In my life, I’ve almost come to expect happiness. I serve a God who works in big and powerful ways. And daily, he performs miracles– big and small– that not only bring forth his kingdom in our world, but also make my life pretty darn miraculous. And I admit: I’ve become complacent in my comfortable life. And I started to expect happy endings, miracles, my prayers answered all wrapped up in a big red bow.
But on Friday, something happened to tear down that facade. To show me that I am not in control of my world. God is.
Last Friday, my childhood friend Jen Burgess Thompson died in a Florida hospital, thousands of miles from home and more devastating, thousands of miles from her precious sons who now face their lives without a mother. No happy ending. No miracle. No big red bow.
And I’m left wondering what possible purpose could God have in that? In so much heartbreak, so much pain? In so much despair.
And then I think about Jen.
Her life on earth may not have ended happy, but it ended strong. It ended with an incredible amount of courage and tenacity. It ended with eternal hope.
Over the past year, I’ve followed Jen’s blog as she battled a debilitating illness. Where many would’ve shrunk into themselves, Jen reached out. She courageously fought hard for her life, all while openly trusting God that His will be done.
And while she faced unfathomable pain, unbelievable fear, incredible despair, I clearly saw a light shining through her. God used Jen’s journey to draw people to him. And Jen let Him use her. She didn’t despair, she hoped. She didn’t complain, she smiled. She didn’t rant and rave and scream “why me?”, she trusted the God who created her for an eternal purpose. A God who had a plan for her in spite of the terrible journey she faced.
And while I still can’t quite wrap my mind around this unhappy ending, I can say that I hope that I can learn to be like Jen. To let God’s light shine through me in spite of my circumstances, to trust God’s eternal purpose in spite of my pain.
Because God didn’t promise us happy endings. But he did promise us the right ending.
And in a world where so many are lost and in pain and in despair, Jen’s courageous, strong and trusting ending shines bright. It shines powerful. It shines just like God intended. Because she was willing to let her light shine.