Friday, November 30, 2012
I woke up this morning remembering that, just yesterday, someone we love had passed from this earth to Heaven, where she is now, rejoicing with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I also remembered that someone is asking “Why? Lord.” Why did you allow such pain and suffering in this beautiful life?
The young woman is my cousin whom I did not have the privilege of knowing very well because she grew up and lived her short life in many places that were not where I was. But I knew she was there and I loved her pretty much because she is the daughter of someone I am privileged to know and love very, very much, my cousin Dorothy.
Her name is Sarah and she was known by many. She was a very pretty, very normal girl whom God brought into His life before she was ever born, and carried her through this life sweetly and steadily, even as she suffered pain most of us will never know or understand. And that brings on the question, “Why?” Not, “Why did she die?” so much as “Why did He allow such pain in such a wonderful young lady?” “Why” would a God who loved her so much, let her be in so much pain? “Why, Mommy, why?”
I could say, “Once upon a time…“ and tell the story of Sarah, but Sarah is not a fairy tale character, Sarah is a beloved daughter of God, friend and sister of Jesus Christ, her Savior: She has been a picture of Truth. God’s Truth and the story of that Truth.
So let’s just start where God started in all this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… and when it was finished, He looked at it and said, ‘It is GOOD’.” He could well have said it is beautiful and it is perfect, without blemish. BUT Satan came to the Garden and Adam and Eve chose to question God’s authority over all that He had created and sin came into this paradise of earth. And death came with it: Death and pain and suffering to all of the creation He had so carefully put together and it was perfect no more.
Now we live in His Story. It is the story of how we must each make the decision to love and obey Him and let Him lead us through this treacherous life on earth, so as to end up in Heaven someday to live for eternity with Him; or to walk away from Him and lead ourselves straight into the depths of Satan’s home territory and eternal suffering. But how does that answer the question “Why did this lovely young lady have to suffer such pain if God loves her so much?”
Well, let me tell you of a conversation I had very recently with a total stranger. We were waiting to be evaluated for a fitness program and we began discussing our various hindrances of old age, when she piped up and said, “You know, our bodies were made to last. They actually should not break down like this and someday it will happen that science will finally break through and find a way to stop this deterioration that is happening. That will be wonderful, really wonderful.” Well, by the time I got my jaw up off the floor, our fitness instructor was there to start the eval, so I did not get a chance to say, “You are right! Our bodies were meant to last! But science will never be the answer to the problem and I can tell you Who is.”
You see God’s Story of Grace and Mercy is not one that is reserved to those who believe. The rainbow I saw this morning is a promise to all the earth and all creation that He will never bring such a flood again. And the rain that does fall, or fails to fall covers all not just a chosen few, just as the sun shines on all, not just a few. And His plan of salvation is for all, as is His love and desire for all to be saved. Jesus died for all and all are welcome to turn from sin and come to Him, believing and trusting that He is their Savior.
But, in the meantime, on this earth, all suffer in some way or another. This earth is permeated in sin and we cannot get around that. Our world is wrought with problems and even those who give their lives to God and live for Him must suffer the consequences of this world being a depraved place. One of those consequences is that our bodies betray us and we suffer illness and pain, just like everyone else. God’s story for Sarah was lived out in pain, but that is not all of the story. The rest of the story is that Sarah bore the light of the world in her life and many have seen that light because of her life. God helped Sarah bear up under the burden of the failures in her body and she smiled and laughed and enjoyed life to the fullest as much as she could. People noticed and now other questions are also being asked. “How did she do that?” “What was her secret?” “Why was she able to be such a joyful person with all the pain she endured?”
The answers lie with God. He is the source of all pure joy and peace, because He is Joy and Peace and Love and Long-suffering. All things Good and Great are of God. He is Love and He loves us and wants us to live life to the fullest with Him as our Guide and God, living in the Hope of the Truth that we, too, will one day see Him face to face and live in Heaven with Him for eternity.
Sarah is there now. We can imagine her dancing with her God and singing and rejoicing and feeling no pain at all for the first time in many, many years! Hallelujah. Amen.
There is much more to know about God’s Story. And we can find it clearly written in the very Word of God, the Bible. May we feast on it and, because of our own belief and trust in God, join Sarah and Jesus there one day!