One of my coworkers has to deal with his wife passing away, suddenly. They are barely 40, and he has two young, low-functioning autistic children.
When such tsouris happens, we have to think about why. Is this a judgment from God? Is it an attack from the enemy? Is it just plain lousy luck?
I choose to believe that it is all of those things. God judged Adam and Eve, so yes- living in a fallen and cursed world where stuff happens is a judgment from God. And since the enemy attacks those who do God’s work on the earth, yes- it may have been that (although neither of them are Believers.) And does it just happen to people because these things just happen to people? Yes, of course.
God is in control of everything, but that doesn’t mean He does control everything. He is not a micro-manager. We live in a fallen and cursed world, and we sin. Many times, I would like to think most of the times, we sin because of our nature and not because we want to. I have said this many times:
I used to be a sinner that rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins. Bottom line: I am still a sinner.
But that’s not everyone, and where sin is concerned, I believe there is always, always, always…collateral damage. The sinner isn’t the only one who suffers. In this physical plane of existence, we all suffer the sins of those around us.
Jews suffered the sins of Hitler (along with a lot of other religions); Jim Jones was a mass murderer, and the masses he killed (his own followers) suffered because of his sin; thousands suffered from the sins of the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center. I could go on and on and on- just read the newspaper. Every single day, hundreds (if not thousands) of people who are innocent suffer because of the sins of others.
If you walk through a cow field, don’t expect to reach the other side with clean shoes. No matter how carefully you watch your step, you will step into something, sooner or later. And probably more than once.
That’s how life is in a cursed and fallen world. It sucks to be here, but there’s no where else to go right now. Of course, we could be with the Lord, but if you want to serve the Lord you can’t really do it when you are with Him- His work isn’t finished here on the earth so we who serve Him must remain here. That was the problem Shaul had (Philippians 1:21), and it’s the same one we all have, too- we want to be with the Lord but the Lord needs us serving Him here.
The good news is this: we who are Believers will be with the Lord, and when we are it will be for all eternity. The lousy lot we are stuck with here on earth is temporary. Yakov (James) says it is like a mist; this life that we suffer through. It seems to take forever, but it will be such a short memory throughout eternity we will barely even notice it. It will be as nothing once we are with the Lord, so suffer through it and be patient. As Shaul advises: keep your eyes on the prize.
Be compassionate, be loving, expect to have problems. You will. But don’ let them get you down. There will be people who harm you, physically and emotionally. Don’t let them hurt your spirit.
There will be people who hurt themselves, people you care about, and it will make you suffer to see them hurting themselves. Try to help them by showing them how much you care, and by treating them with understanding, but still maintaining a firm resolution to let them know that what they are doing to themselves is unacceptable, and that it hurts you. Ultimately, it is their choice to change or remain as they are, just as it is our choice to suffer with them or leave them to their own devices. Even Shaul, who said without love he is nothing, gave up on some people at times and had nothing further to do with them.
We all make choices, whether we want to or not; for instance, abstaining is not making a decision one way or the other, but it is, in and of itself, a decision. We always have a choice, and we always make a choice.
And we will be accountable for the choices we make. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. Get with the program.
I feel for my co-worker, I can’t begin to understand the stresses he is feeling. I am glad we work for a compassionate and family-oriented company who will work with him during this devastating time in his life. I also wonder how I will deal with the loss of Donna, if she should go first. I don’t think anyone who knows of someone suffering the loss of a loved one doesn’t immediately reflect on their losses, too. Life and death are natural to us; in fact, it’s to be expected, and even though we all know everyone will die sooner or later (hopefully later), it still feels like a punch in the stomach when it happens to someone we care about.
The worst thing there is, to me, is losing a loved one who has refused to accept Messiah Yeshua- that is the real loss. It’s bad enough losing the person’s company, but to know what that person is going to have to deal with when the Acharit haYamim (End Days) are done and the final judgment comes to us all, well- that is the most painful part of all.
The best thing to remember when someone close to you suffers a loss is that you need to let them know you are there for them, especially since everyone else is probably shoving their own losses down the poor persons throat. That’s what we do: we share our grief with people who are grieving, in the hope that we make them feel less alone. Trust me- they don’t feel as alone in their grief anywhere near as much as they feel like telling you to shut up!
Pray for people who are suffering, hold their hand, comfort them with silence, and when you talk with them tell them how much you loved and will also miss the one they lost. Honor the life of the lost person, and don’t share your losses. This person has enough loss- they don’t need yours, too. Talk with them normally because what they need is normality.
The loss of a loved one is hard, it is different, and it tears you out of reality. We need to comfort people suffering a loss by bringing reality back, just enough to make them feel comfortable, just by being a friend who is there.
Stuff happens; however, knowing that doesn’t make it feel any better when it does. All I can say is thank God I have God to help me though it.