Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Good News Reflections on a Bad News Day

As much as I like rain, the grayness and dreariness of the day has matched the grief I have felt as hard, sad, heartrending news has come.

I woke this morning to an email that dear friends from our former ward lost their son last night. He was in his twenties, I believe. Fortunately, his dad made it to be there when he died; the son had called saying he wasn't feeling well. Although he had had health problems, his death was still a surprise. Our hearts ache with this family, who has had major health trials with more than one of their children, including heart transplants and life-threatening cancers.

Not a couple of hours later, I got a phone call informing me that a member of our family -- someone my age -- was just diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. (I still can't stop thinking of that disease as one tied to old age.) He has five children, including one who was born just months ago. Lots of unknowns sit there and will continue to exist as they wait to see how this all unfolds.

At times like these, I have to stop and reflect on the plan of salvation. I can't imagine facing trials like these, even vicariously, without the knowledge of the gospel. I have a hard time believing that life would seem so senseless and random if I didn't know that:

  • God is real and loves us.
  • God knows what is happening in our lives.
  • Trials don't mean He doesn't love us.
  • Trials can help us grow, and can help others grow.
  • Our lives are interconnected. We never know how others' lives can be touched and changed by trials in our lives. (I think we will be astounded at how interconnected everything really is, both in the present and throughout generations...after all, past, present, and future are all Now to God.)
  • As much as we should try to do our part with things like health, financial smarts and planning, preparedness, etc., in the end, we are not in control. Our lives are not ours. They are in God's hands. ALL of our lives are in God's hands.
  • Opposition is necessary, as is death.
  • There is life after death. We will all be resurrected because of the Savior, Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.
  • Family relationships can continue after death through the ordinances of the gospel.
  • The measure of happiness is not all dependent on what happens in the short span of mortality.
  • Life and relationships are precious.
  • If we are prepared (especially spiritually, but in other ways as well) we don't need to fear. (And if we feel fear, we need to summon faith, for they cannot coexist.)
I know God could have saved our friends' son. I know he could heal our family member. But His thoughts are not always our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. But I know that God is perfect, loving, and completely trustworthy.

I have a saying vinyl lettered on the inside of my pantry door. It says: "Trust and Let Go." I can only do my best and then I need to let go and let God.

The good news of the gospel is my anchor that helps me in times like this. It helps me as I reflect on and face my own health challenges and the unknown that is still associated with them. Times like this cause me to reflect on What Really Matters, and on living my life so that if God were to call me (or any of my loved ones) home, that I would be ready for whatever happens.

As a friend of mine says, "Life is hard, but with the Lord, we can do hard things."

The gospel, the good news, is true. I am grateful for that knowledge. I mourn today with those that mourn. I weep for their pain, and for mine. But I rejoice in their faith and hold onto my own. God will not forsake us. He loves us. And because of His Son, all things can come together for our good if we love and trust God.


Mary A said...

Michelle, these are great reminders of what can help us through our trials. Grief is normal and something we all have to go through from time to time, but God never means for us to sink into despair. He means for us to lean on Him and trust Him. We do what we can, but it will be so much better if we remember God in the midst of all the ups and downs of life. Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about the losses of those close to you. It's hard to "let go and let God" but I pray that they'll have the strength to let Him and be able to realize whatever good can come out of this.

m_and_m said...

mary, pdoe, thanks for your comments. Life is such a journey!

Ginny said...

YIKES! What a day!!! My thoughts are you with you guys and your family! Your thoughts are fabulous. I have been reflecting on them much with the whole Charlie thing. I spent some time there today and Angel's attitude was the embodiment of the faith you referenced. And their tragedy, among others, have strengthened my faith! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are days when almost the only thing you can do is to stop and make yourself recount the bedrock elements of faith, the basic facts you have come to know absolutely, or that you cling to in faith that must be so for life to have any purpose or hope. You've pretty well duplicated my list.

And don't you find that very soon, after you've remembered these things, you begin to know what you can do in practical terms to face, or help your friends face, what needs to be done?

Best wishes.

Cheryl said...

The rain got to me, too, but I didn't hear of tragedy like you did! I'm so sorry.

I loved this post because it is such a good reminder to remember the things that we do have --the things that really matter. I remember one time sitting down to write three things I was thankful for to pull me out of a major funk (my "down" days). I ended up filling nearly three pages! It's almost impossible to be depressed or angry when we think of our amazing blessings. At the top of the list is always knowledge of God and Christ, too.
Thank you for this reminder, m&m!

m_and_m said...

Ginny, Ardis, Cheryl, thank you for your comments.

Ginny, Charlie's story is one I talked about with the man's we discussed how you never know what trials may do for others.

Ardis, I find that usually, the sorting through the faith part and the trying to serve part go hand in hand. My first impulse is to want to help -- both for their sake, and for mine. Serving is one way that I find some healing, and I know what it feels like on the receiving end, so I always hope that service can be meaningful and memorable to them.

Interestingly, this family was on my mind just the night before as I was reflecting on a time when they were providing service to me (at the beginning of the health issues when I was going to appointments multiple times a week).

Another interesting tidbit to add is that I woke up to find that there was a call with the deceases name on our Caller ID...and we only know one person by this name! It was the young man's father, asking my husband to speak at the funeral! (I forgot to mention that my husband had had this young man in a class or two.)

Cheryl, I like your idea of a gratitude list...probably something we should all do once in a while. :)

Thanks, all, for your support and love here. It helps me to write to sort out my feelings and thoughts, and all the more when people will share their thoughts in return.

Papa D said...

My wife has been keeping a weekly "Blessings List" on her blog for the last few months. It is a wonderful practice.