Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sister's Tears

I cried tonight for Hannah.

I cried tonight because I heard her laughing at the angels flying above her head, and to make her feel better I had to pretend to see them too.

I cried tonight because I used to tuck Hannah in goodnight when I was little. I would read her books. I would sing songs to her for hours. I would think up funny words so she would laugh.

I cried tonight because I thought of something I used to pray every single night for over eight years. "God, please touch Hannah and heal her." I wanted to see her walk and hear her talk. I wanted to play with her, teach her how to ride a bike and put on makeup. I wanted it for me; I wanted it for my parents; I wanted it for Hannah.

I cried tonight because I couldn't feel any angels in that room, but there were plenty of demons waiting for me in my room. Like predators hiding in the shadows.

I cried tonight because of a truth I know deep down but I refuse to accept. Hannah's slowly deteriorating health. Time ticking by slowly. Her thirteenth birthday in just a couple weeks.

I cried because of the very thought of saying goodbye.

And I cried tonight because I realized I have not emotionally and mentally braced myself for that day.

And I don't want to. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to brace myself for anything. I just want to keep singing to her and sharing laughs with her. I don't even want to consider an inevitable future where I will no longer hear Hannah's laughter.

I...just...refuse to let the thought enter my head. I brushed it tonight and it almost crushed me.

And I cried tonight because I am my least favorite person on earth, and I can feel the demons in my room right this minute, and I can't shake off sin's grip on my shoulders nowadays, and my throat is slowly closing up. And I cried because even someone as wretched and unworthy as I has been given the incredible gift that is to know my little sister. I cried because of my darkness, and Hannah's light.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An abiding joy

[Written by my dad in August 2004:]

There is little that shines a bright ray of supernatural light quite like a display of joy in the middle of difficulty or dark circumstances. The average person can be joyful when things go well, as planned, or better than expected. But there’s something extraordinary - maybe divine - about someone who is joyful when life deals out stress, pain, or unfortunate circumstances. This is why the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church: “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Abiding joy is a powerful witness of God’s power in a person’s life. The Old Testament prophet Habbakuk wrote about the source of this joy:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”
- Habakkuk 3:17-19

Perhaps this is seen most clearly in the 19-century hymn-writer Francis Jane “Fanny” Crosby. She was blind from infancy, yet wrote over 9000 hymns plus 1000 secular poems and songs, including “Blessed Assurance,” and “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.” As one reads Fanny’s biography, it is clear that the source of her ministry was a deep, abiding joy, which was found in something beyond circumstances. This joy is evident in her first poem, written when she was eight years old:

O what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy, That other people don't.
To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't!

This joy despite circumstances is also displayed in Hannah’s countenance. Unless she’s sick, in pain, or sleeping, she has a quick, contagious smile and a joyful sound in her voice. Sue and I often hear her making her “joy sound” (sort of a laughter) when in her bed alone at night. Even when she’s not feeling well, she will smile that joyful, “I’m glad to see you” smile. Granted - Hannah is most likely not fully aware of her condition. Hannah probably doesn’t realize who she is and what her situation is. She probably has not consciously chosen to be joyful despite her difficulties. If you quote Habakkuk 3:17-19 to Hannah, she probably won’t understand what you’re saying. Nevertheless, her joy shines a light to others.

A troubled teenager once met Hannah, caught her smile, and said, “Wow - I think I have problems. Here’s Hannah, with all her problems, and she’s happy. Wow.” That’s the point. That teenager was given some perspective that day. That’s the effect of an abiding joy. That’s the effect of Hannah’s Light.