“And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in” – Bernie Taupin, Elton John
Here’s how I’ll remember my friend. The Centurian chest thump and salute when greeting his thespian friends. The look of joy on his face when playing his guitar in worship. The kindness in his voice when speaking with the middle schoolers in his small group. Star Trek and Star Wars quotes. The Bagpipes. His Laugh.
Two weeks ago many of us received word of a dear friend taking his own life. Darkness became very real that day. The anguish, shock, sadness, confusion, and other emotions I felt were powerful. A punch to the gut. But none of what I felt could have come close to what his wife, daughter, and family undoubtedly dealt with. And are still experiencing. My heart aches for them.
Why? Why did he do this? Why didn’t we see what he was going through? And how? How long must he have been suffering? How could he do this to his family? How could God allow this to happen?
Many heart-torn and broken questions but no answers. Perhaps our questions will never be answered. And that allows the loss to linger. Longer than any of us would like. The sting of death was deep, as deep as the ocean, as we mourned our friend.
The older I get, the more family and friends I seem to be saying goodbye to and to be honest I’m very tired of it. And I’m angry. Not angry with the person I’m missing and not angry with God but angry at the darkness that is in our world. It seems to overcome all that is good, it seems to overwhelm the light. Darkness, in all its shades, seems to be the ruler of our world.
But during my friend’s celebration of life service, in the midst of watching his family lean upon each other, and in the sadness all of us were sharing, I was reminded of one thing. The main thing actually that can sustain us through the darkness.
We’re not promised answers to our questions. We’re not promised easy lives. But we are promised, as hard as it may be to understand at times, that no matter what we go through, we have a God whose grace is sufficient. Grace that covers all our pain. That will ease our burden. Grace that will light our way through the darkness. That will carry us when we can’t carry ourselves.
One of my favorite songs has the following lyrics describing this grace:
“It’s deeper, it’s wider, it’s stronger, it’s higher than anything my eyes can see.”
Just as we cannot always see what our loved ones are going through, our eyes cannot see the depth, width, and breadth of love that is surrounding us in both life and death. A never-ending grace and love. His grace truly is sufficient if we accept it. If we take it in.
The song Oceans was sung during the service. It gave me hope and comfort in understanding that God is God and His grace is sufficient for all of us, even a friend that took his own life. One day this invisible grace will become sight and we’ll see the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.” – Oceans, Hillsong United
See you down the road.