This Thursday, the 16th of October, is my 22nd birthday. It also should have been my nephew Robby’s 19th birthday, but my birthday buddy celebrates in Heaven now. Although I was only 6 when Robby passed away from cancer (he was 3), that kind of pain never really goes away. If you’ve lost someone close to you, you understand—time doesn’t really heal all wounds, it just changes them. There are some aches that will never disappear.
This is an extremely hard subject to write on, because there’s not really a right way to do it. I don’t have the eloquence to tackle a topic like this. Because the truth is, in light of death, topics like choosing joy in the face of negativity is easy. Death, however. Loss. Deep pain. It’s not something I can write a satirical, sassy post on, with quick quips and pop culture references. I almost didn’t write anything about this, because there are people far better at addressing it than I am. People like Mindy Sauer, who is so much more eloquent and inspirational. Mindy took her real, painful story and turned it into a saga of hope for her readers. She was an encouragement to people all over the world, while she and her family were enduring the painful, indescribable loss of a child. I would highly encourage you to write her posts on this blog.
I still feel inadequate to write about this, so I decided that I’d let some Scripture do the talking. But first, I do have one thought I’d like to share: sometimes joy doesn’t look like choosing happiness. It doesn’t mean choosing to see the positive side. It doesn’t always mean finding the silver lining, because let’s face it: sometimes there isn’t a silver lining. Sometimes joy means not happiness, but hope. Hope and faith that even in the darkest of storms, when all is lost and the sun hasn’t shone in years, God is still good. You’ll notice that the following verses don’t try to make it seem like we never face real pain. I remember Beth Moore saying in one of her studies that she’d like to stuff a dirty sock in the mouth of the person who said “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.” Because we know better than that. Cancer. Addiction. Death. Loss. Betrayal. Illness. This is not small stuff. We don’t have to try to convince ourselves that our pain isn’t real. It is real. What we need to remind ourselves is that God is bigger still. He is stronger. He is here. His arms are open to comfort us.
“We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed….So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day….we set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever.” –2 Corinthians 4:8-10, 16, &18 NCV
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33 NLT
“…He says, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you. I have called you by name, and you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames hurt you. This is because I, The Lord, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” –Isaiah 43:1-3a NCV
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.” –2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NCV
“He does not ignore those in trouble. He doesn’t hide from them but listens when they call out to Him.” –Psalm 22:24 NCV
“Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can troubles or problems or sufferings or hunger or nakedness or danger or violent death? As it is written in the Scriptures: ‘For you we are in danger of death all the time. People think we are worth no more than sheep to be killed.’ But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed His love for us. Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:35-39 NCV
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.” –Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.'” –Lamentations 3:19-24 NIV
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” –Revelation 21:4 NIV
We love you and we miss you, Robby. We anxiously await the day we’ll see you again, when there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain. For now we find joy and hope because we know you are free. And God is still good.
* * *
This post is part of a series, 31 Days of Finding Joy. Interested? Click here.