Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.
Proverbs 14:10 NIV
“I’m just angry,” my sister-in-law said as she was describing her feelings three weeks after her husband’s death. Raised in a charismatic church, where modern-day miracles were not only prayed for, but expected, she had come up short.
While her husband’s leukemia had been in a state of remission far longer than the doctors ever expected, it had come back full force. The family physician’s best guess gave him one to two months. He died two days later on Easter Sunday.
Who wouldn’t be angry?
It seems Mary and Martha were a bit ticked when Jesus delayed his trip to their home after he learned their brother Lazarus was dying. Martha, so anxious to tell Jesus what she thought, went out to meet him. “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”
My sister-in-law feels the same way. Where was God when she prayed, begged and bargained to have her husband healed?
There was the remission. And, even though doctors had their doubts, a stem cell transplant and white blood cells harvested from his sister did make a difference. He had almost four years of living and loving past the point where medical science would have typically predicted the end. The two of them still had opportunities to share God’s word, to make amends, to be strong in the struggle and to escape the rigorous rounds of treatment through their shared passion of making music. The Bible says our days are numbered and, within that number, God set aside time to bring them closer to each other and closer to Him. But in the end, the time came for her husband to slip away. He went peacefully, surrounded by his family. And in some ways, that seems to be the ultimate healing of the heavenly kind.
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV)
But here she is, my sister-in-law, all alone and angry. Jesus knew she would feel that way. He experienced anger when he tossed the temple tables. He was sad, and even wept with those who thought they had lost Lazarus. And when the disciples fell asleep at a time he needed them to stay up and pray, he knew the hurt of being alone. So I think we are safe to believe, He will not leave my sister-in-law to resolve the anger, bitterness, sadness and pain all by herself. Jesus loves her, this I know, for the Bible tells us so.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 NLT
If you are experiencing similar feelings…hurt, sad, mad, confused…lay it down before the Lord. He alone is our rescue, our help, our hope, our healing. Where else can we go but to the Lord?
Just this morning as she was cleaning out some of her husband’s stuff, someone she doesn’t even know, sent her a card with this message:
“We give back to you O God, those whom You gave to us. You did not lose them when You gave them to us and we do not lose them by their return to you. Your dear Son has taught us that life is eternal and love cannot die. So death is only a horizon and a horizon is only the limit of our sight. Open our eyes to see more clearly, and draw us closer to You that we may know that we are nearer our loved ones, who are with You. You have told us that You are preparing a place for us; prepare us also for that happy place that where You are we may also be always, O dear Lord of life and death.”
~William Penn (1644-1718)
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