Grateful for Goodness

Sometimes life sneaks up on you. It shows up unannounced and unexpected. Other times life rages toward you like a freight train – the preambles of which are heard and felt before it is finally seen – without surprise. And sometimes, life can do both.

This is how Harvy’s passing away entered into our lives. We had been listening to the coming freight train for the past 6 months. We had fought alongside Harvy to battle against the cancer, to support his ever weakening body, but the disease was winning. Every day Harvy’s body became more frail, more painful.

Death was close. We knew our time with Harvy was limited, but we were never sure how much time we really had before he went home. We could hear the train’s whistle, ever nearing, but never arriving.

Harvy could hear it too – perhaps better than anyone else – and the heaviness of that knowledge could be heard in his voice, seen in his eyes, and felt on his heart. It wasn’t death that he feared, instead he had two major sources of turmoil: that he wouldn’t be able to be there for his mother that had loved him so selflessly, and that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his life-long dream and promise to his family that he would graduate from high school.

As I shared a few posts ago, the Lord took care of the second of those dreams. Shortly before he passed away his high school made him the guest of honor at their graduation, gave him an honorary diploma, and helped him realize that dream and fulfill his promise.

I still do not have words for the kindness and the generosity of spirit of those that helped organize Harvy’s graduation. It is one of the few events of my life that has caused me to look at the world differently.

Though one of his fears had been quelled, his greater fear remained: that his mother’s heart would break and be alone once he was gone. Harvy carried that fear with him to the end – something that will probably motivate and haunt me for the rest of my life.

The Surprise

On a Tuesday in February, when the rest of the world went about its business, a young man in Nicaragua struggled to keep breathing. His mother was by his side, crying, holding his hand in hers. The struggle continued overnight until Wednesday morning.

With Sylvia still by his side, Harvy took his last breath. There was nothing more she could do, the time was here, her baby was gone. The little one she had given life to, loved deeply, raised fearlessly, and served tirelessly throughout his battle had gone home before her.

Walter called me to tell me the news. I was at work and I had to step outside to keep myself together. I could hear the hurt in Walter’s voice and could only imagine the pain that Sylvia was feeling.

Trying to Reconcile

What do you say in moments like these? How do you comfort someone who just lost their child? How do you reconcile unconditional love and long-standing suffering? And how do we ask and question while still trusting and believing?

I don’t know. I don’t know how to fully answer all those questions. I’m not sure anyone does.

What I do know is three-fold.

1. I am grateful for Harvy
2. The Lord is good
3. Our call to action is not over

Healing

I am grateful for the life that Harvy lived, for the suffering that he preserved through, and the death that he so bravely entered into.

Why am I grateful? Because my life – our lives – have been more thoroughly healed because of his brokenness. Through his suffering, many of us have been made more whole.

Jesus is the ultimate healer, restorer, redeemer. Nothing has more power than He nor will anything. But I do believe that Jesus works through those around us to teach us, shape us, and help us understand God more thoroughly. And that is what Harvy’s life and death did.

Harvy taught me, some of you, and many others, to rely on the Lord, to remain steadfast in our faith in the midst of suffering, to persevere through trials, and to allow ourselves to be loved. He put flesh on the verses in Matthew, John, James, and many other books by demonstrating concepts others had only talked about.

In it all, he challenged me to examine my own faith. He made me ask if I believed the Lord enough to answer my prayers for healing? And, even more so, if I trusted Him enough not to?

And in the end, Harvy made me confront my own doubt, allowing the Lord to reshape me into a more fervent believer of prayer. He helped me open my heart more to the Lord to let the Lord deepen my experience with His faithfulness, His goodness, and His trustworthy nature.

Goodness

And so, because of Harvy, I trust more thoroughly. I have a deeper trust that God is good, that He knows what is He is doing, that He is sovereign, and that there is a reason why Harvy was called home now.

I trust God all the more because I watched as Jesus was with Harvy throughout the process. I watched as he gave Harvy’s life purpose, filled it with meaning, and sustained him long enough to influence hundreds of souls around him (such as the 100+ that came to his funeral).

I trust God because he has proven himself trustworthy.

Call to Action

But trust is not enough. We must also act out that trust, which brings me back to Harvy’s fear before he passed: that his mother would be overcome and alone.

This is where you, we, and all our team comes in. We can honor Harvy by continuing to love his mother as he did.

I am struck by what happens when Jesus is on the cross. When He “saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27)

And so, I ask you now, please help us bring Sylvia into our homes, our hearts, and our battle for the Kingdom. Please do not forget about her, but please lift her up in prayer for her heart, her provision, her grief, and whatever else your spirit cries out for. See her heart in the picture to the right. Feel her emotions that she felt there. And lift up her soul as she grieves the loss of her son.

In so doing, I believe we can honor Harvy, honor the Lord, and love as we have been loved.

Thank you to everyone that has prayed for Harvy, supported him financially, and that continue to do so going forward. We truly needed all of you and could not have supported him and his family without you.

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