Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Week Joys and Woes

Today we start our home-stretch toward Christmas day, and our heads are reeling with the financial pressures and deadlines, and the weird schedule at work that is a combination of lots of events to get to, but not a lot of work to do.
Today and tomorrow we gather with our Pastor, whose sister Nancy died last Friday. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November, and died so soon after. It happened so fast, and so sickeningly suddenly. We're mourning for her whole family but mostly for our Pastor and friend, who has now lost two beloved siblings within a year, too young. She didn't know she had cancer, at all- until she went into renal failure and was hospitalized. How long had it been at work in her, silently wreaking havoc, without her even knowing? How horrible to be betrayed by your own body like that, keeping secrets and making promises while slowly getting ready to kick your legs out from under you.
I remember hearing a doctor on an NPR interview who had been paralyzed many years before. The interviewer asked him whether he resented his body, and he said no, that instead he thanked it for sticking with him through all he'd put it through. I love that attitude. But I wonder if people with cancer like Nancy's can ever get to that point.
The pastor is a faith-filled and joyful man, and it's crushing to see him sad- and it's so awful that it's happening around Christmas. He told Scott that of course none of them had done any shopping. It makes me want to help him, but of course there's not much I can do.
I'm slowly starting to understand how God works in these situations... I think... I think He, too, would like to make everything better, to let people live forever, to never experience sadness- but He knows, He must know, that this is all part of a much bigger picture. I have to believe that even though we fear death, and leaving the ones we love, or the ones we love leaving us, God knows about a bigger and better truth, a bigger and better goodness. But it must be hard for him to watch us suffer- like a parent whose heart breaks at their child's tears, but knows that the tears are part of the growing and learning that the child needs. Remember parents used to say "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you..."? Maybe that's true for our Father, too.

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