I was sitting at the table thinking of the things most people, if not all, hate. On the back of an envelope I scribbled: funerals, suffering, sorrow, tears and separation. No sooner had I written this list I thought of the good things each one of these things bring.
I just recently was at my Grandfather’s funeral. It was much harder than I expected it would be. There were a lot of tears. But there were two positive outcomes for this funeral: my Grandfather (I believe) is in heaven, and my family received a lot of support.
If you were given the option of attending a wedding, or attending a funeral, the majority of people would pick the wedding. However, if you want to be known as a good friend, you will go to funerals. Whether it be for your friend’s mom, family member, a mutual friend, you will more likely be remembered for attending a funeral than attending wedding. Let’s be honest, your friend needs you more at a funeral than a wedding. Your presence for both would be the best, but a funeral is always less attended. I remember several friend’s showing up for my grandma’s funeral and it meant the world to me. I know how hard funerals are to attend- especially unexpected ones. The people who show up for funerals to support you are the friends to keep.
“Mr. Smith [not real name] is in the hospital again” my mom said as my heart sank. How much more can this man suffer? He wasn’t expected to live longer than a few years. His disease is terminal, yet he continues to persevere- as does the rest of his family. Time after time after time I have seen this family suffer. Car problems, terminal illnesses, cancer, broke bones, prodigal children, job loss, and the list goes on. You look at this family’s life and you’d start to ask God why He allowed them to suffer so much? God is a God who can heal; yet, for this family He’s allowed illnesses to remain- why? It’s to prove He is faithful even in the suffering. When the father of this family first became ill, each child went through a rough patch at one time or another. Yet because of the parent’s faithfulness, one by one the children have come back to serve God. They have been a living example of James 1:2, 12. Everyone faces trials at one time or another, but this family is especially unique because over the past 10+ years they have suffered more than most people do in a lifetime. Yet, they have allowed God to use their suffering to become more like Him. They are following in Jesus’s steps. Hebrews 5:8 says, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things He suffered”. Although none of us would wish to suffer, it is one of the tools God uses to make us more like Him.
I could not hold in my tears when I was told, “Gina left Jack”. I knew things were a little rough but never in a million years did I think that they would ever separate. I admired this couple so much. I even prayed that I would have a marriage like them. Why? How? When? My head was filled with questions and my heart filled with sorrow. I was in shock. I didn’t even know how to pray. Confusion clouded everything. How does this happen? How does someone say, “I do till death do us part” to parting long before death in even on the horizon? I think the questions will be there for a long time, as will the sorrow, but I am realizing that sorrow can be one of our dearest friends. How? Because when I am filled to the brim with sorrow, I cannot bear it on my own and have to turn it over to God. I have never felt so much sorrow for a marriage in my life. Because I have the gift of mercy (this may sound crazy) I sometimes feel so deeply, it feels as though it is happening to me. At first, this caused depression (and still can from time to time), but when I take this to the Lord, my prayers are more serious. I feel like I am pleading as if it were my marriage. In Isaiah 53:3a it says, about Jesus, “He was despised and rejected- a man of sorrow, acquainted with deepest grief…” Our sorrows and grief are not meant to be something we ignore, but used as a catalyst to fall into our Fathers arms and plead with him either for our own woes, or those closest to us. Let’s be like the widow in Luke 18:1-8 who persisted until she received what she had asked for.
I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of crying. There was a period of about 5 years when I refused to cry in front of anyone. If I cried, it would be alone when no one could hear me. Now, I feel like tears come so easily, and it is okay. The closer you get to God the more He softens your heart. The more your heart begins to break for the things that break His heart. Today it was an absolutely beautiful day and I spent a lot of the day in tears. God has been stirring my heart so intensely. He has been revealing things in my life that I need to repent of. As well as burdening my heart to pray for my country. At times, it feels so overwhelming all I can do is cry. It breaks my heart that we have taken another step away from God by going against His design for marriage. It breaks my heart that there are millions of men, women and children sold into sex-slavery and slave-labor. It breaks my heart that Islam is on the rise in the Middle East and America. It breaks my heart that 50 million babies have been aborted in America alone. It breaks my heart that 50% of men in the church are addicted to pornography. And ultimately it breaks my heart that I have not done more. That I have loved my comfort above the lives of others. God gave me everything and I’ve given maybe 1%. Yet, despite all my failures, He still reaches down and decides that He has not given up on me and never will. He reminds me that He chose me, He loves me, and He even bottles all the tears I cry (Psalm 56:8). Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart”
Separation is one that is hard for all of us. For me, it has been separation from my family. I moved always from my family thinking I would move back within the year. It has since been 4 years since that move. I hate not being able to see my nieces grow a little every day. I hate missing big milestone birthdays for my sisters. I just am not a fan of separation. However, God knew that separating me would cause me to rely on Him more. He knew how heavily I relied on my family. He knew He could not take me to where I needed to be because I am comfortable around my family. It is easy to be around them. They have been my support (and still are), but God knew that in order for me to grow, He would have to be my sole support. Jesus even separated himself from Joseph and Mary at one point (Luke 2:43). He also had to separate himself from the disciples and crowds. Although separation is never fun or easy, it is necessary. My relationship with Jesus needs to be intimate, and intimate relationships don’t bloom and blossom in crowds. It is in the stillness and quietness we commune with Christ and that communion takes us to a deeper level.
I don’t know what you may be facing today. It may be a funeral, suffering, sorrow, tears, or separation, but the good news is NONE of these things will be in heaven. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”!!! I want to encourage you today to learn from these thing. Don’t run from them. They are achieving for us an eternal glory. If you are not the one facing sickness, separation, a broken heart, or suffering in one way or another I encourage you be Romans 12:15 to someone, “rejoice with those who rejoice [maybe at a funeral- someone’s home-going]; mourn with those who mourn”. It will not be pleasant but let your heart be burdened for someone else. It says in Isaiah 53:4 says, “He took our pain and bore our suffering…” 1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in Him must LIVE as Jesus did”. We as Christian have a HUGE task before us. But we cannot live as He did without His help. Don’t give up my dear friends. Seek God and do good!
“Only one life twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last”
-C. T Studd