There are so many things in this life that just don’t make sense. For better or for worse, those things that happen that just can’t be understood, explained and sometimes accepted. I have a verse that sits on my desk, written in permanent marker, on crinkled, brown craft paper, pressed tightly between the glass of a borderless frame. It says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7. How aptly the presentation describes the frailness of my humanity pressed tightly between the surety of Christ and the Gospel. The permeance of the marker on the crinkled, worn paper and the permeance of faith in Christ Jesus needing to be inscribed on my broken and frail heart.
The truth of those words from Scripture, that our walk in this broken world; seeing brokenness, feeling brokenness, living brokenness can only be understood for me, through the lens of the Gospel truth; That God loves us and reaches into our brokenness to redeem. He saw the brokenness that came through one willful act of rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve and His eternal plan of redemption and restoration was set into place. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus to earth. He was fully God and yet wrapped in human flesh, living without sin. He lived with us, walked with us, saw suffering and sorrow and was acquainted with all our griefs. He knew that He was the answer for life’s sorrow and sin constantly reaching out to the broken and those suffering. When God's time was appointed, Jesus willingly went to the cross and died a brutal death taking on the sins of the world so that all who believe in Jesus, putting their faith in Him, would not only be forgiven of their sins, but would have an eternity waiting for them in heaven with the Lord when their last breath on this earth was gone. The God of the Bible is where my faith lies. Not only in what God did through Jesus, but in all of His promises and truths written on the pages of Scripture. But oh how the circumstances of this life can test our faith.
This week, my faith eyes battled with my human eyes. My eyes seeking to betray me and cave to the confusion before me as my friend, sister in Christ, young mom of 3 was ushered into the presence of the Lord as she lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer. And yet, as devestating and hard as it is for all of us to grapple with this reality, I have to choose to trust God. We must choose to trust God. We must choose to put our faith in Him even when everything around us doesn’t make sense in our human understanding. It is a choice. We can either choose to stay in the darkness and confusion of death, disease and suffering or can choose to trust the God of the universe, who is bigger than our understanding, wiser and soverign. The God, who has had a plan from the beginning of time not only for all of creation but for you and me. The God who intimately knows each of us by name and knows the details of our lives. The God who is both the beginning and the end of all. The God who loves us and is love even when His ways don’t seem loving. We must choose to have faith in who He is and what He says. He says this in Isaiah 55:8-9:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts"
In my humanness and weakness, as I wrestle through this loss of life on this side of eternity, as I even wrestle through my own walk with cancer and God healing me but not Bridget, I trust that God has a plan and His plan is good. That He will continue to meet the needs of Bridget’s husband, children and family in Bridget’s absence. That He will show us His goodness in all that doesn’t look good with our human eyes and hearts. That He will redeem and restore and comfort the broken hearted. That through Bridget’s life and even in her death, God’s truth will be seen and by God’s grace others will choose faith eyes.
What a gift Bridget was to all who knew her. For the women in the Delighting in the Lord Bible study, we walked closely beside her as she battled this disease. Many are mourning and grieving her loss. I am one of them. But what I saw in Bridget from the moment she shared the sacred places of her heart with me over 2 years ago, at the onset of her diagnosis, was a women who trusted God desiring time and time again to look at her disease and battle with faith eyes. A woman who looked to Jesus for hope and peace. A woman who loved life but loved Jesus more wanting everyone around her to know her Jesus. And a woman who pressed into life’s questions with Jesus. How poignant that we recently finished studying the book of Acts together as a group of women with Bridget alongside. The book of Acts ends with the Apostle Paul in chains in Rome. It is here that Paul would write the book of Philippians and would pen the words, through the Holy Spirit, in Philippians 1:21 “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” In the study on Acts 25 & 26, I wrote this:
Death. It is something that we all know will happen to us one day. Physical life has a beginning and a guaranteed ending. If you like statistics, death falls into the 100% column. And yet, many live life as if death is a very distant event not wanting to give it much thought. We push it to the back of our brains letting it have little effect and impact on our living. I, Stacy, used to be that person. I didn’t want to think about my end days much until I developed breast cancer. A diagnosis like that takes something far off and sweeps it immediately to the forefront. Death became a very real reality. It felt closer and a little more certain, forcing me to consider life differently as well as all my choices. I think that’s a good thing. It also made me look squarely into the fears that penetrated my heart about death: what will my final hours look like? Will there be pain? What will happen to my kids? Will my husband love someone again like he loves me? How will they manage without me? And in those swirling questions throughout my cancer treatments, God entered in asking time and time again, “Do you trust Me?”
I believe faith in God lies at the center of our death fears. We hold onto the things of this world thinking we hold those pieces together, when really, God holds it all. He doesn’t need us holding the pieces together. He needs us to trust Him. If we trust Him for eternity, why do we struggle with trusting Him with today’s circumstances? When we get wrapped up in fear and worry, we stop living for Him. Our focus is on our fears and the what-ifs instead of Him. Our focus goes to our comfort, not Christ. But He calls us to live for Him, not for comfort. He desires we spend our days here on earth living as a living sacrifice for Him (Romans 12:1-2). It’s our reasonable act of service. In that, life and death are wrapped together. When we do that, people’s lives are affected for eternity because people see Jesus, not us. That is Christ living.
Paul knew Christ-living and He was certain of the blessing to be gained in death as he then would live with Christ forever. He could confidently say to us all: “To live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
Bridget epitomizes for me Paul’s very heart and life. She lived her life for Christ and now in death, she has experienced a gain that none of us can yet fully understand. She is with Jesus, standing in His presence, singing with a choir of angels, without disease; healed and restored. She has gained the gift of eternal life with Jesus. Her life now a sweet fragrance left behind for all of us to savor.
So today, in my humanness and in yours, may we choose to trust God, His ways and His plan. May we keep faith eyes before us as the tears flow and the heart aches deeply. May we stand on the solid ground of God’s truths. May we pray; pray for Nick, Josiah, Scarlet and Arie and the rest of the family. May we comfort each other, mourn with each other and encourage each other in the Lord as we walk this path of great grief. But we don’t grieve without hope knowing that for all who have put their faith in Jesus, we have the blessed hope of a reunion in heaven. I Can’t wait to see Bridget’s smiling, beautiful face again.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
For those who would like to come, Bridget’s memorial service will be held this Saturday, July 15th at Calvary Chapel Chester Springs. The viewing will be from 9-10:30am and her service starting at 11am.