Yesterday, I once again tried to weasel out of church. (Yes I am a heathen) I was sore and tired from working all day Saturday and I knew we were going to do more on Sunday. Plus add in losing an hour and it made for a perfect day to skip. Again Matt said nope and off we went.
This week's message was Praising God in Times of Struggles. A message most churches do over and over again. So I silently rolled my eyes and said "Here we go again". I was surprised to find out that our normal pastor wasn't speaking this week. Instead a church member was. The man was probably our age and to my surprise gave an awesome message.
Sure I have had struggles –– having Emily in college and the ramifications of that with my family, financial struggles during that time and starting out as a married couple, moving to places with no family or friends, marriage ups and downs, Chris's seizures, etc. –– but it is no secret that my biggest struggle has been Allison's sickness and then dying. It is something I struggle with daily. And especially at this time of the year, as her birthday would be next month, I find myself struggling more and more.
So during the message yesterday the speaker said my all time least favorite verse:
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5: 3-5 (NIV)
I don't know what came over me, but I couldn't stop the tears from coming. I look at that verse and think of my mother in law who suffered for years, bedridden and unable to move, and ask how does that verse apply to her? How did that give her hope and build her character? How does Allison dying help build character? Or hope? I think I had plenty of character, thank you. Sorry God. I didn't need nor want anymore.
Ultimately the message had a great lesson. And I know that the pain and suffering that we have here on earth is just a small bit in comparison for those who will spend eternity in Heaven. But I am a person who hates waiting and hates not understanding.
Afterwards though is the important part to me. Matt and I very rarely talk about Allison. It is just a topic that we don't discuss. He deals with it his way and I do my way. Okay he deals with it and I don't, but that isn't the point.
After we left church Matt talked me about the message and how he felt because he knew I was upset. We talked about his mom and while he can't understand all the why's, he does know that many people came to know God through his mom. He saw people's lives change because of his mom. He reminded me about her funeral and how things people said there gave him hope and let him still believe.
But when it comes to Allison, he told me that it is still a struggle. That he is no where close to God or believing as he did 5 years ago.
That he can't understand or find understanding in why his daughter died. But that he also can't live his life asking the why's or the why not's. And that he knows someday, not in this world but someday, he will know. But he also said that he thinks going through what he did with his mom helped him come to that understanding. And that he had a lot longer time to question than I have but that he promised one day I will reach the point of acceptance.
For those who are struggling with something, anything, I invite you to listen to the sermon from our church yesterday. The link is not up yet, but as soon as it is, I will post it.