A good friend of mine, a former piano teacher, had lost her father to an unexpected and sudden house fire. She and her sister lost everything. Their mother had passed away several years back. And now they had lost their father as well.
My teacher has been a wonderful friend to me since I was a teenager. She helped me realize my dream to pursue music and get prepared for the difficult college auditions.
She has helped me financially too in several mission trips I have been blessed to undertake. She has been a teacher to me in more ways than just helping me improve my pianistic abilities.
When I heard what had happened I was grieved. To lose anyone is difficult but to lose them so tragically is a pain beyond words.
At the funeral I cried. I wasn't planning on crying and I was embarrassed to have tears falling when it was my turn to give my condolences to my friend. I didn't want to make her or her relatives feel any worse.
The service was beautiful. But many of the preacher's words touched me deeply. My heart was so tender that all I could do was try to control my tears. I couldn't sing during any of the hymns. The music, the words, ... all I could do was silently pray.
And after a time, I decided to step out and visit the ladies room and get ahold of my emotions. By God's grace no one else was in there and nobody entered the entire time I was inside. But the enemy was not kind to me. Thoughts of how I should be stronger and not so weak kept hitting me. Thoughts of how I should be embarrassed about my tears and how I shouldn't have gone by myself to the funeral in the first place kept upsetting me. So I prayed and asked God for endurance and peace. And He granted them to me. Up until then I wasn't sure I could stay for the remainder of the service, let alone go to the interment.
But God brought truth to my mind:
" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
~ Philippians 4:13
I started regaining emotional strength. I was able to attend the luncheon that followed the service and talk with others. And I was able to speak with my friend again without any tears. Praise the Lord!
Then everyone proceeded to the burial site. My vehicle and I were at the end of the line. And as I drove I began to doubt. Did I really belong there? Would I be able to handle what was coming next? Could I just leave? No one would notice I didn't continue with the group. I was bringing up the tail end anyhow.
And then I realized that my friend and her family were burying their father the day before Father's Day! It was too tragic for me to handle. And God spoke to me again:
" My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness..."
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
I knew that I had to continue. Even if it hurt. Because I needed to know through experience that God is greater than my pain. And being present at the funeral wasn't for my sake but for my friend.
And God helped me override the barrage of emotions as I pushed on. The first couple of steps on the manicured lawn were difficult. But then I looked up and saw that everyone else around me seemed to be walking with the same heaviness and I realized that facing the reality of death isn't easy for anyone. By the time I arrived to the grave site I was myself again.
God really helped me through those hours. There is a lesson in all of this. God desires to help you and all of us through the times when we really can't make it on our own. It doesn't matter that it seems everyone around you can "deal" with their pain better than you. What matters is that you turn to the only true source of strength.
Immediately after the funeral I remembered that I was expected at the birthday party of another good friend that same afternoon. I didn't feel like partying in any way, shape, or form. But I had already said yes to the invitation a few weeks back. The funeral had been unexpected and last minute. So I decided it would be good to keep my word and if I felt too tired or sad I would only stay for a short while. And then God spoke to me:
" Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep."
~ Romans 12:15
So I quickly changed clothes and went to the party. And I had a wonderful time. Beautiful memories were given to me by God that day and I don't regret the pain or the happiness now. And that's life, isn't it? People live and die everyday and as we get older we will experience these to greater levels. But God promises to be with us through everything we face in life.
When you want to run away... don't do it. God is there with you. If you can just hold onto Him a little-bit longer He will bring you to a place of victory.