Thoughts on “Being There”

Today, my thoughts are vacillating between life and death: the joy of life and the utter sorrow of death. Especially death of an infant.

I received news that the 4-month-old nephew of a dear friend just passed away. I don’t know the mom and dad. But my heart aches for them. And it aches for my friend and her parents. How on earth does one deal with the death of an infant?

My Kenyan friends say, “Those things happen.” But they shouldn’t! How do we reconcile our faith in a loving God with the death of a baby? Perhaps in the mere fact that the little boy’s birth in and of itself was a miracle and pure grace. For that, I thank God.

On the other side of the world, in Sri Lanka, a friend from college days gave birth to a baby girl. I wish I could see my friend with her baby and celebrate life with them.

I want to be there to celebrate with my friends, to get to know my 1-year-old niece, to mourn the death of a nephew with another friend. But with friends and family scattered around the globe, it’s impossible to be there for them.

Where is there, after all? There, too often, is far too far.

I can’t help but think, “But I’m there for Obed who has learning difficulties and who truly finds joy in playing with my chameleon. I’m there for Dennis who went to school for the first time today and beamed when I rejoiced with him. I’m there for our visitors who try and figure out where God is leading them. And yesterday, when a neighbor had to walk miles to see a doctor, I was there to give him a ride. I was there to hold Ruthu this week as she fell asleep, learning to trust…”

Sometimes, I don’t know what God truly expects of us. But at the same time, I do. “Bear one another’s burdens,” the Bible teaches us. So, in whichever ways I can, I shall do that, thankful that my friends and family understand that it does mean, at times, that I cannot be there for them. At least, not in a physical sense. I’ll pray. I’ll write. I’ll call. I’ll cry with them. I’ll rejoice with them. Even though much of that ends up happening with me not being there in person. And that, my friends, is tough.

Originally posted September 12, 2006



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