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A Comfort's Food for Thought

Good Grief

November9

                Over the past months, as I have been dealing with Ted’s battle with pancreatic cancer and with his death in September, my reading choices have naturally gravitated toward books, articles, and devotions dealing with grief.  Devotions are best, because they are short enough for me to absorb and have an inspiring message.  However, I did tackle Philip Yancey’s new book, The Question That Never Goes Away, which deals with one aspect of grief:  asking Why?   As you might guess from the title, this is a question that will not be answered with certainty this side of heaven.  But often we do ask it.

                Yancey wonders whether it would really relieve our heartache to know why a loved one was taken now, in this particular way.  He suggests that since we cannot know why, we should concentrate on our response:  “Find meaning in the midst of suffering and offer real and practical help to those in need.”  What meaning might be found in the death of someone we love?  One possible answer is that my grief and the caring responses of others to the death of one man confirm the value of each of us in God’s sight.  The universe is not a cosmic accident without good or evil, without purpose, as some scientists would have us believe.  We matter.  By responding to death with personal grief and caring support to those who are suffering, we acknowledge the existence of God, the reality of a moral universe.

                It is important to have your theology sorted out before you face a crisis.  All Christians are theologians, whether they realize it or not.  Our lives display our beliefs.  Back in June when Ted learned that the chemo was no longer working, and that a more potent medicine with intolerable side effects would add only  a few months to his life, he chose to accept his imminent death as God’s will.  I don’t think he ever asked Why?   Yes, he wanted to live; he enjoyed life, and he loved me, his children, his grandchildren, and his friends.  He wanted to stay.  Yet more than that, he loved and trusted God and desired His will.  His peaceful acceptance has made his passing to eternal life less difficult for me, but certainly it has not been easy!

                We know death is the enemy.  And we know that Jesus struggled with God’s will when He faced His own suffering and death.  We also know that at the death of His friend Lazarus, “Jesus wept.”  These thoughts give me comfort, and keep me from vainly asking “Why?”

posted under Books, Family

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I am a Christian, a mother and grandmother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, a widow, a friend. . .  My life is first of all defined by relationships–to God, to my family, to my students, to my friends. Of course, I am many other things: a reader, an e-mail writer, a piano player, and a somewhat reluctant traveler, for example.  And now I am a blogger.  I’m not sure why, except it seems to be a logical next step for someone addicted to e-mail.

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