Don’t waste this suffering!
Last night, I attended the funeral of a 44 yr old women who has 3 children and a loving husband. This funeral was truly impactful for many who attended and a blessing. For me, it was particularly impactful and I woke this morning reflecting on the message.
One of the reasons this funeral was so impactful was that our wives had been friends, and their marriage was one having similarities to Lisa and mine. As we walked into the room, I discovered that they too were high school sweethearts and she was 14 years old when they began dating as was Lisa when we began dating. As I looked at the pictures, while I didn’t voice it to anyone, there where so many resemblances of Lisa in my eyes.
Another parallel in our stories was that a pulmonary embolism contributed to her passing. While there are many unanswered questions of why and I don’t have many of the details, she didn’t survive the pulmonary embolism. This was particularly heart felt as Lisa had a pulmonary embolism in 2004 and was blessed to have survived which most don’t. So, the questions of “why” continue to flow. I could go on and on about reflections and parallels in our relationship, however, that’s not what this blog is about. My point is, it became very real that this could have been my wife and what if it was.
Honestly, as I entered the building, I didn’t know if this woman was in Christ. When Jen and Hunter @HunterSmithBand began to sing Better is One Day, tears of joy began to flow as my heart began to experience the hope of knowing that she was in fact in Christ. As I reflect upon this moment, it causes me to ask the question, why didn’t I know that she knew Christ and how many of my friends would I have the same question?
As her husband and family walked to the podium with great courage and spoke, many loving memories were shared. One in particular which resonated with many was “keep it simple”. For those who knew this woman, she didn’t play the games many play and you knew where you stood with her. It was a great reminder of the stuff that really matters in life.
As Pastor Eric @rev_simpson continued to guide the ceremony, he chose two words to reflect upon during this time and similar times like these, “mystery” and “destiny”. While I won’t be able to quote him as clearly as I’d like, I would paraphrase the message as follows:
“So many questions, why her, why now.” Jesus asked “why” in his final moments on the cross; Job asked “why” when he lost his family; we all ask “why her, why now”! It’s a great mystery as to why we have to experience suffering in this world. “Mystery isn’t the absence of meaning but the presence of more meaning than we can comprehend.”
Interestingly, as Pastor Eric spoke these words, I was reminded of a prayer earlier in the day related to some other’s suffering being experienced. I was reminded of another man who lost his wife and the resounding message he heard from God saying “don’t waste this suffering!” In that moment last night and now, my prayer is that we “don’t waste this suffering!”
Pastor Eric continued to focus on “destiny”. As he related, those of us “in Christ” have a much greater destiny for which this woman has moved on. He says, “Hold on to what we do know while we journey through what we don’t know.” The message is clear, we live in a fallen world full of great mystery and have the hope that goes with a much greater destiny.
As the service closed, Jen and Hunter sang, “Rita” by Bebo Norman. I’ve linked the youtube version to this song and encourage you to listen to it. I don’t know what ad will play when you pull it up, however, the ad that played for me was a company with an assurance that they would be there tomorrow. What irony, as this woman’s life and the song are clearly a reminder that there is no guarantee of tomorrow.
So, why did I wake this morning and decide to share this blog. While I’ve intentionally omitted the names of the family, some would say that this is far too personal of a story to relate in a blog, but, is it! You see, I don’t want to “waste this families suffering!” There is no guarantee that tomorrow will come for any of us. There are hundreds of people I know personally, and likely thousands, which will read this blog that I don’t know the answer to the question as to whether they are “in Christ”. If you can’t answer this question affirmatively, now is the time as it’s never been more clear that tomorrow may never come.
For those of us “in Christ”, our job has only just begun. A legacy this woman has passed on is the importance of “keeping life simple”. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we get caught up in some of the craziest games when it comes to relationships. The Gospel message is simple and it’s our challenge to insure those we come into contact hear this simple truth and that “we don’t waste Jesus’ suffering”!