Church was canceled this past Sunday as was just about everything else around here. Ice has a way of convincing us to stay inside by the fire.
Beginning Tuesday, March 6, our next 13-week GriefShare seminar starts. In lieu of a sermon, there is a story that relates to grief that follows. I hope that you find it of some value.
I was sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. As my custom is I was reading a book. Just then a woman walked up to another who was sitting two seats away from me. She said, “Are you still working at (wherever it was)? I haven’t seen you there lately?” I glanced up and just then the woman replied, “No, I had to quit. I just couldn’t do it, work, I mean.” There was a little pause, a momentary silence as the two women eyed each other. Then the second woman said, “My son died.” Another pause. “Well, he died suddenly…of a heart attack.” Another pause as the woman tried to remain calm. “Actually their house burned down and he died of a heart attack.”
It was such an awful thing to listen to. But, she wasn’t done. There was more. She continued, “Then, two months ago his son, my son that died, was shot in the head.” She quickly interjected, “It was accidental. He’s still alive but he has a lot of problems.” And, finally, “I just couldn’t go to work anymore.” Her voice trailed off and she looked down not wanting anyone to respond. The other woman stood there for a moment and then left.
My eyes welled up, a lump was in my throat as thoughts of what had happened tumbled through my mind. I couldn’t begin to imagine what she was going through. Immediately, silently I prayed for her. And her family. And her grandson. My mind was reeling. Old memories resurrected themselves as I tried to put everything in perspective.
That’s what tragedy does to you. It comes back and revisits you again and again. You look for something to hang onto. Something to keep you from suddenly going adrift and not finding the shores of sanity again. My anchor is a strange one. God helped me find it one day standing in a skating rink keeping an eye on my son.
As the custom is parents stand around, visit and talk about their kids. A man about the same age as the rest of us was there, too. He’s not saying much so I ask, “Which one is yours?” He replied, “None of them. I’m here by myself. Which one is yours?” I pointed to my son and as we talked I explained that he had lost his dad and uncle (my husband and brother) in the past year and we were struggling to keep going. That’s when he told me his story.
It happened some years ago. His wife was a bus driver for the school. It was up north somewhere. Anyway, her bus stalled on the tracks and was hit by a train. It was back in the days when warnings on railroad crossings were few. I told him how sorry I was to hear it. Did he have any kids? He said he did but they were on the bus. They were killed, too. He and his wife had four. They were all he had in this world. The next thing he said was that he had been raised in an orphanage and, when he was old enough, he went into the Army. That’s when he met and married his wife.
I asked him how he did it–kept going on. This is what he said. “I always remember that there’s someone else who has had it worse than I have. And if you look around, you’ll find plenty of people who have. And they’re making it.” With that he skated off.
It got me to thinking. My sorrows are a drop in the bucket compared to all the misery that’s ever been suffered on this earth. God was good and gracious to offer mankind eternity–a place where we’ll see those we loved again. And that we won’t have to suffer as we have here.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him,” (I Thessalonians 4:13,14.)
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you,” (John 17:20-22.)
You can visit us at our website swedenchurch.com. It is complete with audios of the sermons. Pastor Joshua Strong can also be heard on our radio program which is on KKOZ 92.1 FM at 8:05 a.m. Sunday mornings. Better yet, come and hear Brother Josh live. Sunday morning service begins at 11 a.m. (Sunday school is at 10 a.m.) and evening service begins at 6 p.m. Bible study is Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. except for our business meeting which is held the second Wednesday of each month. Sweden Church is east of Ava about 10 miles on Highway 14 and then left onto 14-219 a quarter-mile. Services are at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays.