Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finding the Silver Lining

I don't understand why God has allowed this to happen in our lives, and I never will. We can never fully understand God's purpose or plan for our life. But we can put our trust in Him, and accept it. When my uncle died, I had been very angry with God, and often demanded a reason for my uncle's death. I was angry for so long that I lost sight of my relationship with Him for a while. I had lost my trust, and my faith in Him. I so badly wanted an answer for why He had allowed my uncle to die. Wanting an answer to that question truly hindered my healing process. We can never understand why God allows tragedies to happen in our lives. What I had to learn the hard way, is to trust in God's decision, even if I didn't like it, and to look for the silver lining in the storm cloud of the tragedy. It took me a long time to stop questioning God about my uncle's death, but when I finally did, I felt refreshed. When I finally put my trust back in Him, my entire life changed. While I still don't know why God allowed my uncle to die, one thing I discovered was the silver lining, and God's mercy. The silver lining in my uncle's death was that he should have died four years before, but through God's mercy, He allowed us an extra four years with my uncle. When we first discovered Bryan's brain tumor, he should have died. But through what we came to see as God's divine intervention, Bryan survived and lived for another four years. During those four years, his life changed. He became a family man, and a man of God. During those four years, he and I developed a very strong and special relationship. Although I lost  him in the end, the silver lining I discovered was that through God's mercy I had gained four extra years with him. Four years in which we grew very close, and I grew close to God, and developed a relationship with both Bryan and the Lord that I will forever cherish. If it weren't for God's mercy, I never would have had those four years with Bryan that transformed my life. As I said in a school essay about Bryan: those four years I had with him was worth more than a lifetime of never truly knowing him. After months of searching, I had finally found the silver lining in my uncle's death that allowed me to let go of my anger with God, and to fully put my trust and faith in Him.

I cry out to the Lord; I pray to the Lord for mercy. (Psalm 142:1)

God will always give what is right to His people who cry to Him night and day, and He will not be slow to answer them. (Luke 18:7)

The Lord is close to everyone who prays to Him, to all who truly pray to Him. (Psalm 145:18)

Ever since then, my faith in the Lord has never wavered. Even when if felt like deja vu in the hospital with Sharon: an injury to the brain, life-support, facing the possibility of losing her. Memories of my uncle's injury and death in the hospital plagued me the entire time we were in the hospital with Sharon. I couldn't believe that this was happening, again. I couldn't believe that I was in the ICU, wondering if the person I loved would live or not, again. But through the entire arduous ordeal, one thing remained completely different - my utter faith and trust in the Lord. Because of my past experience with my uncle, I had known that things could end badly. I knew that even if I prayed and believed in a miracle, the worst could still happen. With Bryan, I never once thought that he would die . . . but he did. I didn't know what God had planned for us with Sharon, but I knew the all too real possibility of what could happen, and I prayed constantly for God's strength and comfort for me, and the entire family for whatever outcome we were to face. In the end, we lost Sharon. But one thing we did not lose was our faith. I had been so worried that someone would be angry with God and would turn away from him, just as I did after my uncle's death. But this family of mine is so awe-inspiring, and I have been filled with such deep pride for them, because not only did they not become angry and turn away from God, they instead turned to Him and sought comfort from Him.

Nothing . . . in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:39)

Come near to God, and God will come near to you. (James 4:8)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those whose spirits have been crushed. (Psalm 34:18)

Looking back on my uncle's death, I've wondered if maybe another part of the silver lining was that God was preparing me for this moment, and this tragedy with Sharon. I've wondered if my experience with Bryan's death helped to strengthen me for this battle that we would face, so that I could be strong and offer a sense of comfort for my family. While I'm still sad over my uncle's death, I'm grateful for that experience because it has made me into who I am today, and it strengthened my relationship and trust in the Lord to help me bear this current tragedy. If not for my uncle's death, I don't know if I would have had the strength to shoulder the burden of Sharon's death. I am utterly grateful to the Lord, for even in the death of my loved one, something good came from it, and that was my faith. After Bryan's death, I had felt like the strength of my relationship with God and my trust in Him would allow me to face any challenge or tragedy that lay before me. I thought that I would face a personal illness, or perhaps difficulty conceiving. Never, not once, had I ever thought that I would face the death of my beloved mother-in-law. But I did have to face it, and endure the battle, and I have survived. My God has allowed me to survive another tragedy.

We are like clay, and You are the potter; Your hands made us all. (Isaiah 64:8)

Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction. (Mark 5:34)

When I search for the silver lining in Sharon's death, I've found it in more than one way. First, Sharon might have lived, but she may have had to live with a terrible handicap or as a vegetable. After the death of Sharon's oldest brother, we learned how terrified Sharon was of having that happen to her. So for me, one thing that I am grateful for, and one way that I see the silver lining is that Sharon didn't have to suffer. Instead she was blessed with paradise, where there is no pain, and no handicap. She is healthy and whole. The other silver lining I see is God's divine intervention in our lives over the past year. When looking back on the past, I can see His hand in many aspects of our lives, guiding and preparing us for what was to come. He allowed us so many opportunities to spend time together with Sharon, and for Dutch and Sharon to spend quality time together. The last bit of silver lining that I've been able to find, is that through Sharon's death we've grown closer in our relationships with God. And I truly believe that Sharon would be ecstatic to know that she helped strengthen our relationships with our Lord.

This body that dies must clothe itself with something that can never die. (1 Corinthians 15:35)

While this has been one difficult tragedy to endure, the strength of our faith in God has helped us to overcome it. We will still suffer for longer than any of us will wish, but beyond it all is our God. And through Him, we can do all things. The healing path ahead of us may look longer and more daunting than we'd like, but our God will be there to help us through.

I will be with you always. (Matthew 28:20)

Pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. (Philippians 4:6)

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. (2 Thessalonians 2:16)

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