by Gwen Gotsch
Thirty years ago in November, my sisters, my mother and I confronted the creeping sense that something was wrong with my 56-year-old father—with Daddy, who had been the wise and loving center of all our lives.
I was 29, the oldest of three daughters, the one to whom he had said, “You know, if anything happens to me, you’ll have to take care of things for your mother.”
I knew. I called the doctors. I asked the questions. I drove him to the appointments.
The diagnosis: a malignant brain tumor. That November and the blustery months that followed were dark indeed. He died in early March.
I wondered where was God? Was God anywhere at all? I no longer felt safe in the world.
My faith had come from my family, from generations of church-serving Lutherans who trusted in God. Yet I was afraid and trembled in grief and anger before a God who thought we could endure this.
Several months after my father’s death, I worked as music director on a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” One evening I coached the young man playing Jesus. The actor, who had no particular faith background, could not see why Jesus would yield to suffering and death on a cross.
I started to tell him about my father’s illness. The cancer was senseless, malignant, but God had been present—not in a cure and not only in the community of family and friends who cared for us. God was present in the misery and the anxiety, in my father’s tender face and mild blue eyes. Misery happens in life—we are not safe in this world. We will all face sorrow and grief.
When the days grow short and the end of the year approaches, I think of the friend who welcomed the early darkness of fall evenings as a sign that it was time to come inside and do indoor things.
In both light and darkness we can trust in God’s caring presence. “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2).
Gwen Gotsch is a singer, knitter and a mother of adult children. She writes, edits and directs a children’s choir at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Ill. This blog was published in a longer version in the November 2013 issue of Gather magazine as a “Give Us This Day” column. You can read more from Gwen Gotsch on her blog, perverselutheran.blogspot.com.
Photo by Diana Robinson, Sandhill Cranes taking flight over the Platte River at sunset near Kearney, Nebraska, used with permission, Creative Commons