Bethany Brown died a year ago today. With that comes the temptation to fixate my mind and thoughts on the traumatic parts that came with her unexpected death, but choosing to dwell on those things is not celebrating her life.
Beth’s death forced me to deal with who I really believe God is. It’s one thing to say God is good and another to unwaveringly trust it no matter what. My belief was shaken. Is He really good? How could God allow me to experience the death of my friend? My life became characterized by anger, bitterness, depression, and anxiety. I isolated myself from those around me, determined that I would never again experience the immensity of heartbreak and pain that I was sitting in.
Pain is an indication of brokenness, that something isn’t right. It exposes a need for healing, for restoration. Refusing to acknowledge that pain and need only prolongs the process of that. Over time, the truth that death BREAKS God’s heart struck me to the core to a new depth. It wasn’t just the death of my friend but the sobering reality of my utter helplessness in the face of death and of the chasm that separates us from God because of sin, something He never intended.
How great is the HOPE of Jesus Christ who conquered death, who redeems us from death, who allows us to take part in sharing that good news with those around us.
This life is not without hardship and struggle. My sweet friend was living proof of embracing this yet not letting it define her life. As time has gone on, I have realized more and more the magnitude of the impact that Beth has had on my life because of that.
With the knowledge of a terminal illness (which I knew nothing about until later) she sold everything she had, left her job, left her friends and family, and the comforts and conveniences of America to partake in the ministry of Crosswinds in the Dominican Republic.
She was one of the bravest people I’ve ever known. She could have easily chosen to dwell on her diagnosis with bitterness, anger, or self-pity, but somewhere along the way she resolved to persevere in spite of it. Beth lived a life of demonstrating what it looks like to cling to the hope of Christ and to allow herself to be compelled by His love despite circumstance, striving to live out the full life that God invites us into. That is worth celebrating, and even more so the hope of Christ.
I thank God for the gift of her friendship, who she was, and the privilege of knowing her during her time here. I’m also thankful for God’s grace in walking with me through this past year and for allowing me to know more fully, through the death of my friend, the confident hope that I have in Him.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!