Denise Hobbs was the leader of my church's prayer ministry, a grandmother raising her granddaughter, and a great human. But these words cannot possibly be enough to describe who she was to our church, and to humanity. She was blessed with an incredible gift of intercession, a Divine connection to God via prayer. When Denise prayed for you or with you, it was as though God had dropped down from Heaven and sat there with you. She was truly filled with the Holy Spirit, and used her gift to bless others at every opportunity. Her faith and her personality, and her love for Jesus made her a huge presence at church and in the world...
On February 18th, on a dark and snowy night, in the middle of nowhere, Denise pulled over on a treacherous stretch of two-lane blacktop to render assistance to a stranded motorist. A stranger. All logic and common sense would dictate that a grandmother should NOT do such a thing, the risks are many. Maybe the motorist is a psycho killer. The roads are terrible, what if something happens? But Denise probably never even considered those things, as another person was potentially in trouble, and she was compelled to offer help, as that's what her faith looked like to her. Selfless, unconditional love for her fellow man. The details of what happened next are incomplete, but we don't need them anyway. Denise was struck and killed by another vehicle.
The impact of her loss will ripple across uncountable numbers of people throughout the community she lived in and the people she touched. A granddaughter who attempted CPR on Denise along that dark stretch of highway, begging God not to take her. A husband who must now navigate a world without his partner. A church that counted Denise among the foundational pillars of it's very existence. Friends, strangers, family, surely the number of people suffering in this terrible loss is in the hundreds, if not thousands...
Across the country, Clint, a man I have never met, but who is a member of my fleet in an online game, lost his two year-old son, Cole, to cancer a couple of days ago. He shared with me the Caring Bridge link, where the agony of a child's fight against a monster was documented in heart-breaking detail by parents who also happen to be strong Christians. This family never stopped believing that God could heal little Cole, and yet when Cole went home to be with Jesus, they did not waver in their faith. They accepted that we do not, and cannot, possibly understand God's plan, or how such suffering is part of His plan for us. And they leaned even harder into their faith and their love for Him. Reading this story from the day of diagnoses to the day Cole got his wings brought me to tears...
In the same couple of days as finding out about the loss Clint and his family had suffered, another member of my fleet lost his 25 year-old younger brother. I know nothing further about the details of that loss, nor do I know whether or not they have faith to lean on in this time. But yet another gone too soon.
The cherry on top of this crappy cake? Yesterday would have been my own little brother's 46th birthday, but he too was taken by God on February 12th, 2006. It's a loss I still carry with me, and if I'm being honest here, it's something I haven't fully recovered from. So where am I going with this litany of heartbreaks and sad stories? Every day is about perspective, my friends:
It's easy to get caught up in the miseries of our day to day life in a fallen world. To find plenty of reason to complain or be angry, bitter about the perceived injustices and unfairness of life. Your job sucks. Your wife isn't affirming you the way you want. Your kids don't appreciate your efforts to parent them. Your car is a piece of crap. Your bum knee hurts all the time. Your guy didn't get elected as President. You're sick and tired of COVID and these stupid masks. You can't eat Cinnabon anymore, as you're overweight and trying to get healthy. They fired Gina Carano. When we lose perspective, it's super easy to develop offense, to be angry or depressed about all of these things that don't meet our expectations. In fact, the reality is, life rarely actually meets our expectations, and it often takes something that truly sucks to remind us that our expectations are mostly worldly, ego or emotion driven things that don't actually benefit or improve our lives. As a matter of fact, lack of perspective is a poison that contaminates every facet of our lives.
In the Bible, we are shown over and over again, that the only real peace and contentment we can rely upon is found in our faith. From Abraham nearly sacrificing his only son, not understanding why God would ask such a thing but fully faithful that God's will was just and Holy. And Abraham's pure faith was rewarded, just as God had promised. Job suffered countless indignities and terrible losses, and while he was clearly angry and hurt by all of this, even angry AT God, his faith in God was unwavering and eventually his prayers were answered. So I'll end with this, the important part, PERSPECTIVE:
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present of the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, can separate us from the love of God
God will NEVER cease pursuing your heart. You can run as fast and as hard as you want, but He will be right behind you, keeping up, waiting for you to stop running. We often don't even realize when we are running away, maybe because we don't fell like we're running, maybe we've just gotten off The Path a little, and are just kind of walking along all wrapped up in our worldly desires and problems, and haven't made time to talk to God or seek His Word. Even then, He is literally right behind you, patiently waiting for you to turn around and come back... We will all suffer the terrible emotional burden of losing loved ones, we will all suffer the indignities of unmet expectations, and we will all wander off The Path now and then, suffering the worldly consequences. But we find incredible clarity in our perspective when we keep our eyes on Jesus, as we are reminded that He suffered the ultimate indignities to ensure our place in Heaven. Our time here in this world, on average, without any hiccups, averages around 75 years. I'll eat my shoe if you can tell me what percent of eternity 75 years is. While pain, suffering, trials and tribulations are sure to come in one's life, it is sooooooo important to process it all through a lens based in our Faith, because that lens will provide you with the perspective you need.
I would humbly ask that all who read this blog please lift up Denise's family and friends, Cole's family, and all who we know to be hurting or wrestling with things we cannot know or understand, that you all keep these people in your prayers and that each of us might seek Spirit-led opportunities to improve our own perspective.
Heavenly Father, thank you for keeping your promise to love and protect me, despite all of the countless times in my life that I have wandered away from you, or consciously turned my back on you. Thank you for sending people like Denise into this world, and for the love you have shown through people like Cole's family. I pray that you would lay your protective and comforting hand upon the hearts of all who have suffered so much lately. Please give us all the wisdom and discernment to recognize when you are providing a perspective adjustment, and the courage to use it to glorify You and strengthen our faith. In your Son's Holiest Name, Amen.