Two weeks ago my best friend from college called on a Sunday afternoon to tell me she has been diagnosed with ALS.
Yes, that ALS – the horrific Lou Gehrig’s disease that eats away at your muscles til you are a rag doll of your former self.
Arms and legs progressively stop functioning . It also impacts your voice and breathing; lifespan shortens as complications related to lung function intrude.
I simply could. not. deal. I couldn’t accept that my vibrant full-of-LIFE friend with the most infectious laugh on earth might have to experience this crippling horror.
Instead of leaning in, I wanted to lean out. Instead of turning towards, I wanted to turn away.
There are days like this for all of us when life seems to hurl us into foreign galaxies not of our choosing. And instead of praying or doing anything to enter into the pain, if we’re honest, we’d like to curl up with a box of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate sea salt almonds, and binge watch Fixer Upper (where something gets FIXED!!).
This picture was taken in London two years ago. Don’t we look young and fun?? 🙂 We had no idea what was ahead for either of us.
Thursday I wrote in my journal:
Lord, I just do not want to “go there” with You or Patty.
I don’t want to go down the road of loss and sadness and “unanswered” prayer.
Been there. Done that. Bought the shirt. Not fun.
Lord, I don’t know what to pray. I don’t have the will or energy to do this again after losing David.
The most I can do is hold Patty, and all the others I love who are hurting before You, and say “Lord have mercy. Walk with us. Carry us. Reassure us that we’ll be ok in the end.”
Jesus, when You were waiting in the Garden of Gethsemane for the cross, is this a little bit of how the humanity in You felt?
“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
You didn’t want to “go there”, but You did. For us.
I read over those words and I think “WHAT THE HECK??!!! This is not about YOU, Laura! You are not the one who is suffering! It’s Patty!”
But suffering is about me and you too. Because we belong to each other. God has knit us together in love.
He suffers with us and we suffer with each other.
We are made to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
To carry one another’s burdens.
We pray for the refugees and the widows and those without water far away, and pray and hold hands and walk with those suffering close by.
Because we are not meant to suffer alone. Ever.
And the Lord whispers, “Go there, Laura. I’ve been there, and I will be there with you, and for you, and Patty, and all who suffer.”
In the email sent out to friends and family, Patty and her husband, Brian, quoted Alan Redpath, a British pastor from the 1900’s.
“There is nothing – no circumstance, no trouble, no testing – that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me.
If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause my to fret – for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is! – That is the rest of victory!”
So, here we go. In this together.
Lord, have mercy.