So it seems in the past year, I've been faced with more circumstances of death, illness, moral failure and natural disaster than I ever have before whether I was affected directly by it or have just seen it affect people around me. I don't know if it is that the circumstances have grown or that I'm just older and am more aware.
Two weekends ago, 12 people were murdered in Birmingham in two days. A week before that a friend lost just about everything she possessed in a fire two weeks before she was to leave for Brazil for eight weeks. This past week several countries in the Asia and Africa have been affected by natural disaster. Sunday a close family friend's body was discovered in the backwoods of Edwards, MS after a month of being missing. A co-worker lost her sister earlier in the year to cancer. Today, my roommate found out that her grandfather may have lung cancer. Also another close family friend found out her 9-week-old son may have a rare disease and today, my grandmother, who was going to turn 90 a week from Saturday, was killed in a freak car accident.
What happens when we are faced with such circumstances? How do we respond? Why does it happen?
When I found out about my grandmother, I cried a bit, talked to friends, started packing and then sat down to read the Bible. When I opened my Bible, my eyes fell on these verses in Job:
"God does all these things to a man - twice, even three times - to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life many shine on him"
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."
I have to say that I'm quite surprised by the way that I've handled certain situations this year. Instead of wallowing in grief, my immediate response has been, "May God receive the glory from this."
Why? Because there is nothing that I can do to change anything in this life. God is the ruler of this universe and controls everything, down to the smallest detail. And I can't argue with the Big Man. I don't want to. The only thing I have is my faith, through the amazing grace of God, and peace through the abundant mercy that he shows his people.
Two of my favorite verses come from Psalm 71:8, 14-15:
"My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long...But as for me, I will always have hope, I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of you salvation all day long, though I know not its measure."
It's so fitting, I think. There's nothing else that we can do, nothing else that we were made for, no better way to spend our time here on Earth, than to declare the glory and majesty and love and salvation of awesome Mighty God.
No matter how bad things ever get for me, nothing will ever be as bad as if I was not a child of God. There are millions of people in this world who haven't ever even heard the name of Jesus. They are much worse off than I ever will be. So I can sit back and pity myself or I can join the mission of God and go and tell those people why I can face such hardship and still have hope.
I've learned that life is fleeting, people are perishing and eternity is coming. So I can either get involved or get out of the way.
In the words of Jonathan Edwards, the great man of God from the Great Awakening, I am "resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live." And "resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do , if it were the last hour of my life." Live for Jesus and the hope that he gives.
Please pray for my family, especially my mom as Dearmom's death came as such a shock. We were all praying that the Lord would take her on, but in a list of a million ways we imagined it would go, a car accident was definitely not one of them. God works in his own way.
Also pray for the family of Mark Ginn. Losing a father is not easy, but losing a father like they did is definitely hard to swallow. Pray for peace for his wife Regina, and for his children Matt, Marcus and Marianna. I know they have a lot of unanswered questions and I pray that they will seek the Lord for guidance.
Pray for my roommate's grandfather as he goes to the doctor to get a spot on his lung checked for cancer.
And pray for three friends who are abroad sharing the love of Christ. Amanda is in Tokyo for the summer, Leslie is in Brazil for eight weeks and Carrie is in Africa (for what amount of time I am not sure). May the love and grace of the Lord flow through them so that his glory can be seen. May he travel before and behind them and may they be his hands and feet to the lost of the places where they will go.
This may have made no sense but as a writer, this is my way of getting it all out. I'll just leave you with a few more of my favorite verses which show the complete awesome character of God.
"The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."