I received a text message from my mother on Monday that a family friend had passed away. She was a young lady who had lived much of her life in a comatose state. I will probably get some of these details wrong, but when she was about 4 years old, her parents realized that she was falling down more than usual. This led to many doctors appointments in which it was eventually discovered that she had a tumor on her brain. A surgery was needed, but very risky. I can't imagine the decisions that a young couple would need to make at that time. Choose surgery or your child dies. Choose surgery and it could drastically affect your child's life. The surgery was performed and she wound up in a comatose state for the last 35 years.
As I heard about her passing, I immediately thought about what I would say to her parents. How do you comfort someone who for the past 35 years has taken care of a young woman who couldn't take care of herself? What would I say to someone who lost their child once and now lost her again in death? As I was seeking for answers to their potential questions, I found myself meditating on a few thoughts.
1. God Greatly Cared For Your Daughter!
This is something the world doesn't understand. How can we say that God greatly cared for a young woman who ended up having this horrible tragedy in her life? How can something like a brain tumor which results in the loss of motor functions and "life as we know it" be an example of God's care? It is because God says He cares for someone like her.
In God's dealings with the prophet Jonah, He makes a very pointed statement about His care and concern for those who are unable to cognitively understand even the basic functions of life. In response to Jonah's pity-party about God's mercy on the repentant in Nineveh, God says,
"And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 person who do not know their right hand from their left?" (Jonah 4:11)
God confirms that it was right for Him to have pity on the 120,000 people in the city of Nineveh that didn't understand the difference between their left hand and their right hand. This was a signal of their mental capacity to understand. If you have children, you know the big day in their life when they finally understand that the right shoe goes on the right foot and the left shoe goes on the left foot. We can all remember when we have asked them to raise their right hand and the left goes up.
We learn from Jonah that God is more merciful than we are. We are shown the heart of God for those who do not yet know or are unable to tell the difference of something as simple as right from left. I would take this to include not only very young children, but also older children or adults with mental handicaps that keep them from even comprehending the basics of life.
2. God Spared Her From The World!
Think about it for a second. She never had to struggle with a desire of whether she was too thin or too fat. She never felt the abandonment of friends. She never had that feeling that her life would never be complete without the latest iPod Touch. She never found her identity in having the newest line of clothing with a famous designer on it. She was never hurt by some stupid boy. She was spared from the lure of the things of the world. I think it is even fair to say that God spared her in this world from herself. Don't we all need that sort of protection?
And in doing this, God reminds us that this place is just passing away. He reminds us from her life that everything is pointing towards eternity. Living for the here and now is shallow living. In many ways, her struggle on this earth was so much greater than the vast majority of people who live 72.5 years of perfect health. God can and does use her as His instrument to remind us that our life is not about the world.
3. God Chose You To Care For Her!
I know you know this, but there was no accident in her illness. Satan didn't win this battle. There was nothing you went through these past 35 years that He did not provide the grace to get through the day. I can't imagine what you went through. I am sure most people who read this can't. But I wonder if we also can't understand the grace and mercy that you have received over the past 35 years. He has provided each day perfectly for your own spiritual transformation. You have felt his mercies new every morning in ways we haven't.
Someday, you will see her again. I fully believe that (see #1 above & read this book). But until that time, God isn't finished with you. She didn't die early or late. Nobody does. Take great comfort in that.