as a rabbi, Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, has met with countless grieving families. When he asks how they are able to cope, they answer almost unanimously, "Community, people suddenly emerging, neighbors, members of their church, total strangers coming up to them to hug them and offer a word of consolation.” This response reminds him that even when a hardship seems inexplicably unfair, "people … need consolation more than they need explanation. Feeling so singled out by fate, they need the reassurance that they are in fact good people and do not deserve what has happened to them.”
"The God I believe in,” Rabbi Kushner continues, "does not send us the problem; He gives us the strength to cope with the problem.”1 And most often, He sends that strength in the form of a caring, compassionate person—someone who can help us rise beyond "Why did this happen?” and instead seek answers to "What do I do now to keep my faith and hope strong?”
Opposition and heartache are a part of life. Good people suffer. But no one should suffer alone. We can be there to offer consolation in the spirit of these comforting words of the Psalm: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.”2
1 (2001), xii, 171. 2. Psalm 121:1–3.

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