Monday, December 22, 2008

In Sickness And In Health

Sorrow. We notice it more this time of year. Sandra's post yesterday was a beautiful reminder of how some walk the sad road with hope.

Part of my job is to see both the pain and the joy that make up the human experience. Just yesterday at church...

...I talked to a young mom who was all smiles -- she and her husband are celebrating the season with their first -- a beautiful baby girl.
...I talked with a family whose 3-year-old boy is full of life even though he has to daily take his meds for leukemia.
...I noticed two young couples that were away for the day, but each are spending their first Christmas together as husband and wife.
...I saw widows who are facing the season alone -- some for the first time.
...I noticed a lady whose brother has left his wife for another. The betrayal of his marriage is especially bitter at this time of year.
...On the other hand, I saw couples who will have their happiest Christmas ever -- even though their marriage was on the brink of disaster a year or two ago.

All of those things were just yesterday at one tiny point on the map in Yuma, AZ.

Sandra's nephew David and his wife Tiffany are bravely facing the loss of their tiny twins. I pray that same spirit for a family I know whose son -- and brother, husband, dad -- took his own life a few months back.

Looking into those faces and knowing that they represent but a small fraction of the stories that surround me, I wanted to share some verses that give me hope. In the first one, Christ Himself is speaking. The second is a prophecy spoken by Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus fulfilled it.

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10 MSG)

He was despised and rejected by people. He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. He was despised like one from whom people turn their faces, and we didn't consider him to be worth anything. He certainly has taken upon himself our suffering and carried our sorrows... (Isaiah 53:3-4 GW)

What offers you hope and comfort this Christmas?


My Teacher Hat said...

When I lost a 14-year old student over the summer, one day after she fell ill from sudden-onset juvenile diabetes, I and many others were devastated. At her memorial service, her music pastor sang the song "There is Love (The Wedding Song" -- it was her favorite song. It was joyful and appropriate. On her birthday a month later, her family had a party for her with cake. They wanted her young niece and nephew to remember her in a joyful way. None of this makes any of it easier, but it is inspiring to see the family dealing with it in a positive way.

What feels even more unfair in some ways is when families lose a child who they never got the privilege to know, like Sandra's son did. A teacher I work with just lost his baby to miscarriage. His wife was married previously and had a full-term stillbirth. She was 9 months when they discovered the baby had died inside of her, and she had to wait a week after that until her body went into labor. Their 3-year-old daughter was hard-won; they had to use IVF due to fertility issues. This pregnancy was such a happy surprise for them, one they (especially the wife) felt would at least partially help make up for all the difficulty they've had. So unfair.

You probably recognize who's writing this, Sam, but I want to use my alias (created for the anonymous teacher blog I've made but not yet posted to) to protect the identity of my teacher friend.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Thank you for this post. Perfect timing. My husband and I are preparing for our first 'married' Christmas, and it looks like we will be spending it in support of my husband's mother as her husband is critically ill in the hosptial at present. It is lovely to see stories of people who are so brave as Sandra's family. Christmas is an especially hard time to be sad - you feel you're letting people down if you need to take time out from the party to cry (or maybe that's just me, but I have had a couple of those moments this week).

Sam said...

My Teacher Hat, welcome! A spy told me you were there. Ha!

Rachel, in my experience, "good grief" includes moments of both joy and sorrow; laughter and tears. May you be blessed with both this season -- they will cleanse the emotions and help you and your family heal. Sam

Scriptor Senex said...

Sandra mentioned the idea of asking 'Why me?'. When my son died I found some consolation in meeting others who had lost children and asking 'OK, so why not me?'.