A few days ago I received a note from a friend I first met when we were in the same youth group together many years ago. My friend sent a Facebook message that contained a poignant observation:
In my heart and mind, we are still innocent, carefree teens at the church. However, the reality is that we are now middle-aged, and I am noticing that many of our friends on Facebook are dealing with exceptionally difficult illnesses. Others are losing special friends, mentors, and family members who were at the end of a normal lifespan. It still hurts, as we are such imperfect mortal beings.
There is, my friend adds, a great amount of hurting going on. Who can doubt that this is true? When you are young, you feel invincible. I have always thought this was a good thing, this feeling of being strong and brave and able to conquer any obstacle, because it gives to the young the courage to attempt great things. Someone has remarked that it is a pity that youth is wasted on the young. By the time we gain the wisdom that comes from experience, we have lost that innocent and carefree spirit.
Sometimes we gain that wisdom from our children. We have some dear friends who serve very effectively as missionaries in Alaska. A year and a half ago the wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It came as a shock because she is young and to all outward appearances had seemed healthy. But cancer is no respecter of persons.
Recently our friends have received the sad news that no further treatment is possible. The wife is now starting hospice care. We know about their situation because they have kept their friends updated via Facebook and Twitter. The husband and wife have both spoken openly about the own journey through fear, anger, and doubt. Yet down deep their faith has remained steadfast. I was struck by two messages that appeared on their Twitter account recently. The husband wrote that "the stress is high on the family these days." Then there was this about their six-year-old daughter:
On a positive note. A while back Audrey stated that she thought Heaven was great place to go so she decided not to "break up" with Jesus :)
Note the smiley face at the end of that sentence. What truth there is in that little symbol. In times of great crisis we discover what we really believe. For our dear friends, coming to the great moment of truth, they smile through their tears because they know that they know that they know that God is good.
Even in hospice.
Audrey is right. Why "break up" with Jesus now?
You can read the rest of the message online.