Monday, August 11, 2008

Sully's Tribute

Sully’s Tribute
I have been following a beautiful little boy that recently lost his battle with cancer. At Sully's celebration of life his uncle said a few very helpful words. Sully's Grandpa has a Caring Bridge site and posted his words there. Even though Makenzie doesn't have cancer I found his words very relavent! Please read this! I think that it applies to all of our lives! Please also pray for The Farr family as they grieve the loss of their 15 month old little prince! We almost walked that road and I can not imagine the grief and pain they are feeling right now! Thank You!

Sully Tribute

August 7, 2008

There is a very popular clothing line out there that sells with the slogan, "Life Is Good." I have always been a big fan of both the slogan and the simple but somehow poignant stick figure illustrations on the shirts, hats, and other products. Most of you have probably seen the ones I'm talking about. I know Jason at least at one time had a Life Is Good shirt, and I've got a few, which I've proudly worn, boasting about my hobbies in stick figure fashion. But times like the last 13 months beg the question, "Is life really good?"

In all honesty, the shirts have begun to rub me the wrong way. I want to take exception to them. The images, activities, and emotions depicted on the products are good: gardening, fishing, hiking, playing ball, reading a book, camping with family, going for a run, etc. But those are only part of life. Those are the good times. Perhaps the shirts should read, "Fishing is good." "Picnicing with family is good." Or "Football is good." Is life as a whole really good?

I want to look at what happened to Sully and say, "I object. Life is not good." Human life, little Sully's life, is sacred, and any existence that ravages my little nephew with Leukemia is not what I would call good. But his smiles are good. His pattycake is good. His grunts, kisses, and laughs are good. His head on your shoulder is good. And then I want to say, "Life is good."

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." All of the good things that make us say, "Life is Good," and that have made that clothing designer wealthy, are from God. God is good, and he gave us so many wonderful gifts in little Sully.

I can buy that, but I can't buy that life is good. Life is decidedly screwed up. One of scripture's themes is how screwed up life is! And in the midst of Sully's suffering, especially during the last two days, I wanted to shake my fist at God and say, "Not only is life screwed up, but you're screwed up since you're in charge of it!" Sully couldn't possibly have earned his suffering. He was diagnosed as an infant. The circumstances takes away all of the Christian excuses for suffering, doesn't it? This is the battle that so many have been in or are currently in.

Yet it is in the midst of such wrestling with God, Jesus grabs me by each ear. He cups his hands around my ears, and he looks me in the eye, and he says, "I know exactly how you feel. I would give anything to end little Sully's suffering, and I would that I could explain all of it to you to your satisfaction. But all I can offer you is my own experience."

Isn't that really what brings us comfort at difficult times? Having someone there, especially someone who is strong and has gone before us to help shoulder the burden? Someone we can go to who knows exactly how we feel and who can cry with us and strengthen us with hope for tomorrow? Jesus does exactly that for us today.

We turn to him because he, like Sully, had done no wrong, had done nothing to earn his suffering. He was an innocent victim. He was in such agony that he was sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading with God to remove the suffering, to provide another way. He, like us, must have felt that this was an odd brand of justice and mercy to suffer so unjustly and relentlessly at the hands of darkness.

The writer of the biblical book of Hebrews wrote, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

How many times did Tabitha and Jason write "Pray!" with an exclamation mark on their website. How any thousands of people were doing just that. People of great faith, but to no avail. Or at least that's how it might appear to some today. Yet the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus' prayers were indeed heard. So Jesus can cup his hands around our ears as we lay our complaints and objections before him and can say, "I know how you are feeling," hug us, and tell us everything will be alright. He has been where we are, and he can testify that everything is indeed alright and will be alright. It was through Jesus' suffering that he brought salvation to all of us. His suffering prayers were heard and answered to the benefit of all of us. At the time of his trials, and certainly at his death, his prayers appeared to be unanswered. No prayer offered for Sully by any person of faith was offered in vain. All of our prayers offered out of reverent submission to God were heard, and God is answering them still in wonderful ways beyond our ability to conceive today. This is what Jesus tells us as we lay our struggling hearts open before him.

We will perhaps never have the answer to the question, "Why?" Yet we can know with certainty that our prayers, and ultimately, Sully's life, were not in vain, that God will turn the evil of Leukemia, of doubts and fears, and the pain of suffering upside down and will accomplish something greater than we can ever hope or imagine if we will lean on him today. He will walk and talk with us from today forward and can handle our questions, our criticism, and our doubts. Only let us insist on turning TO him rather than AWAY from him. He is a partner in our suffering, and though he will not put an end to it, and there will be more after this, he understands our doubts and wants to be there for us as one who has been there himself.

Because of Jesus' great love and his own suffering on our behalf, we can do as he did—as the apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:23, "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." In our suffering, let us follow Christ, he who holds us as we wrestle and weep, and entrust ourselves to our just God, even when we don't understand.

Job, in the midst of his great suffering said, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." Our God will redeem Sully's suffering and the suffering of those who love him and his family, just as He redeemed his own suffering and the suffering of his Son. He who loved us enough to put himself through a lifetime of suffering, will not leave us in our suffering.

The apostle Peter also wrote, and it is my conviction, that "the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

God's blessings,

Sully's Paw


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