Last week, I lost a friend of mine from church. I met her after her husband died thirty years ago. She lived nearly as long without him as she did with him. A great sense of dry humor, style, and devotion to the church would sum up a description of her. She lived alone until she died, unfortunately from a fall in her home. The women at church all joked that she would not have been happy with such an unglamorous departure. Through the years, I had many opportunities to attend Bible study with her, hashing out the great mysteries of the Truth and benefitting from her wisdom. On the surface, she was a steady as you go kind of gal, but the closer you got to her, a deep sadness bordering on bitterness would escape on occasion.
At her funeral, I learned that she had not only lost one child over 50 years ago, but lost another child as well. The one child had been very ill but apparently the other child died shortly after birth. She had chosen not to reveal all of this to me, and others, for her own personal reasons. Now, as I look back, I see those moments of darkness that I sensed within her were, in my opinion, totally justified.
Never a poor me type, she forged ahead daily involved in whatever the Lord put in her path. She was a great example to me. Her darkness was neatly packaged in such a way that she could carry on, under the load, and still arrive at her destination. Many of us have that same void, darkness, emptiness, or lack from some event in our lives. Even as we trust the Lord, believe Him for all things, and seek to follow Him, some of our baggage is actually empty but heavier than anything we carry.
I thought of the ten plagues of the Israelites as I thought of my friend’s life’s example. She was one who kept keeping on, as the saying goes, never taking her eyes off the Lord. I wonder if the average Jewish housewife was aware of all the trouble around her? Was she so absorbed in her own personal struggles that the glory of the final deliverance of an entire people was lost on her? Did she groan to obtain the blood to paint on the door posts after another hard day of just trying to bear up under her burdens? We know from scripture that there was a whole lotta groaning going on when they finally loaded up the donkey and headed out to an unknown destination.
It’s so normal for us to focus closely on our own trials, narrowing our focus to the pain at hand and being oblivious to the world around us. When deliverance finally comes, we may be so exhausted and weary from the fight that we have nothing left within ourselves to enjoy the blessing ahead. Scary,thought, eh?
Currently, I am really struggling with a deeply painful situation in my life. I’m wondering: what I am missing here? If God protected the Israelites from the plagues around them, leaving them unscathed from the frogs, disease, and death God brought into the lives of the Egyptians, where am I living if I am affected by all these things? If I am in the camp of His people, and the blood of Christ is clearly displayed over the door of my soul, how is it that these terrible evils are affecting me?
The leaven of the sin of people around you can be like a plague. Yet, sometimes the sinners appear to be unaffected by the consequences and you have to bear the load. No, you didn’t ask for this. The sinner drinks his poison and you become ill from the infusion. How does this work out in life?
I think my friend lived a wonderful example of never living in WhyLand, which as I have discovered once you get a reservation there you’ve got to work really hard to leave. WhyLand sucks the joy out of us; in our doubts we may consider thinking or doing something really detrimental to our well being. As me how I know…
As the Jews grumbled, in Egypt and along their path of deliverance, they witnessed the miracles of God on their behalf. Still, they were oppressed from outside and within. It was so bad that a whole generation had to pass away before the Lord would let them enter into the final blessing place.
I have no answer why my trial has persisted for years. I have no answer why my friend had to lose 2 babies. She finished her race, and did it well. Is it so simple an answer to believe that God allows us to be afflicted to be able to comfort others, to show His glory in the lives of a faithful struggler, or to reveal His complete authority over all creation?
It’s not about me. Or, you either. I want to proceed forward on this path, accompanied by all the weary travelers who drag their empty baggage, broken hearts, and unanswered questions to an eventual resting place of blessing and joy. Funerals bring you to the reality of what we’re doing here in the first place. Bringing God the glory was the mission of the Jews in bondage and the same mission applies to those of us who believe. Our brokenness is our credentials to approach the dictator who enslaves souls with the request: “Let my people go.” My trials and failures are witness of the afflictions of this world but how I bear them is totally Jesus.
Let’s not get blind to the miracles around us that the Lord is continually providing for us. Don’t omit that encouragement to the soul stumbling under their burden. Stay off the WhyLand detour and continue following The One Who is Ever faithful. It’s not about where you start. It’s about where you finish.