Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday -- The Finish Line

I think that something we all wrestle with as parents who have lost children is the "Why" question.  Why did this have to happen to my child?  Why, when my son was serving the Lord, and his peers were not, was his life taken?  Why didn't God protect my daughter?  Why didn't God heal my son?  Why didn't God allow my daughter to live outside the womb?  Why?  Why?  Why?  This question is a cruel taskmaster.

On Monday, Brad and I attended a funeral where that “Why” question certainly seemed applicable.  This funeral was for a young man named Ben Crowley.  Ben was our sister-in-law’s brother.  He was a handsome guy, 38 years old, had a beautiful godly wife, and a baby girl on the way.  He was a rabid Auburn Tigers fan, and he loved the Lord.  He had overcome a lot in his life, including drug and alcohol addiction as a younger man.  He also was fighting a battle that had gone on for many years … a battle against mental illness.  And on the evening of March 20th, somewhere between 5:30 p.m., when he talked to his wife on the phone and told her he was cooking dinner for her, and 8:30 p.m., when she arrived home, he took his own life.

His family and friends were stunned and heartbroken.  How could this happen?  Ben was doing so well … He loved his wife, he was excited about his baby on the way, and he was making plans for the future.  Yet on that evening, his mental illness took over, and his earthly life ended.

His dad preached his funeral on Monday, and did a wonderful job of sharing who the real Ben was.  Anyone who came that day who did not know Ben left there feeling like they had “met” him.

One of the things his dad said really stuck with me.  He quoted 2 Timothy 4: 6-8 -- "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."

I have to confess, when he read that, I thought to myself, “But Ben didn’t finish the race.  He took his own life.”

But then, Ben’s dad said the same thing I had been thinking ... “When I read that, I thought to myself, ‘But Ben didn’t finish the race.  He took his own life.’  And he continued on, saying, "But then God reminded me of something … God is the one who draws the finish line.  God had drawn the finish line in Ben’s life on the evening of March 20th, and Ben reached it.”  He reminded us that God drew the finish line in His own Son's life after six hours on the cross.  Death by crucifixion usually took two or three days, but God determined that Jesus had suffered enough ... and He drew the finish line.

Wow!  God draws the finish line.  God drew the finish line in Ben's life, just as He drew the finish line in Hannah's life ... and they both finished the race that He had set out for them.

That doesn’t mean that we have to like the course of this race.  I would much preferred to have reached my finish line before Hannah did … I mean, isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?  I know Ben's family feels the same way.

But sometimes God had a different plan for our children, and for us, as their parents.  And my job now is to continue to fight that good fight, to keep the faith, and to run that race.  And one day, when I receive my own crown of righteousness, Hannah will be there smiling her big bright smile, and saying, “That’s my Mom!”

Please keep Ben's mom and dad, his wife, his unborn daughter, his siblings, and his many friends in your prayers as they face the difficult days ahead.


Unknown said...

What a sensitive, thought provoking memorial you have given him and his family. Thanks, Jill.

Angie Heaton said...

Jill, your insightful blogs encourage me! Loss in the face of tragedy is difficult at best, but you have shown us how to persevere and finish the race strong. Thank you for remaining faithful & sharing your heart!

Kelle said...

... I wasn't sure what my comment on this post was going to be... However.. after reading posts 1 & 2... I say "DITTO" to what *Unknown & *Angie Heaton posted.. While thinking about and praying for that family.

Debbie G said...

Thank you for sharing what was said at the memorial service. It helps me a lot as I deal with my own son's death and the way he died. Praying for the family and friends.

Unknown said...

Just now reading this. I cried huge tears reading it is something that I deal with daily. I may not suffer daily like I used to...but my wounds are always there. I know we have talked via Facebook...I think you read my blog post about this...but I'm not sure...? My heart just hurts SO bad for your family right now. When I was in rehab over the summer a man that I grew close to took his life after being home a few days. I have had the privilege of becoming friends with this man's teenage daughter...and i have been able to answer lots or questions for her. i love that we still remain so close. This disease is SO real...and it kills me that people still so much believe that those who suffer can just "snap" out of it and be "okay"...and that is so far from reality. Here is a link to my post if you haven't read it: (you may have to copy and paste...if ou's the second entry on the page)

The Sullivan Four said...

It is a real disease, Kelly ... and posts like yours and stories like Ben's help people like me to understand that. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly and openly. So glad you are still close with Christopher's daughter ... I know you will be a blessing in her life.