October 15, 2009

Yet, I Have Hope

She is in the last stages of life.

Despite our efforts to keep it away, death lingers outside her door.

I’ve never been so close to it before. Never watched someone I love travel this journey.

Even though I’m but a spectator, the sadness lays on me like a leaden blanket. My insides clenched. Battered.

How can this be? It’s so cruel and unfair.

I pray with her and read Psalms and try to find words that comfort.

But what words can I find for a husband losing his wife.

To children losing their mother.

To a father losing his daughter.

Crying out, “Why!”

To respond with phrases of God’s love or His plan sound hollow and Pollyanna.

Words fail.

We prayed for healing. We prayed for a miracle. Our prayers have not been answered.

Our human minds do not understand why.

Does this mean God failed?

Is He a fair-weather god? Powerless or unwilling?

It is a moment of faith. Of choice.

Can we see God’s goodness when the situation is anything but?

Can we accept His will when it’s not our own?

Through this God has challenged me, “Do you believe I am who I say I am?”

Do I?

Do the words I write, the faith I profess, the beliefs I hold ring true as I witness the suffering?

My faith's been shaken. I've teetered.

But, even now, I do believe.

Even in this God has to be merciful and loving. He has to be bigger than the ravages of cancer, the anguish of suffering, the agony of loss.

Because if He isn’t what are we left with?

What is the point faith in the first place?


Jeremiah knew affliction.

In Lamentations 3 He wailed about the darkness in which he walked.

Broken physically, weighed down with chains, shut out from God, mangled, pierced, mocked, trampled in the dust, filled with bitterness and gall, deprived from peace.

And yet after 20 verses of distress he utters,

"Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." (v.21-23)

These words have given hope to Christians through the ages and inspired one of our most beloved hymns: Great is Thy Faithfulness.


So each time I visit my friend I bring Jesus with me, as I know others do as well.

I stand firm in my faith.

It’s all I can do.

Even though she’s a strong believer, her mind is shutting down. She’s sometimes confused and agitated. It’s wrenching to see.

Yesterday, as she settled down from such an episode, I sat at her bedside. We were alone for a few minutes. I think she knew who I was, but I’m not sure.

I told her, “I’m your friend and I love you. And even though you might not think so, God loves you to.”

I told her about heaven and the life waiting for her. How she’d sing and dance and run. That she’d be with everyone she loves. And that it would be more wonderful than the best day at the beach or the funnest vacation or the happiest day with her family.”

She listened intently and visibly settled.

“Do you really believe that?” She asked.

“Yes, I do.” I replied.

Our friend is a remarkable woman who she spreads love wherever she goes. The outpouring that surrounds her and her family stands as testimony to a life lived for Jesus. In every act of compassion and caring we see that love coming back. And we see His hands and feet, loving as He commanded.

Because of His great love, we are not consumed.


15 comments:

Sue J. said...

This is one of the toughest places to be, I think. You feel so powerless to do or say anything important. And, I often then go away questioning why I think I SHOULD have power to effect anything. Still, I'm there....I was called there. I have a purpose there.

Reading your post makes me reflect on where Mary, His disciples and friends stood in looking at Jesus' suffering. Physically present. To our knowledge, they didn't say anything. In their minds, golly, the questions. Why DOESN'T He save Himself? Why is HE dying?? What did He bring me and my life, what will I do next? Wonder if they had said something what they would have said.

Jesus was the one who quoted Scripture. So, perhaps you have chosen the best thing. For though you don't have the power to change God's course, you do have the power to assure her of that very course--that it is His and that He loves her and has plans for a future and a hope.

Thank God she knows what that Hope is and for a dear friend who reminds her that it is not lost!

Julie Gillies said...

My heart aches for your friend and their family, Kelli. I think there are things we will never understand this side of heaven.

For the past 3 weeks one of my dear friends, a missionary on the other side of the world, has been staying at our home. She's here on emergency furlough because her mom was gravely ill. Only 58 yrs old, her mom just passed away on Monday.

We prayed and believed for her healing, too, but in the end, Jesus took her. My friend and her family are SO grateful that her mom is no longer in pain, and we all rejoice that she's THERE now. Heaven.

It's been an emotional few weeks, so I completely understand what you're going through. I pray that God grants you and your friend and her family utter peace and His overwhelming presence in the midst of it all.

Analisa said...

