Friday, October 29, 2010

Rounding third...focused on Home

Grief is a strange and horrible thing. To watch someone you love suffer well makes it worse. A young man I know is dying of cancer. He was diagnosed as a boy, and has grown into a man with an uncertain future. Yet, now, as the pain becomes unbearable and the cancer takes over his body, he remains fixated on Heaven and on praising God in ALL things.

His sister knows that his time on this earth grows shorter with every moment. She wonders every time she speaks with him if it will be the last time. She hates to leave the house for fear he will be gone when she returns. Yet, she is confused why God allows him to continue suffering. Why, if he has finished his earthly work, is he allowed to linger in unspeakable pain?

His mother has watched his progress from diagnosis through treatments to testimony and now to dying. Her faith is evident, and she chooses praise and trust in God's perfect will, but at the same time her heart is shredded by the suffering of her son.  She knows intellectually that God loves him even more than she can. She understands that God knows the pain of watching a child suffer unto death. She recognizes that God loves each of us more than we can imagine. But she is a human mother who wants to make the path smooth for her child, and she is helpless to ease his physical pain.

How does one justify the love of God with the seemingly unnecessary suffering of a believer and his family?

C.S. Lewis learned about suffering and grief and pain watching his beloved wife die of bone cancer. He wrote of that misery,
         "Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact   that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."     (Lewis, A Grief Observed)

Lewis never lost his faith in a loving God, but he, in all his intellectual genius, couldn't answer the "why" question either. He compared grief to fear, and scorned those who tried to put a "religious" face on suffering. There really is nothing worse than the mindless cliches' about a "better place" or a "reason for everything." They may be accurate cliches' but they don't ease the heartache of the sufferer--or those who suffer around and with him.

I don't understand the mind of God--how could I? I can't make sense of this kind of suffering, either--for the young man physically and for his family emotionally.  I can't see the good God promises to work out for those who love Him, as this family truly does.  All I can do is be inspired and motivated by their stubborn praise, knowing that God is sovereign and that HE knows the reasons.

"Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?"
(Lewis, Christian Reflections)


Chris Evans said...

Thank you Stephanie for your perspective. As the father of a son who suffered so much I am left speechless. There are no answers that adequately explain the reasons for such suffering, other than the fact that I watched my son grow madly in Love with the One who had healed his heart, King Jesus...which is, I think enough.
Thank you John for inspiring us all to live beyond our selfish ambitions and serve the living God selflessly.
You will be missed, but never forgotten.

Martha said...

Oh my goodness. Crying my eyes out! This is a beautiful relfection and such a good reminder of God's power and sovereignty. John is such an inspiration and his story will forever be told!
I needed this. Thanks! = )