“Tell me can you stand the rain?”
Have you ever had a conversation with God that went something like this:
Me: God, I’m a good person. I go to church. I pray. I do good things. Why did (fill in the blank) happen to me?
Well, Matthew 5:45 is your answer. Let’s take a look – “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
There it is, no matter how unfair you think that statement may be. We all go through things we think are unfair – failed relationships, failed jobs, losses of loved ones. You get the picture.
“Storms will come. This we know for sure.”
I recently attended two funerals in two days. One was an acquaintance whom I made a home loan to he and his wife many years ago when I worked at a competitor bank in the area. George was confined to a wheel chair when I first met him. It was the result of a fall from a ladder while working in a warehouse for the world’s largest retailer. He was only 30 years old when it happened, but from what I understand never carried a grudge against the company. In fact, he went back to work for them for a short time and produced safety videos that are apparently still shown to this day.
George lived nearly half of his life paralyzed before passing away suddenly due to an infection in his system at the age of 57. After I finished their home loan, they had my wife Rebekah do the landscaping on their new house and our daughter Caroline was still little enough that she road on Mr. George’s lap in his motorized wheel chair like a carnival ride whenever they would visit he and his wife at their new home.
Another connection to their family was with their daughter Ashley. She worked at an animal hospital, and we eventually adopted our pet poodle Paris because Ashley contacted us when Paris was left anonymously at her place of employment late one night.
George was a very nice man who didn’t complain or bemoan the fact he was paralyzed. He carried himself with confidence and pride. He left behind a saddened, wonderful family, but more importantly he left this world a better place.
“On a perfect day, I know that I can count on you.”
The other funeral was the unfortunate service for a 17 year old friend of my daughter’s named Thomas, who took his own life. Thomas was a tortured soul his final few years, but I love the thought that his Camp WarEagle counselor left us with, and I’m paraphrasing, but he said that while Thomas battled demons in his mind, his heart was where it needed to be and he knew his Lord and Savior in his heart.
We attend the same church as his family does and my daughter and he became friends a few years ago attending youth group together, and even attending the same school for a short time. My daughter said that she always hoped that others could see the Thomas that she saw. It was a beautiful sentiment and his death, as tragic as it was, did result in good as Thomas helped save lives through the generosity of his decision to be an organ donor. According to his father, an estimated 60 lives were touched following his death.
The funeral service was hard. His parents spoke with a grace and a strength that goes beyond understanding. They were pulling power from a higher source. You have to, in my opinion, if you’re speaking at the funeral of your child. It’s never easy when someone that young dies. But in reality my grandmother Ruby (God bless her and her 101 years on this planet to date) said it best when she said that no parent should have to bury a child… no matter how old that child is.
I hope Thomas found that peace he was constantly in search of, and I hope his mother, father, brothers, and sister find a peace as they carry his memory through this life without him.
“When that’s not possible, tell me can you weather the storm?”
Loss and hardships do produce one thing. Appreciation. Appreciation for family, for friends, for health, for employment, etc., etc. Appreciation for late 80’s fly, blue suits! We can’t make it through difficult times alone. We need spouses and family and friends to turn to in our times of struggle and strife. We were made to be relational. Thank God.
I also thank God for this beautiful 1987 ballad by New Edition which was written and produced by the legendary duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The group was coming through a storm themselves having lost Bobby Brown to a solo career. They recruited long time friend Johnny Gill to replace Brown, and then with the help of Jam and Lewis produced 51 minutes and 41 seconds of magic called the “Heart Break” album.
This particular song was a #1 hit on the US R&B Singles chart and remains one of their most popular ballads. The video itself makes me want to go buy a cape or whatever the guys are wearing at the beginning and end of this video. With the newly acquired Johnny Gill on lead vocals, it’s one of my all time favorite R&B groups – New Edition asking that all important question we ask of ourselves and others – “Can You Stand the Rain?”
Thanks for reading and know that if you’re going through a storm or having a rainy day that a sunny day is just around the corner and things will get better.
R.I.P. George and Thomas. You two will be missed.