My prayers are with you. We want our love ones to stay with us until they are very old and full of gray hairs and memories, even then we don't want them to go.

All of us are instantly healed when we stand before God's throne. If God doesn't heal her on earth she will be healed instantly too.

God bless.

Kelly Combs said...

This really makes me feel like sobbing. I hate it! I hate the loss of "good" people, God-loving people. I hate that mothers of little children die. I hate the children die! Why, why, why?!??

BUT God. That's all. But God. God is always still God. We can pray that he take away the bad things, and if he does, it's because he is God... and if he doesn't, he is still God. And that is all we got. God. I'll take him.

Terri Tiffany said...

I went through this two years ago with a good friend. She asked me to pray with her and to tell her she would be okay and I know my answers back to her were difficult to form. But she died leaving a strong legacy about her faith in God. Your friend is blessed to have you there.

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, my heart goes out to you, your friend, and her family. So tough to lose loved ones, especially when it happens long before it should...

Another wonderful passage from Lamentations is in 3:32-33:

"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men."

And remember what Job said:
"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." (13:15a)

Hoping in Him with you!
Cheryl

Carmen said...

Wow Kelli! What a beautiful post!

I love the piece you quoted from Lamentations...such a powerful piece. It is truly through suffering that we find out how deep our faith is.

I had a friend who died and left behind two daughters (she was a single mom). The one asked why God took her Mom when she needed her more. Interesting. Devastating. It was hard no one had any answers. Sometimes we have to trust that God knows best.

Even with this condition I have, my faith has been tried...and yet I believe. I can do nothing else...it is who I am. I'm so glad that you are able to be there for your friend...with Jesus. His hands, His love, His heart!

Susan S said...

A very wise woman said to me today that perhaps the miracle that we have been praying for will be the strength in faith and love that we will have gained from this experience. It is painful yet humbling to be with a friend at the end of her earthly journey, lifting her up gently into God's arms.

Anthony said...

Kelli,

You beautifully captured how we all feel. I find it hard to believe most of the time but know that, without faith in Jesus, this would make no sense. God's gift of love is being demonstrated every day in ways I have not seen personally by John and the girls, Christine, you, Kami and others. And it is inspiring.

Anthony

Runner Mom said...

Kelli, sending you hugs today! What a beautiful and powerful post. I will be praying for you all...to stand firm in the faith even though we don't always understand.

Love you!
Susan

christine said...

Kelli,

Thank you for writing with such beauty and sensitivity. It is so hard for me to express with words what this experience is like but as usual, you were able to capture the moment. I want to make sure you save these thoughts and share them with the girls when they are older. This post demonstrates the love their Mother shared with all of us and will provide some peace and comfort for the girls.

Keep up the amazing work!

Love,

Christine

Justin said...

Kelli,

Thank you for this blog entry. I think and feel so many things as I read it... things about your friend and her struggle... things about you and your gifted, insightful writing... things about my own life and its joys and sorrows... things about Jeremiah, the prophet and poet... and things about our God, who is most present when he seems most absent.

Thank you for teaching me today. Thank you for encouraging me today. Thank you for comforting me today. Thank you for simply being you.

May you feel the arms of the Lord wrapped tightly around you.

Psalm 73:25, Justin

Irritable Mother said...

Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.
Yes, indeed, when we call to mind the Lord's great love and faithfulness, when we place our focus on Him and not on our circumstance, we can have hope. And it isn't all about Pollyanna, either.

May God bless you and shine through you as you hold out hope to your friend and her family in this dark hour.

His goodness remains!

APowers said...

If we can deal with all the crap on earth and stay faithful to Him, when we arrive in heaven he has kept his word.....amazing. So many things are not fair here, but what lies ahead is His promise.

Great job in keeping the faith. My thoughts and prayers go out to K and you during this time. You are an extraordinary friend.

Laura said...

Kelli-

I am so sorry that your friend and her family are going through this. I, like you until now, have never been this close to death. You bless me with your words, I hope I remember how to comfort this way when the time comes.

Praying for peace for all in this.

As for Don Miller...I'm glad to find a kindred spirit! He is so amazing. Yes, as soon as we got home, I read his book all the way through without stopping. It was lovely, just like the others, but seems to have a maturity the others lacked. I can't explain it, except to say that I cried a great deal towards the end. I won't ruin it for you, though.

I would go see him again in a heartbeat!