When We Don’t Understand His Ways
DEATH COMES UNEXPECTIDLY! My brother loves to shout that line and then laugh his unmistakable laugh, that makes me grin. You see my siblings have this movie quote gene that I didn’t get (they got a lot of gene’s I didn’t get; cereal eating, the get rid of stuff and laugh a lot genes). The three of them run around and quote movies left and right, they ALWAYS have a quote for whatever situation you’re in. And, for whatever reason my brother, The Stuntman, loves to quote this one. Do you know what it’s from? Here’s a hint it stars Hayley Mills.
This morning that quote is played over and over in my brain. Death, that life altering event that changes us. It can change our status, or emotional well being, our outlook on life. We can be changed for better or worse. Death, it’s so hard to understand, death, ceasing to be, to no longer exist in this world, for the body to stop working; then to exist in another life, an unearthly life that we can not begin to comprehend. It’s almost too much for my brain to handle.
I have experienced the pain of loss many times, my grandmother when I was only nine. When I was in high school, two different schoolmates lost their sisters. Both girls were just children. Beloved teachers, my other grandmother, an aunt, my grandfather, The Director’s father and aunt, dear friends. I had a friend that carried her baby to term knowing that that her daughter would die soon after she was born, she lived for 45 minutes. My SIL has some friends that lost their precious baby girl after just five short months of life, she succumbed to SCID. Another friend lost her 13 year old son in a car accident and I lost a precious baby in a miscarriage. And, just three weeks ago we lost The Godfather. Each loss so hard, but somehow the loss of someone sick like The Godfather or my grandmother isn’t as hard to swallow. Even though it’s hard, you know its coming and in some ways you welcome it, so that the person you love doesn’t have to suffer any more. You miss them terribly and sometimes you stop dead in your tracks and think “I can’t believe they are gone!” How do you continue to function? Why doesn’t the world stop for your pain? You look around and think “Don’t you people get it?! My dear loved one is gone! How can you possibly think about doing fill in the blank while I’m suffering this loss?!” Why doesn’t the world stop?!
A lively, vivacious, beautiful, 16 year old girl died last night. What killed her? A microscopic amoeba, a parasite! She died from something she got while enjoying life, playing in the local river. I didn’t know her personally, but many of my friends, where I used to live, did. As a matter of fact the sister of the 13 year old boy, killed in the car accident was a good friend of hers. Today, all I hear in my head is DEATH COMES UNEXPECTIDLY! None of us is promised tomorrow! I really struggle with why? Why young people, babies, children? Why is there so much suffering in the world?! I know that Christ has conquered death; I know that she will be reunited with her family later on. But how, HOW, does her family go on without her?! I often think of my friend who lost her son, she is the strongest, most amazing woman, I’ve ever met. She is truly Christ for the world and I don’t know how she does it. How do you continue to go on when you don’t understand HIS ways?
Max Lucado offers great words of encouragement and hope in his book excerpt The Fear of Not Protecting My Kids. Specifically he says that God understands our question (This is good news for me because I am always questioning Him!), that God hates death even more than we do, that he buried a child too. He says we have to trust God; that death is just a transition to heaven, and that our loved ones, in particular children may not be in our arms right now but they are in Gods arms.
Someone, I think my Mom, posed this thought to me; death is a transition to heaven and new life, just as birth is transition from the womb to our earthly life. As I thought about this, birth is painful for both the mother and child and probably for the mothers loved ones as well. I mean really, who wants to see someone they love in pain. I’m sure the baby is warm and content and comfortable in its womb life. It probably has no desire to come out into the cold, bright, loud world that we live in. And yet, when it does enter, it finds the love of its mother and family ,and so many wonderfully, messy, fun and sometimes painful adventures. I truly hope that this is the case when it comes to death and heaven.
Again I re-visit Matt Maher’s song Christ Is Risen but two other songs ring out as well, JJ Heller’s Your Hands and Laura Story’s Blessings. And then the song that got me through my miscarriage bubbles up and fills me with peace, Casting Crowns Praise You In The Storm. I may not understand His ways but I know that He is in control of everything and I just have to have faith that He will heal our hurts and pain. And, in the end He is triumphant over all!
From Common Prayer:
Loving God, your goodness is all around us. But sometimes it seems overshadowed by pain, death, and suffering. Assure us in times of doubt that you are the God of resurrection. May our lips sing your praise, and may our lives be a living sacrifice to you. Amen