Our family participated in three funerals this week.
A closely bundled trio of funerals bends one’s thoughts in uncomfortable directions. How stubbornly I insist — we all insist — on leaning on spiderwebs. On people and things we take for granted today, forgetting they could be mere memories tomorrow: a slide show at the front of the church. An empty chair at the table.
Cancer felled one friend, a man of strong faith; well loved by all who knew him. He left too soon and too young. “This is not the answer we prayed for,” said someone, during his funeral. “We wonder…did healing occur?”
That’s a question Deborah Shelton can answer — now. For eight years the wife of dramatist, David Shelton, watched her husband’s slow deterioration. He had Alzheimer’s Disease, caused by a blow to the head while snowmobiling.
She and their children never stopped praying, not even when healing didn’t come.
The disease eventually removed him from the stage. Hear Deborah: “We are peaceful as to the Lord’s will and His perfect timing as to when He heals David: now or upon his entrance to heaven. For 8 years we’ve prayed that God would choose to heal David now, but it’s seeming that His will is not to, and who am I to question Him?”
Miracles happen sometimes. Everyone knows that. Everyone hopes for that. But anyone who is a Christ-follower also knows (admit it or not) that God seems to show up in some places and not others. And it doesn’t seem fair, does it, that an innocent child dies in tortured pain at the hand of a pair of vile murderers, while a crusty old sinner, cranky and bitter, outlives all his contemporaries — then dies in his sleep.
Deep puzzles line the walk of faith. Honesty demands that we admit them to God. That, like a child finding a knife too sharp to handle, we bring them into the light and allow him to hold them for us.
David Shelton died eight days after Deborah wrote the above statement on her husband’s CaringBridge website.
The Bible is clear on this: God honors faith, but God is not faith’s puppet. He is the faith-or, not the faith-ee. His thoughts and ways are far above ours. He holds answers we cannot now comprehend. He owes us no explanation.
Just as any loving human parent, I believe our Heavenly Father aches over his children’s wounds. I believe he lovingly soothes each ache, dresses each wounds and heals every disease, soul and body. All.
But as he did for each of our friends, and as he did for David Shelton, God heals some of those wounds on the other side of heaven’s gate. And there, any remaining questions will find answers, and all joy will return.
Cling to that truth — no matter how many funerals batter you.