As I greeted my friend, I asked, “How are you?” She immediately began to wipe away tears. Burdened with loneliness, she had watched as countless younger friends had married over the years—but she had not. As two more were set to wed soon, she wondered why she remained alone. Her heart’s desire remains, but as each year slips by, her fears of growing old alone intensify.
For more than a decade now my family and I have lived in rental homes. This has made it possible for us to be ready to pack up and move whenever God revealed His next plans for us. Recently, however, we’ve been asked to leave our current home as the owner has new plans for it. It’s a beautiful house on a very large plot in the middle of a forest, so we’ve grown very fond of living there. But after 6 years we’re saying goodbye and don’t yet know where we’re headed.
My daughter posed an excellent question to me: What’s the connection between Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job? The first two seem so . . . contradictory. And the book of Job is a saga all its own!
In the 2013 film Man of Steel, young Clark Kent used his super-human strength to save a busload of fellow students from drowning in a river. Clark’s father, who believed the world wasn’t prepared to accept his supernatural son, urged Clark to keep his great strength a secret. He explained to him, “When the world finds out what you can do, it’s going to change everything—our beliefs, our notions of what it means to be human—everything!”
The alarm clock rang promptly at 7 in the morning. Sophie woke up with a bad headache, but she thought nothing of it. She pushed away the covers and got out of bed. Suddenly, as a stroke devastated her brain, darkness descended and she collapsed to the floor. Sadly, situations like this one have been a reality for many people over the years.
On the occasion of billionaire Ted Turner’s 75th birthday last year, a CNN profile opened with these poignant words: “What will matter most about Ted Turner’s life story when they roll the final credits? That he started the first 24-hour news network? Built a fortune once worth $10 billion? Was Time magazine’s Man of the Year? Received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame? Made The New York Times best-seller list? Maybe it was that time he raced a sailboat faster than anyone else. Or the year his baseball team won the World Series. Impressed yet?”
During the summer of 2011, Dave Mull spent nearly 4 hours adrift and alone in the rolling waves of Lake Michigan, clinging only to the handles of a Coleman cooler. The boat Dave had been fishing in had suddenly capsized and sank 5 miles offshore, forcing him and his three companions into the deep, troubled waters. Before Dave became separated from the others, he selflessly surrendered his life jacket to one of his friends who was struggling to hang on to the floating cooler.
Many odd and antiquated laws can be found around the world. In the UK, it’s an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing a British monarch upside-down, and in England specifically, it’s illegal to eat mince pies on the 25th of December. In one US state, women must get written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth. In Milan, it’s a legal requirement to smile at all times—except for funerals and hospital visits.
Two years ago, I held my father’s hand as he drew his last breath. Since then, as I’ve struggled to figure out what a world without Dad looks like, I’ve learned and relearned a few things about grieving.
After telling a Bible story, the teacher asked his Sunday school class, “What’s the name of the beggar?” Six-year-old Tommy confidently shouted, “Lazarus!” The teacher then asked another question: “What is the name of the other man?” Another student shouted, “Rich man!”
Our lives began to fall apart when my daughter took her life,” the woman told me during a break in the conference we were both attending. “And then our second daughter spiraled into depression and started to ‘self-harm.’ After several months we discovered the reason why: While my husband and I were missionaries in Indonesia, two of our three children had been sexually abused at a mission-run school. We had given our lives to serve God. . . . Why didn’t He protect us?” I would hear similar stories at that conference—people who felt betrayed by God.