Yesterday I read on Facebook a post that a friend had shared from an organization called, “hersmile.” I know of this non-profit because I remember the tragedy that rooted its existence. In Martinez, CA in 2014, an 8th grade girl was accidentally killed by a train. It was tragic and it profoundly affected the Martinez and Pleasant Hill communities.
I did not know the family well. I knew them because they were an active soccer family. As my daughters only played soccer for two seasons, I did not know the family well. But many close to me did. The story of that day still haunts me and I ache for the family.
Yesterday, the mom of the girl posted about her daughters upcoming class of 2018 graduation. Her profound words hit me hard. She simply told the truth. She wanted to be there for the graduation and celebrate with the friends of her daughter, but the pain was too much. She will celebrate, but it will be in a way that is healing to her and not wounding. To me, that is Brave Living.
I read her post, and I cried. Remembering that day all those years ago and the pain that hit so close to home. When you have children, the pain or thought of losing a child, is incomprehensible. And yet, over the years, I have watched from a distance this remarkable family make beauty out of ashes with their amazing foundation, “hersmile.”
Anyways, as I was doing my bible study this morning, this post still sat with me. Here is my reflection this morning to the question: These verses (2 Corinthians 5:1-5, 7) describe the ache we so often feel. What do they reveal about God’s plan for us?
Gods plan is grander. His plan is eternal. This world is filled with hurt, suffering, longing, jealousy, and aches. It is a conscious choice to see the good. To hear the birds’ squall, to see the sun glistening off the lake: It is our choice to enjoy the breath and see people as expressions of God. He has placed his image on all of us. He has blessed us with animals, beauty, trees, oxygen, and water. Life here is hard and uncomfortable. Anger and strife, pain and grief are present. And yet, we get to choose to live in that pain, or to acknowledge it, feel it, but choose to enjoy the future hope that God has promised us. As Dena Betti, who lost her precious daughter Jenna four years ago, said in a post, ‘the pain doesn’t go away because the love doesn’t go away.’
Her grief is unimaginable to me. She doesn’t blindly will it away. That would be futile. However she chooses to embrace good in the pain and grief. Her foundation, hersmile, helps those who are grieving. Her life is scarred with the loss of her child. But her hope for the future drives her forward. I find that overwhelmingly beautiful. I am awed by her bravery. I tear up thinking about it.
Why God did she have to go through this? Why God did those parents that just lost their children in all these school shootings have to go through this? Is there an answer that will ever satisfy? No. The pain from the death of a child is deep and beyond words. But still, God. What else is there? If we can’t put our hope on the unseen, on the beauty where all will be made right, how do we make it? How do we survive this world without that belief?
I know friends of mine feel God is an absurd lie. A fantasy. The bible, a false fable. But without that hope to hold onto, I don’t know how to face this ugly world.
Yes there is love and joy on this earth. There are happy reminders that life is worth living. But we all die. We all end our time here. In one hundred years from now, only a few will still be here breathing. What then? Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life. All that come to him will find rest, peace, and eternity. What if that is the truth?
Truth, unlike Trump, does not waver. It simply is and stands strong on its own. Christians hold firm to the belief that the bible is the truth. Maybe we are wrong. But what if we are right?
This life is too painful to place my hope in. There is more. There absolutely must be. When I see the remarkable will of people who live in agony; when I read about survivors of the Holocaust, or slavery, I’m reminded of the unbreakable will of the human spirit. It is stamped with God. All humans are stamped with the image of God.
I believe God made us all. He loves us all. When we come to Christ we are set free in our hearts to live the life he desires us to live. Engaging with his masterpiece for a purpose. I step out only hinging on the belief that God will guide my steps. I step and he uses all things for his glory. I error and he follows with mercy and grace. Are there consequences for my errors? Absolutely! But grace nevertheless. Undeserved grace.
Please dear God help guide my hands and feet this day to do the will of you. May my time be used to enjoy your goodness and to ooze you to others. May my presence, even without words, shine you for others to see and experience. May my actions glorify you. May my hope be in you. In the difficulties of today, may I remember you and the purpose you have called me to.
Lord Jesus be with the Betti family as they go through this graduation season. Surround them with your love and peace even in the midst of their grief. Thank you God for tenderly guarding Jenna and her family and holding them close to you.