It was late. I had been on the phone with Martha for over half an hour, talking, laughing, listening to her sometimes talk through tears as she lay in a hospital bed wondering what her tomorrow would hold.

My bedtime had arrived much earlier, but sometimes the things of life come before sleep.

It was one of those nights.

Olivia was on the couch next to me as I said bye to Martha. She, too, was full of late-night questions.

Her classmate Amber had a very bad day yesterday and talk of air flighting her to another hospital was the last we had heard about her worsening condition.

Oh, Olivia, our 14 year old philosopher, who honestly, could sit on the steps of any church with a group of elders and ask questions all day long. I said bye to Martha and turned to Olivia who began her inquiry,

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

Why doesn’t God just stop the devil now if He knows He’s going to win in the end anyway?

I know God uses pain to help others, but what about the people who are hurting? How does it help them?

How do I love God? I know He’s real, but how do I really love Him?

If something happens to Amber, what will her mom do?

If I were Amber’s mom, I wouldn’t want anyone trying to tell me about God.

I mean, I believe in God, but sometimes I don’t know how to love Him.

The questions continued long enough for Tim to join us, and the moments of silence throughout our conversation hung in the air like the sound of laundry hanging on a line on a windless day. Stagnant, unmoving, we sat in the quiet, hoping someone would pop in with a list of all the right things to say.

As I glanced at Tim from time to time, I knew that deep inside we both have some of these same questions too.

I can’t imagine muddling my way through life without God, without the Hope of Heaven, without His love.

But from an earthly perspective so much of our pain seems so unnecessary, doesn’t it?

We tried to explain things to Olivia, but the sound of our answers was even bothering me. Sometimes trite, sometimes too simple.

And then, with trembling lip, Olivia said what I think was on her heart from the very beginning,

And Nick.

I don’t remember him anymore.

Why didn’t I rub his feet more?

Why didn’t I do more nice things for him?

The last thing I remember is leaving for Maddie’s house and you saying, “Give Nick a kiss goodbye.,” and I didn’t because he looked so bad.

That’s a hard thing to have as your last memory.

I know what we’ve been through has helped other people, but how is it helping us?

Olivia began to cry, and it was all I could do to not join her.

Tim’s head went down, and I knew he, too, was sharing in her pain at a level so deep that to try and talk would have been too difficult.

I realized last night that grief isn’t just a visitor at our house. Grief has moved in to stay.

There will be nights when one of us is especially aware of grief’s presence and maybe it is in acknowledging this reality that we can all be okay with our sadness.

We went to bed with heavy hearts, unanswered questions, and a sense of loss that often becomes overshadowed by the busyness of our lives these days.

I woke up with a headache, eyes aching, and a body that is moving much more slowly than the hands on the clock.

This morning, I’m hoping you will whisper a prayer for Olivia, and if you have a verse or thought about how to help a child know God loves her and then teach her how to know she loves Him back, I would be so thankful. Pray for Martha, Amber, Amber’s family, Charlotte, and so many more who are facing tough questions right now.

I keep hearing the words to the song, “I want to know You, I want to seek Your face, I want to know You more…” in my head.

Olivia is living this song, but she’s struggling with tough questions these days.

Maybe you have tough questions too.

I wish I had great answers.

I only have Him……..

and for today that has to be enough.

I hope it’s enough for you too.

I love you all so much.

Searching with Olivia and with you,