Today someone died.
It’s a generic statement unless the person is someone you know. Even deeper someone you care about. Maybe someone you are related to. Married to. That happened today. To a family I know. And I’m numb.
Sharon Page died today. In a freak car accident. She was on her way to work and bam. Gone. Daughter. Mother. Wife. Sister. No longer there. She woke up today, showered, got dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee, hopped in her car thinking of what she was going to do today. And before she got to work, she was in heaven. It’s still crazy to think about that reality.
The deeper reality is Sharon is the daughter of John Newby. John passed away less than a month ago from a short bout with cancer. His wife, Becky was diagnosed with cancer the same time John is. She’s still fighting. Their grandson, Shaun, fought through a pretty hard-core battle with bone cancer a few years back. Survived. A few weeks ago, Dan, John and Becky’s son-in-law, was diagnosed with cancer. See the thing that really screws things up is Dan is married to Sharon. Who died this morning.
Dan and Sharon have a daughter Shanna. Micki was her cell group leader. Shanna loves Jesus. She just graduated from college this weekend. She was very close to her grandfather who just passed. Grandma is fighting an uphill battle. Dad just was diagnosed with cancer. Her brother already fought through and won. And her mom died this morning.
So the question for me is what does Shanna do with all of this? I’m drawn to pray for her more than the father. More than anyone else. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid Shanna’s heart is going to grow cold to Jesus. But if she’s honest, I wonder if she’s crying out, “WTF?” Maybe not as strong as I am writing, but she’s asking. Her mom is never going to see her get married. Never see her grandkids. Her mom was her best friend.
Micki just got home from visiting their home. There is weeping in every room. Wailing. I’m sure they may be asking questions. Grieving. Emotions are absolutely raw. So, what’s going on?
This year two of my best friends lost parents. One friend lost his home. In my immediate circle of friends there is tragedy. One of our friends from Virginia lost their daughter to a brutal murder. A family in our discipleship class just had a miscarriage. Then there’s the Newby/Page slippery slope. As I stop and think about it, I wonder, WTF? What’s going on? Is God really in control? Does He know what’s best? Are these events in the Newby/Page family a result of spiritual warfare? Where are the answers? Then I wonder what kind of questions should I be asking?
Then I wonder how God must feel too. Beyond our feelings. How does Abba feel? How does He feel when His kids cry out to Him in pain. Does He weep with them? I think He does. Maybe even more than we do. How does He feel when the family curses Him? Questions Him? Fumes with anger toward Him? Does He weep then too? For their loss? I think He does. I wonder if sometimes we forget that as we weep, I’ll wager Jesus weeps along side us. I’d bet my life on it.
I’ve had some conversations with Grace about this stuff today. Trying to sort this stuff out. I’m drawn to 1 Corintians 1:3-7
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
I’m also drawn to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.
These are passages I’m feeding Grace to remember and keep in mind as our responsability to the family. To be there. To comfort. To listen. To encourage. These types of questions come back to the problem of evil. The “why do bad things happen to good people” stuff. To me those are really unanswerable questions. For me, today, at least for this particular post, I think Jesus is weeping with the Page family. Because He loves. And that’s one of the many reasons why I love my Abba.
I know there are some times when Grace is filled with emotion. She’s filled with emotion on a general level, but sometimes she’s maxed out. She doesn’t know what to do with it. She’s just sad. Mad. Confused. A mix of all. And when I’m not being a bonehead father, I recognize this and rather than talk to her, I simply embrace her and hold her. When I do, she usually just melts into my arms and it’s like the emotions just flow out. Away. The situation doesn’t. But the fact that her daddy is simply holding her tells her she is loved and it’s going to be okay changes the trajectory of her spirit. The simple act of the embrace does a lot for Grace. For Micki. Maybe for you. I think God is like this.
As I quietly weep for this family, and try to process this through, there are no 1+1=2 scenarios. I of all people should know this. I just see over and over in my mind’s eye where a visual of this family weeping. Crying. Wailing. From their soul. Collectively sending a cry of sadness and loss. And Jesus holding them in the midst of it all. Embracing them. You know that kind of embrace? When you are just exploding with emotion and you just need someone to hold you so you can let it out? Like an 11 year-old girl weeping on her daddy’s shoulder. Not say anything. Just holding. Embracing. That’s what I see in my mind’s eye. Jesus simply holding a wilting family as they weep. The pain doesn’t go away. The reality is still there. But the Daddy, the Abba holds his children through it all. Bears the pain with them. Never abandons them. Weeps with them. Comforts them. Loves them. No easy answers today. Just the reality that God is love. And isn’t that all we really have to cling on when everything else crashes around us? That’s the reality. The unfathomable, unfailing, unflinching, unbreakable, unending love of Abba.
Newby and Page family, I will be praying for you to sense this extraordinary, supernatural love. And I will weep with you. As Abba does.