Sunday, September 16, 2012

Truth in Tragedy

Isaiah 57:1-2  “...For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace...” (ESV)
When tragedy strikes, the question spoken or unspoken is always “Why me (or them)? Why this? Why now?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I found myself asking those questions again last night as I received the news of the sudden passing of my friend’s husband in a car accident. We strain to comprehend how a good, honorable, God-fearing man, young and with so much promise for the future would suddenly be snatched from this life to leave a young widow and son alone.

I don’t pretend to understand the “why” of any of these things any more than when I personally have endured unbearable pain such as it brings. What I have begun to understand--admittedly barely skimming the surface of understanding it--is that God’s perspective of these events is far different than mine.

Today while trying to reel in my emotions of sadness and gut-wrenching empathy, God’s Word once again comforted me with truth. Tragedies of life have drawn me to the one place and the only ONE who can truly make sense of the senseless. When my Dad died suddenly 12 years ago (to the day) I clung to the Psalm 116:15: “Blessed in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” When my daughter drowned, Lamentations 3:22-23 enabled me to get up each day and go on:  “...His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” And when my late husband succumbed to cancer, my life verse became Psalm 18:30, “As for God, his way is perfect.”

Now another stone in the path of faith is placed in front of me, this time from Isaiah 57:1-2. It says “The righteous man perishes and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace...”

Truth: The righteous one who is taken from this fallen world is truly blessed, entering into peace. For him or her, it is joy unspeakable. It is triumph, not tragedy.

I know this truth doesn’t stop the pain for those of us left behind...and we seek peace that this world cannot give. Thank God it is made available to us! God alone can comfort the broken hearted, bring comfort to the widow, strength to the weary, and peace which passes all understanding.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I'd Rather Smile...I've done the Crying

“This God--his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” 2 Samuel 22:31

Today I celebrate my wedding anniversary--Five wonderful years (and counting!) with my husband, Jerry. When we decided to get married there were those who perhaps thought we were crazy, hasty, or just plain mistaken. After all, I had enjoyed a wonderful life of 34 years with my late husband, and Jerry had likewise had 46 happy years with his late wife. Was it even conceivable that we could expect to marry again with good results? We were both thankful for well meaning friends and family who were watching out for us since all of us need someone in our life to tell us we are crazy.  But in the final analysis, only we could make the choice to accept God’s gift of another chapter in our life, or stand immobilized on the brink of the next step and  choose to just live on the memories of the past chapter.

How does one make that kind of decision? That kind of choice isn’t like getting up in the morning and deciding what to wear today. I mean, if I messed up on this, my life could have been ruined. This was one of those pivotal moments where we both turned to God with reckless abandon and said, “Lord, if you don’t show up, we are goners!” As we yielded control of our life to HIM, in so many ways, big and small, God affirmed and reaffirmed the path He wanted us to take.

Today we spent time sightseeing and shopping at quaint little “out of the way” places, just enjoying being together and cherishing time away from the busy-ness of life. In one of those shops we found a painted plaque that expressed something profound that really explains the “how” of holding on to the past while turning hopeful hearts to the future. It says, “Don’t cry because it’s over...Smile because it happened.”

Taking the next step doesn’t mean pretending the last chapter didn’t happen.It doesn’t mean (in our case)  that was good and this is better. What it does mean is its okay to cherish the memories, thank God “it happened” and embrace the future.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Small Steps

 “Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?” Job 31:4

Eight years ago today a long anticipated fun day at the beach turned to tragedy. That was the day God called our beautiful 28-year old daughter, Susan, to heaven. Joy and sorrow mixed as the same ocean that claimed my daughter, gave back my husband...a grace from God for two short years. And then he too, in God’s providence, went to his heavenly home. Since then I have come to realize that there are two things that fill me with disdain--the ocean and cancer. Now its easy to dislike a disease like cancer. One can find many allies in this...even poems written about what cancer cannot take. But it seems most people love the beach, the seashore, the waves, the sand. I often feel like a spoil sport because the images and sounds all bring back terrible memories of a day I wish I could forget but which is indelibly imprinted in my memory.

So it may not be a surprise to anyone that I don’t like water; especially water with people in it! I avoid those scenes like the plague. But God has been patient and gracious with my fear. Like the gentle Father that He is, I have felt his comfort and unhurried support.

During the year that my late husband, Malcom, battled cancer (2005-06), God showed himself strong to me in so many ways. You may have followed my devotional blog, “And I Shall Yet Praise Him” during that time in my life. If you have a few hours (or days!) you can still go back and read it here.

Several years have passed and as I contemplated beginning a new blog, I recall an incident that happened just about two months ago. Jerry and I were attending a conference for Christian Counselors in Orlando, Florida. We had one day to rest up before heading back to Ohio and I felt God nudging me to face my fear. To Jerry’s surprise I suggested we go to the pool. I wasn’t sure how I would manage, but for the first time in eight years I actually got into the water and did some swimming. It was a small step in the continuing recovery process. I’m positive God was smiling that day!

So now you understand the title for my blog, and even the reason for a picture of just a little bit of water. I’m looking forward to sharing thoughts and meditations as I take the “next step” with God. I hope you’ll join me in the journey!