When life doesn’t seem fair, it can be hard to keep the perspective that God knows what He’s doing. When events and circumstances seem to pile up inequity and loss, trusting the Lord becomes challenging. The struggle to understand pain and suffering can be overwhelming. The past month I’ve experienced a repeated lesson. An ever-increasing revelation that life is precious. Fragile. Frail. A vapor. And that I have no control over it. I am a shadow.
It started when my mom experienced heart failure from takotsubo cardiomyopathy. I watched, terrified, as my most trusted mentor and beloved friend struggled to catch her breath thru the pressure and pain of her heart giving out. There are people in life you just don’t expect to lose. My mom is one of them. The realization that her next heart beat is not guaranteed was an incredibly painful truth. Coming to grips with the fragility of her life has been a lesson in humility and trust. That I am not God. I don’t hold life in the palm of my hand like He does.
Then, mere weeks later, my daughter smashed her head on the concrete, sustaining a concussion. I watched my bright, energetic girl turn lethargic and unintelligible in the blink of an eye. During physical and mental tests, she had slow responses, lost her dexterity, was unable to remember details or how to spell her own name. Witnessing my 7 year-old strapped to a CT machine to check for brain bleeding was by far the worst parental experience of my life. I know it pales in comparison to what some parents deal with, but it was rougher hammering home of the same lesson for me. I don’t have control. I’m not in the driver’s seat. Not only is my mom’s life not guaranteed, my daughter’s isn’t either. I take for granted that my kids will lead long, healthy lives. But it’s a fallacy to think somehow I’m promised that.
Finally, I learned yesterday that one of the great teachers of my life had suddenly passed away. Someone who poured into me her energy, humor, and encouragement. Who taught me many more lessons than I could possibly recount, and whose influence is present every day I teach. Recovering from a fall & broken bones, she developed blood clots which burst, ultimately leading to her death less than a day later. Senseless. Unfathomable. For the third time in just a few weeks I’m faced with the harsh reality that life is incredibly frail. That it is gone in an instant. None of us are promised tomorrow.
I’ve dealt with sudden loss before. With the searing pain of not getting to say goodbye because someone you love is, in a blink, gone. Attempting to wrap my finite mind around such an infinite problem seems futile and frustrating. Yet God keeps coming back to this reminder of the precious gift that is life. That no relationship is protected or untouchable by the shadow of death. Mother, daughter, friend…each is but a vapor. A wisp that appears for a moment and then vanishes away. It’s so easy to forget. Such a simple thing to get caught up in the daily chore of living that we fail to grasp the eternal truth that we’re all dying. We busy ourselves in vain. Holding on to things that are temporal and fleeting instead of focusing on what’s real. What is truth. What is eternal. I’m as guilty as the next person. My focus is scattered, busy and overwhelmed by the things of this earth. I need the perspective of heaven. Of eternity. Of Jesus.
And now Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.