Responding to Suffering

Patti was in her early 30’s, married with a five year old daughter, and in the final stages battling a brain tumor. We were specifically asking God to heal her, many were praying, but her physical condition was worsening.

She said to me, “The way I see it, I have 2 choices. Either I can believe God is good, or I can believe God is really good and worship Him.” I sat there stunned at her faith and refusal to do anything other than trust.
We watched her battle the cancer. She wrestled with the thought of leaving her family behind, but she expressed comfort in knowing it would be temporary. And she worshipped.
There were so many evidences of God’s nearness and comfort, and at the same time there weren’t many answers. Why was God allowing this? Why take her at such an early age? How could He be touching her so powerfully with joy and peace and not with physical healing?
Right at the very end, Patty’s sister and parents were staying at the house, all helping care for Patty along with her husband. Patty’s sister was struggling in particular with her own faith in God. She was awakened one night by the sound of singing. She thought it was a stereo outside but got up to look around and there was no one there. She tried to go back to sleep but heard it again. As she lay there in bed it just got louder.
She then saw, like a vision, some of her loved ones who had died and gone to heaven were on the other side of a shoreline, they were the ones singing. She ran down and awakened her parents to describe the scene and the song. They were overwhelmed with joy as she gave descriptions of loved ones, some she had never seen before. She hummed the song she was hearing and they told her it was from the hymn Ring the Bells of Heaven. These are the words:

Ring the bells of Heaven! There is joy today,
For a soul, returning from the wild!
See, the Father meets him out upon the way,
Welcoming His weary, wandering child.

Glory! Glory! How the angels sing:
Glory! Glory! How the loud harps ring!
’Tis the ransomed army, like a mighty sea,
Pealing forth the anthem of the free.

A few days later Patty passed from this life to join those awaiting her arrival in heaven.
Though questions may remain in suffering, I want to have an attitude like Patty – “God is really good and I’m going to worship Him.” And I want to be more in touch with the reality of eternal life – where the kingdom of heaven is breaking in…

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