After a long 24 hour bedside vigil, I was finally able to come home, change my clothes and shower. But it’s not over. I’ll go back to her bedside shortly, and breathe in her precious smell until she smells like heaven.
I know how this goes. My youngest sister will be the fourth beloved, precious family member we will lose in just over a year.
Oh, Lord, I just don’t understand. What is going on here???
Last year, on Christmas morning no less, we first learned Heidi had a brain tumor. Later that same week we were informed it was glioblastoma – the fastest growing, most deadly and ruthless form of brain cancer with an average prognosis of 12 – 14 months Screaming into Nothingness (when God disappears). Here we are, in month 13 and she is days (maybe hours?) away from dying. Heidi is anything but average, but in death, her numbers will align fairly well with the statistics.
She will leave behind a husband, Chad, who has been her best friend since forever. They were married 23 years. Chad and Heidi have two children – Ashley, 17, a high school senior, and Nate, 14, an eighth grader. Don’t tell me they’ll be okay. They won’t – at least not yet. Their momma is about to die.
Oh, Lord, I just don’t understand.
It’s NOT okay to lose your momma when you’re a teenager. I have analyzed this situation from every angle and I can find nothing that makes sense or eases the pain. And I think I could punch someone in the face right now who tries to tell any of us how God works all things together for the good.
There is no way this can be good. No way.
Unless, perhaps…. Unless I don’t understand what “good” really is….
As a family we have all wrestled with mortality and God and His plan throughout Heidi’s illness. But one night, while in a long nighttime wrestling match with God, I suddenly wondered if His idea of good is simply not the same as ours. Maybe He doesn’t have a Webster’s. Maybe when He Google’s “good”, He doesn’t read of the things we typically think of (health, wealth, prosperity, fitting into your size 6 jeans, sipping wine along the Cour Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, France…)
If God is good, and I have NO DOUBT He is, then His definition of good CANNOT be the same as ours.
Because, Oh, Lord, I just don’t understand you otherwise.
It’s interesting, but in my experience, the things that we typically think of as “good” and as our “blessings” are often the things that create a separation between God and us. They are things that, often unintentionally and often subversively, lead us to believe we don’t need a God. Things like enough money (or too much), enough food (or too much), enough vacation (or too much), enough or too much of everything, as well as the absence of disease and absence of trials.
Conversely, it is the sufferings of this life that bring us to our knees and to the place where we find our desperate need of a Savior. And I believe that more than anything God longs to draw us closer to Him. He wants nothing more for all to come to know him and accept the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior.
So what if maybe, just MAYBE…., in God’s dictionary, “health” is not the absence of disease, but, instead, one who knows he/she is nothing apart from Christ, and that we live and breathe and have our being in Him alone. Since God IS good, and longs to give us good things, MAYBE, “health” has nothing to do with our physical bodies.
Maybe, in God’s dictionary, “wealthy” does not refer to one who has a hefty savings and retirement account, drives a fancy car, and owns all manner of material possessions. Maybe being wealthy actually means to understand that friends, family and a purpose in life are some of the richest gifts offered to us. Maybe we’re rich when we realize how little we actually need “things” and start living more simply – when we have more time for people instead of accumulating and maintaining our “things”. Maybe wealth is the opposite of what we always thought.
Maybe, in God’s dictionary, a “blessing” isn’t a concept we can actually get our heads around. Maybe, saying we’re “blessed” when referring to health, wealth, jobs, children and good fortune causes great pain to those struggling with cancer, infertility, unemployment, a prodigal son/daughter, rape, poverty, oppression, rejection, loneliness, etc. because it implies God has withheld His blessings from those people. ESPECIALLY – oh especially – when we Christians suggest it is the LACK of faith that produces suffering in this life are we guilty of serious theological malpractice!
Are suffering people NOT blessed??? Are we able to escape all trouble and heartache if our faith is simply strong enough??? When people suffer from the evils in this world is it a reflection of their lack of faith???
It just can’t be. Or God is not good. God must have a different definition of “blessed” then we do.
Otherwise, God, I just don’t understand.
So, I decided to start reading God’s dictionary. I cannot make sense of Heidi’s passing any other way. I need a God who IS GOOD. One whom I can trust even when I’m angry at Him. One who IS PRESENT everywhere. One who doesn’t pick and choose favorites and grant the rich, the beautiful, and those born into first-world countries more “blessings” than the rest.
This is what I found in God’s dictionary:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit – for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn – for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek – for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful – for they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart – for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers – for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness – for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5: 3 – 10
So as I resume this bedside vigil there are TWO things I can know for sure: Chad and family will be comforted. And Heidi, well, she shall soon see God, for she is truly pure in heart.
This precious family does not have the “blessings” that most people think of – they are in the valley of the shadow of death and this is an impossibly sad and difficult place. But, I’ve just GOT to believe that according to God’s dictionary, they are blessed indeed.
Otherwise, Lord, I just don’t understand. You just don’t make any sense to me.
And then the Lord said to me:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5