Saturday, September 15, 2007

Goodbye for now, Lisa

My brother Philip on a rock at the Pacific Ocean, Mexico

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

We received word earlier tonight that our children's pastor, Lisa, passed away on Friday afternoon. She was young and vivacious and loved by all. She told me last December that she had been receiving physiotherapy for back pain. The pain persisted and a tumour was found. I worked with her in a group that organized a Good Friday luncheon at the church in April and she started chemotherapy and radiation about that time. She had surgery in the summer, but the cancer had spread to her lungs. And now she is gone from us.

The children in my Sunday School class made a big card for her in the spring and we all expressed our love to her and prayers for her healing. Now I will face these children on Sunday and try to explain why God chose to let her die so quickly. Many of the Psalms in the Bible question God and accuse Him of being far away in times of trouble. As humans, we feel grief and loss and we question God's sovereignty.

I was talking to one of my patients last week who had lost her husband and two sons to cancer. She told me she did not believe in God any more because a loving God would not treat her so badly or allow such suffering in the world. I have heard that sentiment expressed many times. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33,

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I took the picture of Philip on the big rock in Mexico overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We are so insignificant. At times like this, I need strength and comfort from Someone who has an eternal perspective, a view from the top. And I need wisdom to answer the questions of the children who are suffering a loss because of Lisa's death.

Lisa had a wonderful attitude throughout her illness and she was an inspiration to all who knew her. She is at peace, without suffering and her healing is complete.

(Here is Becka's post about Lisa)


  1. Our vision is so restricted to what we see in this life ... if we could ever REALLY catch a glimpse of the heavenlies, perhaps we would begrudge our losses less and rejoice more for the ones who have been released from the shackles and restrictions of this earthly body.

    On an aside, have you ever read: "Hinds Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard? It came to mind just now so I thought I'd ask.

    A year ago in August my friend's mother passed away. The family were all there (she had 7 children and MANY grandchildren and great grandchildren. One of the children, a deaf child about 2 1/2 at the time, had been accustomed to coming in to visit "granny" everyday, sit on her lap in the rocking chair. The day "granny" died, the child came in and patted granny's chair and in her way asked where granny was. They took her into see her granny, now dead. The child looked at her, patted her face, kissed her and never asked for her again. Sometimes I feel children, small children especially, are much more aware and sensitive to the spiritual world. Somehow, we train it out of them!

    May you have wisdom Sunday morning.

  2. Glad you wrote "God chose to let her die" - it always bothers me when people say "God took her or it was God's will- I believe that he allows the heartache but doesn't choose it for us.
    So sorry to hear of her passing.

  3. So sorry to hear about the loss of Lisa. I think it's a reminder to us all to remember how fragile life is, and to live each day as if it might be our last. It's hard to understand when it's someone so young, but maybe it's not to be understood fully... Prayers ascend for her family and for you in telling her class. Love the photo of your brother. It speaks volumes with no words.

  4. CS- I believe my mother had the book Hinds Feet in High Places. It is a classic I should read. You are right. Children often grasp spiritual concepts easier than adults to. We need a child-like faith. Thanks for your encouragement.

    Jean- We can describe God as an arbitrary boss, or a loving parent who know the best path for his children. We are free to choose much of our own way, but some things come from the unknown and are difficult to understand.

    Jayne- Thanks for your prayers. I had this photo on a slide that I took with my old SLR camera in the 1970s. Funny how I thought of it when I heard about Lisa. I found it and scanned it and it showed exactly how I felt.

  5. Ruth, I'm so sorry. I wish you the God-given strength to communicate tomorrow. It's so difficult to explain the death of babies and young people. For reasons we don't always understand, they are in a better place.

  6. Ruth-I am sorry for your loss.lisa sounded like a wonderful person.Too many people are dying of cancer, and I have to wonder why.

  7. I'm sorry for your loss of Lisa. I don't believe we really understand the why's until we meet God.

  8. Ruth - I am praying for you and the children who loved Lisa. May the Lord grant peace in everyone's heart, knowing you will all be reunited someday. I pray that the children will understand that Lisa is no longer suffering and is with her Lord.

  9. Anonymous5:07 pm GMT-4

    From Airport in Mexico City awaiting flight to Chile.
    Sorry to hear about Lisa's passing or should I say promotion. A favorite scripture of our when one so young is taken is Isa.57:1-2. God sees the future - we see only the present.
    Mexico Mom

  10. Mary, Larry, Lynne, Mary C, Mom...
    Thanks for you comments and prayers. Larry, I see so much cancer in younger people! and in people like Lisa who lived good lives without excesses. It is thought provoking.
    Her funeral tomorrow will be both tearful and hopeful.


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