About six years ago a friend of mine, due a freak spinal defect, became a quadriplegic. For years this young mother of three survived because of the advances of modern medicine; feeding and tracheotomy tubes, high tech wheel chairs and the like. She required round the care nursing and countless doctor’s appointments. For years I have prayed for this friend and I always knew that God would use her somehow. Maybe he would heal her one day and she just would get up and walk (I prayed confidently for that knowing God is fully capable of that). Perhaps like Joni Erickson Tada, my friend would start a ministry to help others find purpose and meaning in the unthinkable. I did not know how God was going to use her suffering, trial and unimaginable struggle but I was confident He would and prayed vehemently for that.
Last week my friend passed away. My heart is broken for the three girls she left behind, her husband and her family and I was left last week asking many questions of God. This is it? This is how her suffering ends? With all respect Father, this was your plan? This is the legacy she leaves? Lord, WHY? I asked why for three days and then God reminded me; don’t ask “why;” ask “what now?”
And after a lot of thought and prayer, I came up with a few “what now’s?” If I were Jenny and heard some of the things I complain about, saw some of the ways I feel sorry for myself or watched the things I get upset about, I would have to ask that age old question of me…, Really? If I were Jenny and watched me wallow around the house for the past several days asking God, “why” and looking at life and the universe through my little myopic lens instead of being thankful for every day God has given me breath and health and life in Him, I would have to be disgusted with me. And if I were Jenny I would look me square in the eyes most days and say to me, “How dare you?” If I were Jenny I believe I would have very little patience or empathy for any able bodied woman (me) to be whining (about nothing), being angry with loved ones (usually over nothing) or taking life for granted (when I have so much to be thankful for).
“Dear Lord, Thank you for Jenny. Thank you for using her for your purposes even though it maybe didn’t look like I thought it might (you know how I always think You should consult me about these matters, but You don’t seem to need my help). Thank you that most of us will not leave a legacy in some grandiose way, but by your grace, we will leave a lasting legacy to those you have allowed to be in our sphere of influence and that is the kind of legacy that really matters. Thank you that you used Jenny to teach so many of us about choosing joy, finding perspective and having gratitude in all circumstances. Help me to do everything without complaining and help me to keep my “problems” in perspective in Jenny’s honor. Thank you that You have used Jenny for Your purposes and that Jenny’s life has made a difference in so many people’s lives. Please give her a hug from me. Amen.”