A person never expects to hear about the death of a friend’s child. Especially when that child only spent twenty-one years this side of heaven.
Just over a week ago, I learned that a friend’s daughter died unexpectedly. Gone. How does one even grapple with that?
Even as my One Word for the year is Live (as in to live well), my friend and her husband were forced to deal with death.
The death of a daughter/step-daughter. Death of relationship. Death of dreams. Death of visions like walking her down the aisle one day. Holding her babies. Of watching her grow on the journey that she had already begun into the full beauty of womanhood.
It’s hard to grasp that she is gone from this world, because she is still so alive in my heart. I still see her smile when I think of her family. My heart has had to be reminded of what my brain keeps trying to comprehend. She’s really gone from here . . . and probably laughing with Jesus right now.
Even on the morning after I learned this tragic news, God led me in my Bible reading to verses about life. Our days on this earth are filled with living . . . and dying.
The thing is? Our Father sees beyond the now—beyond life in a physical sense—to the eternal.
We’ve read the verses about how God knows the number of our days. It’s just hard to accept when that number seems so small. When that life was just getting started.
But God . . .
He accomplished much through this young woman’s life. He touched the lives of her friends during her teen years. Many tributes on her social media walls speak to the impact her daily living had on their lives. How she changed them just by her being who she was, by caring for them, laughing with them, and “being there” for them.
I’ve tried to get a handle on the why’s of God’s allowing her to pass from this life to the next so quickly. And you know what?
I can’t understand it.
What does one do when the God they thought they knew allows this kind of tragedy?
How does a person rectify the sudden loss of a precious life within the context of God being a “good God?”
The only answers I have are:
~God’s character doesn’t change when unthinkable things happen in our lives. He still loves us. He is still good, even when He allows horrible things to happen. He is still faithful, even though what we experience doesn’t feel like this is true.
~And, as much as this may sound like a cliché, our God lives and moves beyond the framework of time that humans are confined to. He views our lives through an eternal perspective. All we understand is life on earth. He knows life on earth, but He sees so far beyond that.
And, even when things happen in our lives that hurt more deeply than we could have imagined . . .
Even when we are forced to walk through our greatest fears . . .
Even when it seems like God has abandoned us . . .
He is still walking as close as our next breath. He is the God of all comfort. He still gives us strength when our greatest fears become reality. And He stills lives out the promise that He’ll never, never leave or forsake us.
He will bring us through.
~Our God is a God who loves fiercely. He is never-changing. So, even when life tilts our perspective, our Father still stands steady as our firm foundation.
There’re a myriad of questions swirling in my head. But I keep coming back to the truth that God is God and I am not. He doesn’t expect us to understand His ways.
We can choose to embrace Him in the pain and find comfort and unexpected strength. Or, we can turn away and find the pain multiplied through isolation and bitterness over time.
I don’t have the answers. I only realize that one aspect of true faith is clinging tightly to what we know about God when everything seems to point in the opposite direction.
And the thing is? Death never has the final word. Life does. My friend’s girl is more alive than ever in heaven. And, in time, those who loved her most on earth will find seeds of life sprouting up through the the grief of her death.
So, as my friend and her family walk through this horrible hard, I will continue to pray for them as they live out each day. I will look for ways to encourage them as they begin to define what life looks like as they now know it.
What about you? How do you navigate the hardest seasons of life? What strengthens you during painful times?