Harder Family

Harder Family

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Long Goodbye

Isaiah 43:1-3 "But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'"

Back in 2015 when Wayne was diagnosed, I came across a blog written by a woman by the name of Kara Tippetts. Months before I found this blog, I had read a letter she wrote to a young woman named Brittany Maynard. A friend on Facebook, whose father had passed away from brain cancer, shared this letter. At the time, it moved me greatly. Little did I know that brain cancer would touch our lives just a few short months later. In this letter Kara, who was dying from stage 4 breast cancer, shared with Brittany, who wanted to end her life because of her brain cancer, that we don't have to be afraid of dying or suffering. Kara spoke from first hand experience walking the hard road of suffering. Here is a quote from part of her letter to Brittany: 

Dear heart, we simply disagree. Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.

In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with the such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths.

As I sat on the bed of my young daughter praying for you, I wondered over the impossibility of understanding that one day the story of my young daughter will be made beautiful in her living because she witnessed my dying.

That last kiss, that last warm touch, that last breath, matters — but it was never intended for us to decide when that last breath is breathed.

Knowing Jesus, knowing that He understands my hard goodbye, He walks with me in my dying. My heart longs for you to know Him in your dying. Because in His dying, He protected my living. My living beyond this place.

But in my whispering, pleading, loving voice dear heart- will you hear my heart ask you, beg you, plead with you — not to take that pill. Yes, your dying will be hard, but it will not be without beauty. Will you please trust me with that truth.

More importantly, will you hear from my heart that Jesus loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He died an awful death upon a cross so that you would know Him today that we would no longer live separate from Him and in our death. He died and His death happened, it is not simply a story.

He died and He overcame death three days later, and in that overcoming of death He overcame the death you and I are facing in our cancer. He longs to know you, to shepherd you in your dying, and to give you life and give you life abundant- eternal life.

But in our dying, He does meet us with His beautiful grace.

Just a few months after reading this touching and moving letter, Wayne was diagnosed with the same brain cancer that took Brittany Maynards young life. One night, as I was up late praying and wrestling with God over this cancer, God brought this letter to my mind. I looked up Kara's website and read her old posts. I did not know Kara, yet her honest expression of what she was experiencing and the closeness she felt with God reached through the screen. Not long after I started reading her blog, she passed away from her cancer. I was devastated, along with thousands of people around the world who were following her story.

It was at that moment that I realized that God uses both life and death to display His glory. God has been glorified through this woman's life in amazing ways across the globe. One person's suffering, that she handled with grace, has touched thousands of lives. Isn't that how we should all live? 

From the beginning of Wayne's diagnosis, it has been our prayer that God would be glorified, in his living or in his dying, much like Kara's life. God has been gracious to allow Wayne to lives these four years, after being told that the average life expectancy is 12-18 months. We cannot take a moment for granted, we must live in the beauty of suffering. Whether that suffering is a hard relationship, a physical illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, etc. God, in His great plan, allows suffering to enter our lives. Not to punish us or to be a mean God, but to help grow us in His image and draw us closer to Him. Wayne is not the same man he was before brain cancer, he is even better now. His love for the Lord and his passion to live fully for God is contagious. He may not be able to always clearly communicate his thoughts, but deep inside is a man with a deeper love and walk with the Lord because of his suffering. Wayne's suffering has impacted our entire family, but I trust that God will be glorified in the end in all of our lives because we have been entrusted to walk this road of suffering, which allows us to grow closer to God each day. 

I am so thankful for Kara and her testimony. At the end of her life, some friends decided to make a documentary about her life and her testimony. On March 22nd, this documentary will be released on DVD. Below is the trailer for the movie. I already ordered a copy. I would love for others to be able to experience the testimony of this godly woman. I am going to give away a free copy of the movie to one of my blog followers, so if you aren't following me, add me. 😀 There will be a random drawing on 4/15/19. 

Thank you again for all of your prayers for our family! We couldn't make it on this journey without all of you praying along side of us! Please also pray for my friend Lynnie who lost her sweet husband tonight to brain cancer. My heart is breaking with her.