Last Wednesday I called a friend of mine. It wasn’t really a good time for her to talk then, so I promised I would call again later.
She and I became fast friends as freshmen in college. Our dorm rooms were right across the hall from each other. We did a lot of laughing and learning and sharing secrets in that dorm hall.
Marriage, children, careers, divorce, time and miles have all played some part in us not being as close now as we were back then. Plus, you’re just never as close to someone again once you give up sharing a bathroom and a hall telephone (imagine that, we went away to college without cell phones!).
A couple of months ago I received one of those “it’s-been-ages-and-how-the-heck-are-you” emails from her that we trade every few years or so. She told me in that email that she has cancer.
I couldn’t seem to get her out of my mind earlier this week, which is what prompted me to call her. I tried to call her a second time on Thursday. Alas, it was still not a good time to talk. I told her not to worry, I would keep trying to call until we finally hit the right time. I hung up the phone again not really knowing any updates on her condition. I didn’t know how she was feeling or what she was thinking or anything.
Even though I knew nothing about her current condition, I sensed a great burden to pray for her. I know we’re not that close any more, but suddenly she became the only friend I could think about.
I went to bed that night unable to stop tears from dripping down my face. I prayed for her family. She’s a single mom with four sons. The youngest is still in high school. She teaches music to elementary school children. I prayed for them. I laid there thinking how it just didn’t seem right. I mean, I know death is imminent for all of us. But why this way? Not that I have any kind of death wish, but why did it have to be her instead of me? I mean, there are only two people in my office (including me), I don’t have any children, and I do have a loving husband. If I were dying, there would be far fewer lives affected by it.
We may never really know why suffering and grief gets distributed the way it does on this earth, but I do know that I cannot waste it. I must find a way to see the glory that God can use it for. It’s not always easy.
When I woke up Friday, I still felt the burden. And kept praying.
Then I began to read other blogs. Ones I read frequently. The first post I read was about a woman teaching her son that life wasn’t fair and if it was, he (and I) would have a lot less than we do and others would have a lot more. She wrote on about going to a medical facility to have blood drawn for a non-life threatening condition and being surrounded by a waiting room full of bald people waiting for chemo. All she could do afterwards was cry fierce tears over the unfairness of it all. And there is nothing we can do about it but trust God.
I cried some more. And prayed.
Then I read a second blog post. It was the one year anniversary of the birth and death of a child. They knew before the little girl was born that she would not survive, but they chose to trust God and not terminate the pregnancy. Apparently they planted a tree in the little girl’s memory and now after a year, it needed to be pruned. The mother wrote how about difficult that experience was for her, even though she knew that God tells us He has to do it in order for us to grow. Pruning hurts.
I cried some more. And I thought about pruning. I had always thought of pruning as something that was done to each individual. Everyone needs a little pruning of their own braches in order to grow. It wasn’t until all of this that I saw pruning as maybe something that happens to the human race as a whole. I mean, maybe some lives are plucked so that others will grow.
I went to the next blog and read on. This one talked about speaking at the memorial service of a long time friend. The service was for a woman who had won a temporary battle with cancer and through it inspired other woman to truly pray in faith. The cancer returned later and God took her home. The speaker at the service talked about the woman who reached out for the hem of Jesus’ garment, and was healed. She went on to say that even with that miraculous healing, that woman still eventually died from something else. We all do. The best we will ever get in this world in just a hem of healing. The real, true healing comes after we leave this earth.
OK. So I cried and cried and cried some more wondering, why is everything I’m encountering focused on death??? I grieved over it all the entire day.
That day was Good Friday.
Now it is Saturday. The dark, dark days in between Jesus’ death and His resurrection.
My friend with cancer; like I said, we’re not as close as we once were. The blog posts I read; I have never met any of the writers personally. I don’t really know any of these people well and yet, I am grieving for them.
I thought about what I would do if they were all my close friends.
Jesus is my close friend. I hate what they did to him.
But I love what He did for me. He came back. He brought life for all of us that are grieving.
There is hope.