Many of you know what's been going on with Robyn and Bryan and their babies, Asher and Titus. This morning, Robyn and Bryan came to church (it had been a long time since they were able to do that because of being on bed rest, etc.). Watching these two yesterday at Titus' funeral and then again this morning just blew me away. I mean, I knew they were strong, but really? They are the perfect portrayal of "suffering well."
Paul says in Philippians 3 that "7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."
With so much hurt in this world, it's so easy to slip into that selfish mindset of "Why?" forgetting that we are such a small piece of the larger puzzle. Our pastor told us about the analogy of the stain-glass window. We have our noses pressed up to it and can vaguely see the joyful, lighter colors and the gloomier, darker colors but only when we step back to see the entire design can we truly appreciate how God uses ALL of the colors and moods to create a beautiful picture that glorifies Him.
My sister-in-law, Erin, who is in Zambia wrote this today:
God took Emma today. Emma was 14 years old. She was born with aids and she had tb. She had ensiphylitis and meningitis. She was so, so so sick. She was beautiful and had so much personality...She loved for me to sing the lord is my shepherd to her. Her sponsors in the states loved her very deeply and when they saw her this summer they carried her little frail body to participate in the activities that the other kids were doing. They prayed fervently for her healing.
A friend reminded to me tonight that Emma did not die alone. She had a voice and god heard her cry of help and used family legacy to give her a childhood she would never have had. He took her, an orphan, and gave her a family. 100 children and 20 mommies who love her deeply. she was loved and she loved them. My Ellie prayed for her every night when we got back to zambia and saw how sick she was...Her sweet precious little body is no longer broken. She is with her saviour. I got to the hospital not long after she passed. It was awful, tragic and painful. I cant really put into words yet what it was like. That place is AWFUL. There is a stinch that you never forget. It emanates death. The realities of a life in a third world country being ravaged by aids and extreme poverty hit you hard in the gut. We were in the parking lot sending the great aunt home and talking to our family legacy zambian staff and There were two other women who ran out wailing. They had lost someone and were crying out in their native language why me, why is this happening to us? When Emma was in the picu, children were dying everyday. There would be beds filled and then emptied, not with healing, but death. We got there and her auntie was weeping. We gathered around her and held her and cried. I was overcome even more for the other moms and aunties that were there. You could see their eyes wondering if death was coming for them next. Her little body was still warm. But she was at peace and she wasn't begging me to take her home and to not leave her there. She was ready to go home... He did. I am heart broken. And I am so beyond thankful that she is home with her shepherd. I am so sad that the effects of this sinful world ravaged her precious body. My heart is so heavy tonight and i can't keep from crying. My god brings restoration. That is the phrase that keeps coming to my mind. God has restored her body, she is whole. She died with silver toe nail polish on her toes and i imagine she is dancing on them now, because she can.
I know that God is affectionately embracing sweet Emma and baby Titus. I had this beautiful picture in my mind right when Titus died that God was just sweetly holding his little body and giving him tons of kisses. Like Erin said, our God is a God of restoration. He is good and does good, even though we only see the smallest pieces of the stain-glass window. Life is hard and at times, it really sucks! However, I have to constantly remind myself in days like today (reading Erin's email and mourning the death of baby Titus) to rest in God's providence and know that He is bigger. He is better. He has a beautiful plan. He loves us more than we can even imagine. These are the truths that I hold onto.
So let hope rise,
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light,
And every eye will see
Jesus, our God,
Great and mighty to be praised.
God of all days,
Glorious in all of Your ways.
Your majesty, the wonder and grace,
In the light of Your name.
We will shout for your glory.
We will shout forth your praise.
*This is my new fave song (#1 on my playlist that's playing now): With Everything by Hillsong. We sang it at church this morning:)