Life is fragile

Life is fragile. I'm reminded again how easily life as we know it can be snatched away or dramatically changed.

Yesterday I began reading 90 Minutes in Heaven, by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey. We arrived an hour early for a concert by the Montgomery Philharmonic Orchestra at our church, Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church. I saw the book in the library. I'd been meaning to read it and there it was.

By the time the concert started, I was hooked and speeding through the story of Don Piper's collision with a semi and his brief experience of heaven. One moment Don was dead and 90 minutes later, Don was alive again singing with a pastor who was praying, crying and singing over Don's dead mangled body in the wreckage of his car.

Spirit-led prayer, God's mysterious purposes brought Don back to life. But it wasn't an easy journey to recovery. Don began the grueling recovery process and felt unbelievable pain. He wanted to die. He wanted to return to a pain-free joyous place in heaven.

The book asks many honest and profound questions: Why do we live in this difficult place and experience such pain? How can it be God's will that we suffer? Why should I allow others to minister to me in my weakness and helplessness?

While reading this book, I was reminded of other great books that dealt with similar themes. Two come to mind: The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis, and You Gotta' Keep Dancing, by Tim

I love the emotional honesty and messages of faith in this book.

I was reading it last night at home after the concert when we received a phone call from Arizona that Lauren experienced a near miss while diving in Belize. Pat had read Lauren and Matt's blog entry and called us.

There it was again: The frailty of life. It is one thing to read about Don Piper's experience, and it is another thing to find out that a loved one had a close call with injury and possibly death. Lauren and Matt were diving in Belize and Lauren was nearly hit by the propeller of a passing boat.

So, I did what I usually do when I'm afraid for people I love and I feel helpless: I prayed.

We are all in God's hands and we are here for a purpose. We don't have a "Get out of jail card" that keeps us from suffering and pain and difficult situations. I wish we did. We struggle. We have honest feelings whether we admit it or not. We have some degree of faith in a God who loves us and who will bring His children to a place of peace and joy someday in heaven. Until then, we have a job to do here and now and God goes with us. And even when we feel helpless, God is not helpless. And when we worry for another that we love, we have an advocate in heaven who hears our pleas and prayers. I know these things but I find I need to grasp them again and cling to who I know God is when worries and fear storm and shake my heart.

Why would God allow Don Piper to suffer? C.S. Lewis to suffer? Jesus to suffer on the cross? How can he bear to let them?

As a parent or grandparent, how can we watch as our children suffer or struggle? To stand on the sidelines armed only with prayer feels helpless. I don't like that feeling.

Then I am reminded by a book and a phone call that my focus has shifted to the problems and the feelings. Faith looks at who God is and what He can do. Faith doesn't have all the immediate answers but knows the end of the story. Faith feels the pain and uncertainties and worries of the moment but these fade as God becomes the focus.

So this morning, as I prepared to work with my small internet bookstore and attend website meetings with people at church, I took time to meditate and write down some of the things on my heart today.

Lauren had a near miss and many people, like Don Piper, suffer.

I'm reminded that people of faith are not immune from pain and suffering, but we have a God who is real who walks with us as we struggle. God gives us hope and purpose. Like Don Piper, we can choose what we focus on.

This morning I prayed for those I love and for myself. I don't want worries to cloud my vision. I want the eyes of my heart to see through the glasses of faith. That's when I notice God's footprints and fingerprints on our journeys.

Related links:

90 Minutes in Heaven

The Day I Almost Died


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