Friday, October 31, 2008

When it hurts really bad...

I just started reading through my testimony again and I stopped when I read about my favorite cat and one of my best friends who died when I was High School. I haven't thought of him in years it seems... and so as I recalled my time with him, I just started crying again. I still remember watching TV and him walking up next to me with the expressed intent of having me rub his belly. He would just flop over onto his side and voila, a good 30 minutes of belly rubbing follows. Then I remember the "green bean" incident, when there was a green bean on my chair and he wanted it for some reason. So all we see is this black arm sticking out from under the table, trying to hook the bean with his claw, and he eventually gets it. Mom was laughing hysterically, and everyone else was laughing hard too. That incident is famous in our family. Then I remember the gut-wrenching time when he was dying and died, when I would sleep in David's room because that's where he was staying. I cried long and hard during that time. Mom told me one day that she believes he was born on my birthday. We don't know what day he was born, but her point was simply that me and him were so closely bonded that it really would have made a lot of sense for us to have been born on the same day. I really don't know if that's true, but I've remembered that comment for years. I remember the last time I saw him on earth, when I was in the kitchen rushing to school and I patted him on the head, knowing very well that there was a chance he wouldn't be there when I got home that night, and it turned out that way. The veterinarians euthanized him, because his pain was substantial and chances of recovery non-existent. I cry even now thinking about it. I seriously question how I'm going to survive when any of my close friends die. I think it helps a lot that many of my friends are saved and so I know for sure they're going to heaven just as surely as I am. But I wonder about him; I hope that he is with You, because he was a friend to me and he helped teach me about love, teach me how to love. Maybe you can call this wild anthropomorphizing, but he was wise after a fashion, much more so than many people I know (like me).

Anyway, the answer to friends dying is very, very simple; God's grace is sufficient for me, for His power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 12:9). I can't have all my friends be saved, because Jesus was a friend of sinners and tax collectors. As a Christian and a follower of Jesus, I am called to befriend sinners. It is nigh unavoidable that at least one of them will die without salvation, and I don't have the power to change that. Even if I were the greatest evangelist ever, that only means that I would know a multitude more sinners than I do now, and many more of them would die too. The only answer there is, and could *ever* be, is the grace of God; it is the love of God that keeps you and comforts you when you suffer a pain that feels unbearable. When you feel like it's a weight crushing you to death, you're despairing of life itself, totally abandoned and without hope in the world, it's the power of God on the inside that sustains you (2 Cor 4:8-9). As I say often, "Jesus, you are the answer."

When pain overwhelms you to the point of death, Jesus is the answer. He will give you grace to survive, and He will set you free.

I am glad that none of my close friends have died (ever). They all have many righteous deeds and many years of fullness, life, love and good works ahead of them, and I greatly look forward to seeing each and every one of them walk in their life callings down the path to maturity. When they are done, then let each depart to be with the Lord in peace, just like I will depart when my deeds are complete. I'm completely willing to release my friends once they've finished all their appointed tasks. And from all the prophetic words I've heard for them or given to them, I know it'll be awhile before that happens. :)

Nevertheless, I know that if/when one of my close friends die, I am absolutely certain that the grace of God will be sufficient for me on that day. The power of God hidden on the inside will strengthen me to stand in that day and to not faint with grief. Some might say, "That's easy to say, harder to live through." I totally agree. Without the grace of God, I think it's very fair to question how I (or anyone else) can emotionally survive such events. I honestly cannot imagine how non-believers make it through such events. I really truly can't. I just know it would be so very, very hard. I've sometimes pondered with my friend Iris how non-believers make it through life with all the seasons of pain and difficulty that come. I don't know how I would make it without prayer; I can't even imagine life without prayer anymore. It would just be so horrible...

The whole point of grace, though, is that I'm not about "welling up" a particular force of will, or gritting my teeth and toughing out the pain of a loved one dying. That's totally foreign or even contrary to what grace is. The grace of God is the grace that *comes from* God, and therefore I'm just as capable today of declaring that *God* will give me grace as I will be when the day comes that I need it, because it is God Himself who will empower me to stand.

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