Hi everyone, Rob here.
This afternoon I’m taking a funeral for a friend whose life was tragically cut short by Motor Neuron Disease. She was musically gifted, full of life and humour and her faith shone brightly even though she has suffered great tragedy in her life. This evening I fly to Christchurch to be with my mum who is waiting on an operation to remove a suspected tumour from her brain. Today this blog isn’t written from theory but real life. What does it mean to have faith in the face of grief and hardship?
As is common in these situations practical considerations came first. Should I fly down? When? Do I get someone else to do the funeral? What about Sunday’s sermon? Who do I need to inform? Where will I stay? Are there flights? They’re how much! These decisions come rushing upon you before you’re emotionally ready to deal with them. They also make it hard to slow down, pray and listen for God’s voice. Along with the practical considerations come relational ones. How’s Dad doing? What about my pregnant sister in England? What about mum’s emotions as she deals with a crisis situation? What about my own family’s needs and their emotional well-being?
There’s also a temptation to think ahead too far and put worst-case scenarios in your head. This is a survival mechanism as you try and prepare yourself for bad news. It never works. What does seem to work is maintaining a running dialogue with God, handing things over to him as they arise and asking for his guidance. It’s hard to take a lot of time to pray but I have found it possible to take short times; a few minutes here and there to give myself over to God and ask for his Spirit to fill me and lead me and the same for those I love.
One thing became clear; I was going to honour my friend by taking her funeral. As I prepared words yesterday I was able to grieve her loss and rest in God’s love for my own situation. As I made that choice, prompted by God’s Spirit I believe, a surrender happened. By limiting my immediate availability to my family I gave up control over a lot of the arrangements. God stepped up. He prompted my not-pregnant-sister in England to put aside a busy workload to be with dad. He found cheap accommodation for us. A suitable flight at a good time at a reasonable price appeared for me. God is good and when we give up control we discover afresh just how much he looks after us as our Father.
Times of crisis come for all of us. God is in it. Do your best to slow down, surrender and trust. I don’t know what will happen today. I don’t know how mum is. I don’t know if I’ll break down in the funeral but I do know that God is good even when circumstances aren’t. God is love and my choice today is to rest in that love. May it be so for you too.