For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
One of my very best friends has survived cancer twice in the past two years. She has survived a heart attack and a stroke, both events happening while in the hospital after yet another surgery. Then, about two weeks ago, she woke up to discover her husband, who had apparently been in good health, died in his sleep.
My question to God is, “Why her? Why now? Is this part of some huge divine plan?” and “Why not me?” I have no answers. Am I to trust and not feel any emotion in the face of this injustice? Is this just the way of nature and not some lesson in sanctity?
Then, two weeks ago on a Friday, I read these words by Abraham Joshua Heschel: “In Jewish tradition, dying in one’s sleep is called a kiss of God, and dying on the Sabbath is a gift that is merited by piety. For the pious person, my father once wrote, it is a privilege to die.”
Again, how do I comfort my friend? Do I simply sit with her and say nothing?
I am brought to the Book of Job: “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:1, 1:8, 2:3).
An upright man who lost absolutely everything, and I mean everything, yet he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).
God knew we would hurt and struggle greatly in this life, some more than others. Jesus, His only Son died on a cross, misunderstood, even hated for the message of salvation that He brought. We can look to Him and will find that anything we suffer, He has also suffered. We will find peace and comfort in Him, no matter how great our pain.
Lord, only You know me, the real me—Your fickle, sometimes angry, ever questioning servant. Thank You for Your patience. Comfort my friend in her grief, and stay with us. Help our unbelief. Help us grow in wisdom, grace, faith and love. Amen
Midwife-turned-author, Stephanie Sorensen seems to swim seamlessly through cultures, religions, superstitions, raw fear and ecstasy to the first breath of a new baby. She invites her readers to join her, taking us on a tour to the innermost workings of another world in her first book, Ma Doula: A Story Tour of Birth. She lives among one of the most diverse populations on earth and has given birth to a book that takes us on a bizarre journey, giving us a rare, intimate glimpse into her daily life. With graphic prose we enter with her into the Land of Birth. Midwife, mother, grandmother, doula, world traveler and author, Sorensen lives and breathes birth. She has five children scattered around the world, grandchildren, and over a thousand babies she calls her own, even when she cannot pronounce their names correctly. After writing three books about birth, she has begun the next phase of her writing career: A memoir about death. Stay tuned.