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joy and pain

When we were losing my mom to cancer two summers ago I remember getting on facebook and thinking that life still went on for everyone else.  I wasn’t upset about it- it was just an observation that I had at the time.  I was taking her for chemo, and my good friend was going to the beach for vacation;  I was looking for something – anything- that she could eat and hold down, and another friend was eating chick-fil-a;  I was hanging out with my sisters at the hospital texting each other across the room so mom wouldn’t hear us (though she did yell at us to stop texting about her!) and another friend was washing their car.  This is life – people come into the world and leave it each day.  We have day after day of routine and life-as-usual, but even as we are doing that someone else is dealing with a crisis that changes their world forever. 
This does not just apply to tragedy.  I remember Shawn’s cousin saying to me on our wedding day, “Funny, this is such an important day in your life, but to the rest of us it is just another day!”  I thought it was a strange thing to say at the time, but have thought that several times since as I have gone to weddings!
Some days are filled with both of these things.  Yesterday was one of those days.  When I awoke I was excited to read the blogs of friends in Sudan and hear firsthand about the activities surrounding South Sudan’s birth day!  It was exciting to hear about the dancing celebrations from people who have spent their entire lives waiting for this day.  It was amazing to see signs giving God the glory and relying on a hope that comes from him!  It was history in the making kind of day – in a good way!

Then later in the day I got one of those phone calls that you never want to get.  A wonderful young man from our Compelled Church went missing (and presumably drowned) while kayaking with his girlfriend at camp.  At this time his body is still missing and shock is settled in to everyone.  He was a sophomore at college – a brand new Christian this year.  God had cleared the way for him to meet people who would lead him to Christ in what seemed like a random way, but as I look back I can see His loving hands in the whole thing.  Anthony was a different person yesterday than he was a year ago.  He loved God in a real and pure way, and he had overcome (and was overcoming) many obstacles in his life and in his spiritual journey.  To watch him was at times frustrating and at times amazing.  He was a young man who had become full of hope and dreams for a future – one that included serving Jesus somehow. 

And I wonder…why?  Why, Lord?  I know he is with you now.  But why so short?  Why now?  Why when he was on the cusp of learning to live for you?  We were so excited when he decided to work at a Christian camp this summer and had been praying for amazing things in his life.  I know that You are God and your plan is good – but I don’t understand this one at all. 
Then his girlfriend wrote the words of a song (Anthony LOVED music) and I wept as I remembered:  “All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing- I have a reason to worship.”  I trust you.  You will be glorified in all of this somehow, Lord.  And Anthony is certainly singing and playing guitar with you now in ways that I would never want to take back from him.
Meanwhile life goes on…we will eat dinner, play the piano, weed the garden, go  on vacation... and life will never be quite as we knew it before.  
 How I can’t wait for heaven!!!  


  1. Heather, we are so sorry to hear about Anthony. You are right, the Lord has His plans and even if we don't understand, His wisdom is perfect and He is always good. Praying that you feel His comfort and experience His grace.


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