At the loss of a friend, or I hate cancer

Day Two – At the loss of a friend, or I hate cancer
(Written 1/21/2016)
I opened my computer to write this post. A simple action of my morning. I’m surrounded by some of my favorite things, my husband (quietly working on sermon prep), my coffee, my computer, and my Lutheran Study Bible. I feel warm and cozy.
I open my Facebook feed to idly post a study update, when I see the post that I knew was coming for months, but feels shocking and sad and unfair all the same.
We lost my dear friend, Melissa, to cancer overnight.
I hate cancer. My children would tell me that we don’t use the word hate. But cancer, I hate. It robs children of mothers and fathers and grandparents. It eats up time that was meant to be enjoyed together with those we love. It has no boundaries. It touches all of us in some way. It fear mongers, and leaves us wondering when it will come find us. Disease, of any kind, is of Satan, but just like all the dark things on the path behind us and before us, God redeems that too. He redeems what cancer steals. I’m holding Him to it.
There is a time to die. We know it, but we avoid it. It seems so morbid to talk about it. It’s not tea party talk or baby shower talk. But why do we avoid it with those closest to us? Why do we feel so uncomfortable affirming the truth of it in our own lives? I have two theories…it’s a little bit scary, and it’s just so big.
We may avoid talk of death, but the Bible does not. There are 839 occurrences of muth, our word for die in Ecclesiastes 3, found in Strong’s Concordance. There is a place for the reality of death. As Christians we get to talk about it and shed light in a dark place with no hope. We have Jesus and we can offer His message to a world fearing death, avoiding death, and misunderstanding death.
If something exists, it is either purposeful and from God, or made purposeful by God. God gave us death to save us from eternal despair and destruction. Death is a door. A way into God’s new beginning. With Jesus we can see this. The scales fall and our eyes are opened to what new things God is doing through death-
Heaven (real and tangible), restored relationships, a different path, a desperate need for something else, for a Savior who loves us…
Death teaches us that eternity matters, and so do we. When things die, there is room for rebirth. Without death things become stagnant. Knowing this, we can appreciate that even the death of little things are purposeful…the death of our spring flowers brings winter rest, the death of one idea, births another, the death of an activity brings time for something more.
More than that, the death of things we treasure,
the death of a loved one gives us a greater depth of desire for God and eternity,
the death of a job opens the door to something new in our lives,
the death of a friendship can show us who we are and what we value more clearly.
Read Ecclesiates 3:1-2 again carefully –
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
“Everything in its time” invites death in. We can be comfortable with it, because we are comfortable with God’s hand on it, in it, and around it.
My life will not be quite the same without Melissa. We gathered around the Word together almost every Wednesday morning for 8 years. Her insights and affection have left a Jesus shaped imprint on my heart and soul. But I know, without a doubt, that God has a plan. He will make this beautiful. His work in Melissa’s death will not be lost. He will use this, and many of us will hear a new Word of Grace as we mourn her loss.
Dear Father, birth what you would birth and let die those things that you would have die. It is all in You. Help us to give it to you, for you hold it already. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:
Who have you lost that left an eternal mark on you?

What do you do to help others around you deal with grief?

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