I am not a happy bunny right now. We have just returned from a visit to my brother in Spain. The week before we arrived he had been transferred to a cancer hospice in Malaga. None of his friends knows whether this a permanent move, or just a period of respite care to put him back on his feet.
He is looking very fragile, very thin, very cancer-ravaged. He has good days and bad days, times when he seems a little lost to himself, other times when he is his usual rude and irreverent self. Whatever…it all spells out a gradual decline. He is hoping he will still be around for his birthday in October, but others aren’t so sure.
Seeing it all happen and being so very far away leaves me feeling very helpless. Tack on to that my sister’s very recent death and it’s not just helplessness that I’m dealing with, but often hopelessness too.
I know that, as Christians, we are never without hope, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel it sometimes.
Yesterday at the church meeting people had opportunities to share testimonies. Many of the folk have just got back from a church holiday. A friend of ours spoke about his mother’s illness and how they thought that there would be an operation involved, and how there had been a dramatic improvement in her condition. The operation wasn’t needed and it opened to door to praying together.
Why, I wondered, do these things happen to other people’s families, but not mine?
Another friend earlier on in the week had tried to encourage me with the words, “Everyone dies some time.” But they don’t! Many of the friends I know may have family who are seriously unwell, they may have spells in hospital, they may fear that the end is near for them, but each and every time, there seems to be a dramatic recovery involved. That does not seem to be the way for my family. It feels like everything is unfair. I want to rejoice with them in their victories but it feels like it is all being soured by my own family’s deaths and illnesses.
Why are these things happening to me and my family? Why does it seem like I am being singled out? Why isn’t some of the death and suffering of the last few months being spread around rather than just piled one me? I have never been so up-close and personal to constant hurt and sorrow before.
God’s answer? “Why not you?”
There are some that think that faith in God, a vibrant relationship, is like some wonderful vaccination against hurt and injury. That’s what we tell the world sometimes, that if they come to Jesus he will sort out all their problems and life will be so much better. There is a truth in that – life is better, problems do get sorted, but there is no immunity, no wrapping up in cotton wool. We are not untouched by sorrow. .
I know that through my sorrow, God is present.