This is a piece I wrote in March for the women's ministry on our campus:
I’m a daddy’s girl. Even now I remember with longing the evenings when Daddy would come home from work, fix a daquiri for Mother and himself, and finally settle into an easy chair so that I could fling myself into the loving security of his lap as we all talked over the day. I knew that I was safe, that I could trust him, that I would always be loved and cared for.
Today, as he enters hospice care and we face the ending in this world of his long love for us, I struggle to trust the Father he emulated so well. The evil of death thrusts me back into questioning the goodness, the trustworthiness, the love of God. The irony that death itself was brought into the world by our refusal to trust Him seems lost on me.
My aunt called this afternoon. She’s facing the death of the last member of her extended family, a lonely reality. But she called to talk about my mother: “She’s a walking tower of strength,” she said; “I hope you appreciate her.”
And so I think about Mother’s life and all that she has endured: her own mother’s death when she was only six; raised by her widowed grandmother and various aunts while her father lived in a TB sanatorium for several years; getting by in the Great Depression; wondering on her intended wedding day if her fiancé – a WWII pilot – were even alive; her father’s death on her birthday one cold Christmas morning . . . and so much more, and now her husband of 67 years declining every day.
And she is indeed a tower of strength. Rather than dwell on suffering, she has set herself to serve and love others; service is the air she breathes. I have always known her to be a strong Christian, but it was only recently that she told me about having to move in high school when her father came out of the sanatorium, her resentment at being uprooted – and then two gifts: the three friends whom only death could separate, and the church where she found the love of God.
And so she learned what she has taught me every day of my life: look for the gifts and give of yourself. God never abandons us; He waits to meet us when we turn away from self to Him and to our neighbor. Suffering is merely the inevitable consequence of living; joy is what He makes of it all if we let Him. And so, as I have so many times over the years, I remind myself that – whatever of sadness and sorrow and evil may enter my life – my Father holds me in an even stronger love than that first fatherly love I knew, which, as strong as it has been, is only a shadow of its Giver’s.