|Like two colors of flowers on the same plant a lot of life seems to make no sense.|
I was just getting ready to hit the door and do some grocery shopping when the pastor of my church called. "Hi Patty" he said in his normal fashion. "Hi John. What's up Pastor?" I replied. "I am afraid I have some bad news." he said. I was already imagining that one of our elder members had passed away and was prepared to hear the news, but what he said next sent my mind into a spiral and my heart broke in to shards like a glass jar cast onto a stone floor...."Hotaru took his own life Sunday evening" . It hit me so hard I had to sit down. To put how shocking this was to me into perspective for you, when my brother phoned to tell me my sixty nine year old father died I took the news standing up. He was older, I was seemingly somewhat more prepared for that news, but this, this came out of nowhere.
|Always loving to be in the picture, a life now lost|
Hotaru was a young man, full of life and strength and spirit, who loved to sing and play is "giter" (guitar). He was the kind of person who lit up a room with his smile. We loved him, his passion, his ability to share his heart with us and his burden for his Japan, his silliness (yes it was a gift to us). I can still hear his "Hello Pattyee!" as we greeted one another and his huge smile that it seems, too well hid the demons that haunted him.
Hotaru was student, studying to become a pastor in who hopes of returning to his native Japan to serve as a pastor to the people he loved most. My pastor and his family have known each other for many years and Hotaru was a part of our fellowship and we watched over him like a son. We had seen him walk through some deep emotional times but always rise again to a place of hope and faith. What we could not see that somewhere in the recesses of his mind despair had laid a foothold somehow but it seems we may never know what that was as he left us no parting note, no message to explain what he was thinking.
Upon hearing the news I felt numb and shaken at the same time, my mind running at warp speed to try and wrap this up in some tidy understandable package...but there was no tidying this up, no understanding why; it made no sense! How were we to ever know when he did not appear to be in trouble but seemed to be doing well? Over and over again I am looking at what he did that was so different this time from previous times that would have sent a signal that we somehow missed...that flag of help we missed.
His family is flying in from Japan and will be here for the next few days to gather their son and take him home. They will be with us this Sunday and I long to see them, to let them know how I grieve with them and how I too loved their son. O how my mother's heart grieves for his mother as I too have a son and cannot imagine such a thing happening. I weep deeply for her, for her loss and with his entire family. I weep for his father who had such hope for his son who was following in his footsteps willingly and passionately...and for his sister who has lost the companionship of her brother. How painful this must be.
How are we to ever reconcile in our hearts and minds I don't fully know. We may never be able to as there is no note and no clear clue left behind. How does a mother, father, brothers or sisters, friends or others make sense of any of this? For me personally I have only one thing I can cling to...that God is the only one besides Hotaru that knows what happened and why. For me this is enough and is helping me to realize I cannot feel guilty for things hidden from my eyes. That may sound rather cut and dried but it is the truth that I know that guards my heart from displacing guilt onto my shoulders when there is non for me to carry.
|Where is the sense in this thing?|
The enemy of my faith would love to have me feel guilty, but I refuse to listen. My sweet brother in Christ hid away from us all that which would make us otherwise accountable. So I will instead stand with the psalmist David in trusting in my God whose ways are not like the ways of man...and who somehow brings good out of very ugly situations over and over again. David writes in Psalm 27:13 "I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living." A confession of faith in the One who never changes, who knows the number of our days, who sees all things hidden...who knows the true intention of the heart of a man and who will not share his glory with another.
So often blame is laid on God for things that bring us pain. He may have foreknowledge of things that will happen but that does not mean it pleases him that they do happen. He grieves for those lost, for the mother in her pain, the father as he casts his last glance upon the face of his beloved son.
|His blessings are found in the midst of the storm|
A few years ago I penned some lyrics in a song about life..."You see life isn't easy, you see life isn't fair"...this truly seems to be most unfair for those of us left behind. However, I am reminded that God's economy is not like mine, like ours. There is no "fair" as we define fairness in God's economy. He does things his way, uses things we think impossibly horrid and produces immeasurable blessing in our lives. I have seen it in my own life over and over and over again as I walked through things I never dreamed I would have to endure.
Laura Story wrote a song that has great comfort in its lyrics and become one of my favorites as it speaks so well of this love God has and His blessings wrought out of great trials. We so often look at trials as anything but blessings when often they are God's greatest blessing to us causing us to draw us nearer to Him and what could be better than that?. I pray this unimaginable thing we have born witness to will do the same for Hotaru's family and all who knew Hotaru, and for his Japan.
Rest in peace my Brother...I miss you.
Blessings, by Laura Story