Monday, March 21, 2011

Reflections on God and Suffering from Cathy Benson...a woman who has seen both.

Today's post is from another voice gathered around the Firelight, guest contributor, Cathy Benson. Cathy is a writer for the Botetourt View in Daleville, Virginia, a United Methodist Youth Director at Fincastle UMC and my dear friend. Knowing a little bit about Cathy's story, I asked her to respond to the following question:

“If we believe we worship the One who can calm a storm with a word (Matthew 8:23-27), then how are we to respond when it seems He allows the storm to rage?”

I pray you will be blessed by her courage and the journey she shares with us today. Thank you, my friend.

* * *

I became a widow at 33. Bobby drove out of my life on a January Tuesday morning at 8:15 a.m. He was killed in a car crash at 1:20 p.m. I never saw him again. My boss was a preacher’s wife named Betty and her husband Gene went to the hospital to identify the remains. What a tough job a pastor can have on oh so many levels.

Gene came back to my living room and cried. We had a closed casket as I could not bear to remember Bobby as anything but how he was vibrantly alive. Gene helped with the funeral service as did our pastor Arthur and my father’s pastor Ron. All three knew Bobby well.

I told my three- year- old daughter Brittany that her Daddy had died and we wouldn’t see him anymore and I assured her that Jesus would fix him in heaven. She said “Why can’t Jesus just send us a new Daddy?” My son Brian was only 15 months old. Six months after Bobby died Brian asked me, “Who is that man in the picture?” What a travesty the bad times in life are for a child.

Faith got me through. I have been A Christian since I w as 14—40 years this summer! Life goes on. I remarried. I had two more kids and my husband George was a good father and step father as the four have grown up. I have every faith that Jesus did heal Bobby in heaven.

Yet we have to be careful as Christians. Bobby had been mistreated by church members when he was a child – his mother was not married to his father and he had a dark birth mark on his leg. The church ladies treated him as a dirty little boy during a bible school week at a country church. He didn’t believe in God for years after that. I think all of us should examine our “holier than though ways” whether that is dealing with the gay issue, the racial issue or other denominations within our own Christian religion. Too many people are spinning the hate of God rather than the love of God and it can have long term unintended results.

Bobby was baptized in the United Methodist Church two years before he died on a confession of faith. We were married for 11 years. We dated for 4 years prior, before I ever got Bobby inside a church and that was for our wedding. Thankfully, the Lord surrounded him with Christian friends in Texas and Virginia and our bout with infertility took me back to church with him kicking and screaming in tow. But the Lord had a plan for him and it was for him to be saved and a member of the Kingdom of God.

I will always be sad about his death and I will miss him until the day I die. I will always praise God for saving him. After Bobby’s death, I tried my best to fill in, as did George. It was not until this Christmas that my older two children, Bobby’s daughter and son said how rough it was not to have your own father. That George was good, but like Splenda—sweet-- but you can’t replace the taste of real sugar. I was sad, very sad but over the past couple of months have pondered a response.

Jesus said life would be hard. He never promised that following him would be easy—look what happened to the disciples, but his Word carried on. It has for over 2,000 years carried by many who suffered, but all who have His love. Jesus is the single most important character in religion or history. He was the love of God on Earth sacrificed for our sins. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

I argue that the love of God will get us through anything and pray one day they will see that HE loves them unconditionally. He has always been there to love them for their missing earthly father and has guided them through a step father. No, they didn’t get the best start, but many have it far worse and in the end, if you believe that Jesus Christ offered Himself for all of us that no matter the disease, car crash or just old age, you too will be healed in the Kingdom of God. That is what the love of God does for us. It offers each of us a place in eternity with those we love who have gone on before and to wait for those we left behind. It offers each of us on earth a refuge from the bad days, a leg up on the worst day because of the promise of tomorrow—sheltered in love. Most importantly, one day I will join Bobby and all of my kin in heaven-- singing and praising the Holy name of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit. Eternity with God is the place to be and I have my eye on the prize! Amen

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful testimony Cathy, so true to you and your story.