Saturday, October 27, 2012

Romans 8.28

Two weeks ago was a strange day in that three people dear to my loved ones died. It seems I go years without attending a funeral and in one day, I see three on the horizon. 

Yesterday, the funeral we attended was for a dear 14-year-old girl. In elementary school you read stories about a young girl who makes friends with her elderly neighbor woman. That was the relationship Alyssa had with my Grandmother. She would walk down to Grandma's door after school, knock lightly or ring the doorbell, and greet my Grandma with her quiet smile, "Do you have any treats today?" Grandma always has something on hand, nothing was different then. She'd invite Alyssa in and the two would enjoy a simple conversation while Alyssa held tight to her treat. Sometimes before leaving she'd ask if there were any treats for her sister. With a hug and a kiss on the top of her head, Grandma would send her off to tend to her homework.

Alyssa had always been petite. She was always quiet. And she always loved cookies.

Alyssa was a girl of few words. She was gentle in spirit and kind to everyone. Yesterday the sanctuary was packed. Young and old. Hundreds of people touched by one life. 

The father performing the service did a fine job. I can't imagine funerals are a favorite of anyone's, especially performing a service for someone so young, but he was genuine in what he had to share and he acknowledged that that's what God expects of us. That we are bound to have questions about these things. Life is hard and confusing and we're not going to get it all. Questions are okay. Questions are good.

He shared that we all had one question that was exactly the same: Why? Why do we have cancer in this world? Why does someone so young and so beautiful with her whole life ahead of her have to be taken so soon? Why does it hurt so much to lose someone? After sharing more examples, he turned the tone around and said, "It's always in the pain and in the hurt that we ask the 'Why?', isn't it?" He went on to explain that while these are appropriate questions and certainly part of the grieving process, but at the same time, we also need to be asking, Why was she so sweet? Why did you bless me with moments and memories with her? He applied it to the simplicity of everyday life: Why the beauty in this sunrise? Why the warmth from the sun? Why the melody in a song? 

This summer has been full of strange and unexpected grief. Grief I didn't even recognize I was experiencing. When the priest shared this concept with everyone present, I started reflecting on the things I have been grieving...

Last July, I was blind-sided with the news that my boss and friend had attempted suicide. I was on holiday in Boston and couldn't wrap my mind around the situation at hand. Never once did anything give me reason to believe he was depressed or unsettled. 

As the story unfolded, my coworkers and I discovered, along with the rest of the world, that it was more than depression. We discovered that for the past two decades the reality we had been living was created by false documents; fraud. Nothing would ever be the same. 

While hundreds of people lost their jobs and thousands of customers may never again see their investments, I am left with the 'Why?'s I was reminded of just yesterday: Why was I allowed six years to be a part of such an incredible community? Why did You place me in a gorgeous building that many days seemed to counter-act the fact that I wasn't crazy about the task at hand? Why was I blessed with not only so many life-long friends, but experiences with them? Why did I get to be a part of a family that had such an impact on our town? Why do I look back on these past two years in particular and have SUCH fond memories? Why did You use those people and those places to BLESS me with so much?

I can't say that I'm necessarily done asking why I lost a job that I had finally had the outlook of a future in, but I can tell you that when I turn the 'Why?'s around and start asking them with a grateful heart, I realize that not only is this not the end of the world, but that I have been overlooking SO many beautiful things that are necessary for me to thank my Savior for. God's using this season to realign my thinking to His Word. I'm starting to think it's not so much of 'everything happens for a reason', as it is 'God will use everything for the good of those who love Him'. Pretty simple truth I so easily lose sight of. 

Romans 8.26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (The Message)

Romans 8.28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a]have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

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