Without sorrow, there is no joy
A few weeks ago a fundraiser was held for my sister, Becky. For those who don’t know, she is in the fight of her life, for her life, against cancer.
This has been, far and away, the most difficult life-challenge my family has ever had to face. And, naturally, thoughts and questions surface as to why God would, or could, allow such a devastating disease to invade a body of such a sweet, wonderful person who is my sister.
I’ve had them. Many times.
Then, this morning, I see a Facebook post from my son, Sean, who is in Germany serving in the United States Air Force with his wife, Kristin. They recently lost their first child by miscarriage. In essence, he, too, wonders why these things happen to good people.
It’s a good question. And one that, as a father, is nearly impossible to answer in a way that might help a son cope.
However, a few days before the fundraiser for Becky, I sat down at my computer to do what I’ve always done whenever I attempt to make sense of things. The following is the result of that day. I shared it that evening with the folks who attended the occasion and it was well-received.
Several have asked for a copy of this and, with Sean struggling for a lot of the same answers I was, I feel it is appropriate to share in this venue.
This is from Sept. 20, with just a slight tweak here and there:
One of the things I do, whenever I struggle to understand why certain things happen, the way I cope is I write. I’d like to share with you tonight some thoughts that I had not long ago, thinking about Becky, that I feel are appropriate tonight.
My sister is very sick. And we can't begin to understand or explain why. Why Becky? Why cancer? And why now?
This isn't the first time my family has had to face difficult times. My wife's heart attack. The loss of my father.
The loss of my hair. (It’s okay to laugh. Becky loves to laugh)
My point is this: instead of looking for answers that aren't there, we are compelled to deal with what we’re faced with.
The best way we can. And, as a result, we will likely emerge from this, like the others, closer and stronger because of it.
And, by doing this, and especially as we get older, we also begin to understand one irrefutable fact of life: our world is not perfect. So do we dwell on that or do we remember that there are some wonderful things in this world as well?
I mean, we have folks who walk into schools and movie theatres with guns and inexplicably take lives. Yet we have far more - far more - who are willing to walk into burning buildings, at great risk to their own lives, to save complete strangers.
There are some who think nothing of stealing money, or valuables, or even innocence. But there are countless more who give - their money, their time, their knowledge, and sometimes even their lives - to help those who so desperately need it and who are unable to do it alone.
And there are diseases that take and destroy lives. But there are so many who work tirelessly their entire lives to try and find cures and treatments for these diseases. And just like my sister, they never give up.
So there's a balance of sorts, a compromise of extremes:
Without sorrow, we could not feel joy.
Without evil, we could not recognize goodness.
Without ugliness, we could not appreciate beauty.
Without adversity, we could never understand real strength.
And if we lived forever, we could never know the miracle and the joy of living in this world.
Becky personifies the very essence of all of this. Her unfailing courage and faith is such an inspiration. Because of her I am able to, once again, know that God is all around us and taking care of this world. Because Becky did not embrace God because of this disease. Rather, she has faced this disease because of her faith in God. And by witnessing that, everyone who knows her, everyone who is around her, is lifted up by her.
She doesn't complain. She sees the bright side of even this. Her Facebook posts run along these lines: Spent the day fishing with Lee. I'm the luckiest girl in the world. Going to the zoo with my girls. God is good.
I don't know what else I could say. But I believe what Becky would say to all of you is this: I'm fine. Don't worry about me. God is taking care of me.
Our world may not be perfect, but it's close.
And it truly is a wonderful world.