I’m starting to feel a little guilty as I sit here pathetically pitying myself for the way my life is turning and twisting right now. I feel guilty because a family friend unexpectedly passed away this week. She would not be pathetically pitying herself as I am at this moment. She was a woman of strong faith–enormous faith. She was handed innumerable curves on her pathway and she left the earth with mild complaint and confirming she knew she had been watched over each step of the way in her life. That doesn’t seem so amazing until you know her background.
Ellie endured a divorce at a time when the word, d-i-v-o-r-c-e, was not spoken and had five children to deal with single handedly. One of her sons was born with a heart condition that deprived him of oxygen at birth and left him with physical challenges. Ellie lost her young and only daughter to cancer just as she was embarking on the adventure of motherhood. Ellie married again and her second husband succumbed to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease shortly after the death of her daughter. Years later the son with the heart condition passed away during his prime as his body could give no more, and not too long ago Ellie’s third husband endured an unexpected stroke. As Ellie cared for him she learned she had a fast-moving breast cancer, but that was not even the cause of her death. She had kidney issues and was under-going treatment. A germ entered her body that was stronger than she. This little germ had more power than Ellie had left after years of fighting off sadness and pain that we can not imagine.
The fact is, if you met Ellie, you would have had no idea she had so many moments of serious crisis in her life. It’s not that she was unaffected. She had an abiding faith in Jesus Christ and allowed Him to carry her through each and every tragedy that life presented to her. It was often said when someone was experiencing difficulty that when they thought of Ellie’s life they realized how really fortunate they were. I’m glad God handed that role out to the right person. I am blessed in even my darkest circumstances. I am blessed to have known Ellie and to witness how strong faith really has the potential to be if you let it. Not just a believing faith, but a faith that is active. A faith that knows no matter what I am served, God is watching over me, will never leave me, nor forget me. He is walking with me. The fact that God allows us to have the trials we do speaks to His purpose though we are told that we can become more faithful through them. Frankly, I must not have learned enough since my last one!
Though not a Psalm, there is a Bible passage that is quite meaningful in face of struggle from Matthew 6 (The Message)
25-26“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
And finally the Psalm read at Ellie’s funeral- Psalm 23:
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Here’s to Ellie. God bless you.