I shared a photo with somone earlier today, and the first thing I said was, "This was taken four days before we found out Dad had brain cancer." The photo had nothing to do with Dad, or his battle with cancer at all.
We learned he had at least six tumors in his brain in the ER two years ago last week. These dates in April will be seared in our brains forever because it changed our lives forever.
I still see pictures and refer to events as "before" and "after." Before we knew. Before we had to go through that as a family. Before we knew hell. Memories flood my brain and heart in formation like soldiers marching . . . BEFORE . . . AFTER . . . BEFORE . . . AFTER ...
"Before" = we were still happy in a carefree way. "After" = we are happy now, but in a different way.
I wonder when that will stop happening.
When does the before and after just become what happened in life?
When will that gaping, great divide be just a crack?
Everyone loses loved ones. It's a part of life. But not everyone must watch what we watched, see what we saw, do what we did, and feel what we felt - and still feel. If I had a dime for the number of times I have screamed at God for not letting my father someday just die of old age, I'd be richer than Trump.
But then again, I wouldn't have learned what I learned, loved how I loved, and seen the light of God in my dad's eyes like I did. I wouldn't have seen the hands of Jesus up close and personal at the end of my own mother's arms caring for her love of over 50 years - and the rest of us at the same time. Dad wouldn't have touched as many lives in the way that he did - by handling what he was handed with such grace - had this not happened. His life would have meant just as much, but fewer people would have seen God in action had this not happened.
In short - more people met God because our family suffered through what it did.
Some people know suffering through the experiences of someone close to them or have hearts for those suffering from afar and feel the pain that way; and some are placed in the middle of the fire and must trust God not to let them burn. These are two very different experiences, and there is seemingly no rhyme or reason to which group you may fall into at some point.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you learn first hand that suffering must happen in order for God's glory to shine through. And it's not fair at all to those who must do the suffering. But God never promised us fair.
One day - someday - it will all make sense to those of us who know God. Until then, we try not to go crazy wondering why - and, instead, place our trust in the one who has a plan.
Today, as I accompany my sweet, good friend to chemotherapy, I am reminded that God, indeed, is in control as I see a glimpse of why I have been through what I have and am now here on this side of the cancer once again.
Being a passenger can be awfully hard; but we are not the driver, so we must quit trying to steer.