The mystery of suffering is one in which the world has struggled since the beginning of time. Books have been written, songs have been sung and messages preached. Yet the paradoxal question of suffering remains. It is not until we come to realize that love permits pain, that we truly begin to understand some of the mysteries in life.
Most have heard the story of Lazarus in the Bible. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha, the infamous sisters in the life of Christ who deemed two different extremes in their service to him. The one was a worshipper, the other a servant ... but, both dear to the heart of Christ. Christ heard that Lazarus was sick, but stayed two days away from him. The Bible even states, "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus," as if to teach us that at the very heart of love, pain is often permitted.
Christ waited until Lazarus was dead to come to them. He abstained from going, not because he did not love them, but because he did love them. His love kept him back. Those of you who know the rest of the story know that Lazarus was raised from the dead and God glorified because of it. Happy endings. We all love them.
I, personally, refuse to watch sad movies. Why? As I've said for decades, because life is scary enough. Though it is true that not all dead are raised, not all problems seemingly solved, and bad people do exist, the reason we do not see happy endings in our own lives is because we are looking at our trials and tragedies from an earthly perspective. It's like the illustration of a tapestry and God working on the embroidery of our lives. He sees the beautiful tapestry he is creating while we look up and see the knots of threads and mess underneath. A beautiful picture is being created, but we simply cannot see the beauty because of the mess called pain.
Speaking of embroidery, a godly woman named Esther Bennett from Bergoo taught my late daughter, Kristin Short to embroider. During Kristin's homeschool days, I determined that she learn some of the lost arts of yesteryear, and Esther was the perfect woman to teach her: kind, compassionate, loving and patient. Esther loved people and people adored her. Kristin went to Esther's regularly and learned some of the forgotten homemaking skills, and came home and taught me. Kristin and I spent many a winter's night embroidering quilt squares, pillows and pictures. It was such fun.
At Kristin's funeral, I looked up and saw the Pastor Bennie Cowger and his dear wife, Barbara, from Bergoo and it thrilled my heart as their kindness was a balm to me when I lived there. Directly behind them very slowly walked Esther Bennett and her long-time neighbor and dear friend, Ocie. The two were inseverable. Esther could barely walk and looked so very frail. We embraced and I held her face in my hands and cried as I thanked her for coming and also for teaching Kristin so many wonderful things. Her kindness was alway a light in a dark place for us. I loved on her real good for a few minutes, and I'm so glad I did because within the week, Esther Bennett went home to be with Jesus, too.
Streams in the Desert says, "Comfort does not come to the lighthearted and merry. We must go down into 'depths' if we would experience this most precious of God's gifts - comfort, and be prepared to be co-worker together with him."
To give us a taste of what lies before us and the "other side of the tapestry," here is an excerpt from one of Kristin's journals. Kristin Short, at 14 years of age, wrote "Daddy's Hands." She had longed for a daddy as hers had died when she was nine months, but over and over throughout her journals, she declared her "Abba Father" to be the daddy she had always longed to have. Abba means "Papa or daddy" in the Hebrew language.
"I gently rubbed my eyes with puzzlement. I knew I was in a place far unknown, yet, I felt right at home. My soul was soaring just as the surrounding angels soared. As I walked, I heard someone calling me. His words were spoken with such love, such tenderness and such peace! The words rippled over my heart as a sweet babbling brook. As I turned, my breath caught in my throat! 'It's YOU!' I cried. As I fell at the feet of my Savior, I again was amazed by why One so great would leave a place so grand only to be betrayed by the likes of dreadful men. And once again I saw my answer when His voice spoke the words I've wanted to hear all my life: 'Arise my child!' I have loved thee with an everlasting love. He gently reached out a loving hand to me, as I looked upon the scars so red and deep. For the first time in my life, I understood. The tears streamed down my cheeks. He spoke again: Welcome home, my child! In an instant, my tears were gone, and I was taken in those nail scarred hands. I love you, Lord! I love you, Lord! was the song in my heart. 'Welcome Home my child,' was all He said." Kristin Short (copyright pending)
In November 2003, Kristin quotes Streams in the Desert - "Friend, you can trust the Man that died for you. You can trust Him to baffle no plan which is not best to be foiled, and to carry out everyone which is for God's glory and your highest good. You can trust Him to lead you in the path which is the very best in the world for you." On June, 8, 2003, Kristin wrote: "The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire." Deuteronomy 5:4 and then she speaks lovingly about her youth pastor, Mark Scott, and the lesson from the book of Ruth sharing the truth that the "hard times in life, make us who we are." She continued, "You Lord, speak with us in the fire."
Kristin continued this entry by saying, "It is just so hard, my Abba, watching momma hurt so. I wish I could do something."
What Kristin didn't know was that her journals would someday be a balm to this momma's heart during the greatest of all my losses. Knowing that she is safe in her "Abba's arms" is enough right now to carry me through.
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a homeschool mom and a counselor with Cornerstone Christian Counseling, and also co-founder of Kristin's Hope, an organization founded to ease the suffering of hurting people as well as to help stop human trafficking.)