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When life (and death) doesn't make sense

A while back, someone shared a video with me about a young lady named Abigail Smith. I acted interested, but I really didn't want to watch it. I told myself it was too long (It's almost ten minutes, that's like forever!) and that I'd try to make time for it soon. I didn't. I put it off and then I put it off again. Why? Did I not have the time? No. The truth is, I didn't watch it because I knew that it would hurt.

Knowing what it was about, I didn't want to face the harsh reality that it was going to bring me. I didn't want to see someone suffering, battling for life (who would?). No, for days and even for a few weeks I put off watching it.

Reality Call


Then one day I got the call. A long-time family friend, Harold, a grandfatherly gentleman I had known for over twenty years and had gotten pretty close to, was back in the hospital. He had been moved to the ICU and it wasn't looking good. Several days, and many earnest prayers, later he was gone. His long battle with Leukemia was over. The reality I was trying to avoid had burst into my life and now commanded my attention.

In the two weeks now since Harold's passing I've had some time to think about death and life... and watch the video about Abigail Smith. I have to confess. It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. Sure, it was hard for me to see a young person robbed of a full life, her physical journey ending just when it should have been beginning. She did not get to experience the joy of marriage and the pleasure of motherhood, or the blessing of slowly growing old, living out each day with a wealth of tomorrow's. No, her experience was much different. One filled with disease and suffering and trial and weakness and long hospital stays and...

Sincere joy.


That's right, joy. Founded on her solid faith in Christ, Abigail embraced her fate and chose to live with joy. The young lady who deserved great pity became an inspiration to all she could reach. Her days were limited but her outlook was bright. She didn't have the answer to the question, "Why?" She had only the promise of scripture, the hope of the gospel and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. And for her that was enough.

Abigail was not unlike my friend Harold. He too suffered much. Twenty-one years to be exact. All the while, though, through tremendous physical pain and enduring hardship, he fixed his eyes on Jesus and found comfort and hope in Him, encouraging many others along the way. It seems to me that suffering and the shadow of death have a way of clearing out the underbrush of life, like a consuming fire, exposing the things that really matter: faith, family, hope and love. These were the hallmarks of Harold's life.

Unfair


For Harold and Abigail, the "why" of their plight remains unanswered. "It's not fair!" we cry. "How can good people like this suffer and die for no reason!?" I wish I could offer some brilliant response that would make their story (or the story of the loved one you are missing) make sense. I can't.

What I can do is share the one thing that I'm starting to see more clearly. That in the face of adversity, unfairness, hardship, sickness, rejection, suffering and pain there is a mystery. A mystery that, while it does not remedy the situation or provide answers to it, makes it somehow more bearable, offers a different perspective and replaces worry with hope and despair with joy.

The Gift


What is it? It is a gracious gift of God through his son, Jesus Christ. It is the comforting peace and surprising joy that God shares with us when we find ourselves to be an Abigail or a Harold (or a you or me).

The great evangelist, Paul, was no stranger to hardship and suffering. He experienced this mystery, this gift of God and found that in every situation (both good and bad) he could find joy. How?

By doing the two things that Abigail and Harold also did: (Phillipians 4:4-7)

1. He trusted that the Lord was near. This allowed him to cast aside worry.
2. He laid his burdens at God's feet in prayer. And received the gift of true peace.

When faced with the inescapable and unreasonable events of life and death, we too can find hope and joy if we will do the same.

To see what this looked like in Abigail Smith's life, you can watch her video here or in the window below.


I'd love to hear how you may have experienced this in your life. Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

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2 comments:

  1. This is Andrews wife. This made me tear up; very well spoken. It's hard to comprehend trusting and taking comfort in someone you can't always see, I need a reminder like this sometimes.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for posting Kristin. Yes, there's nothing harder than the loss of a loved one. But God promises to be with us always. We can't see Him, but he is faithful and trustworthy. Hope to see you soon!

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