In the past month, our family has touched the fringe of human suffering as we have received news of several tragic events. A former piano student died after giving birth to her stillborn baby after only 33 weeks gestation. A former church member and our girls’ high school study hall monitor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Nineteen firefighters died in my home state of Arizona, fighting a fire near a church camp I have visited.
Isn’t it interesting how the soul waxes most eloquent during times of suffering as our creative nature kicks into high gear in our struggle to find answers? My older daughter shared the following thoughts on her Facebook page and I asked her if I could share them with you.
“Within the last month, I have heard of a former church member/teacher/friend with cancer, an employee I’ve befriended going on disability due to health issues, another recent cancer diagnosis, a patient severely beaten by her ex-husband’s new wife, and two different friends who have lost a sibling in tragic circumstances.
“Each of these situations is heartbreaking, and life-changing for those involved. But I imagine each of you could probably list a similar half dozen, or more – it [suffering] is a component of almost every life, at some point. And Facebook provides a great portal for knowing and connecting with more stories around us, even of people we no longer see face to face.
“With each of these, there is not much I can physically do, beyond the initial sympathy. Very often this is the case with stories we hear, especially through Facebook. But I pray that we would use these stories as reminders.
“Reminders that the world is much bigger than our little piece of everyday existence. That there is life beyond grad school, or diapers, or cubicles, or wherever we are at.
“Reminders to pray, and for more than just our own daily bread. Prayer that God would send people to sit with the people we know and remind them of His presence and Love. And prayer that God would help us to reach out with courage, compassion, gentleness, and grace whenever opportunity presents, such as with the patient I pretested, or the employee I see on occasion.
“And finally, let these be reminders that this world is not our home. We are witnesses to the brokenness of life, but we have also witnessed God’s love, grace, and power to sustain us in all parts of life. And there is a future beyond this crazy messed up place we call home. Praise the Lord for that.”
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