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.
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 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.