An Emmaus Road story
When Shannon was born into this world, she was thought to have been a normal, healthy child. But as the months passed, it became evident that this was not true. Signs of normal growth were not seen. This was noted, and a doctor was sought. Tests were run — all kinds of tests. At first they thought she had cerebral palsy, but after going to Rochester it was discovered that this was not the case. Shannon had something else — something that little was known about.
All of this brought about the following questions and feelings: What does all this mean? Will she suffer? Is she suffering now? How could God allow this to happen? Why? Why? And all of this led to expressions like: It does not seem fair; I feel as if I am being robbed; how can God take Shannon away from us?
My friends — these questions are numbing. They are searching, piercing, soul-searching. Upon listening to them I have taken a look at my faith. They have made me realize that I am not in control of this world nor what happens in it. They have made me see the importance of life, love, support and encouragement. They have caused me to look up at God and say: “O Lord, I have taken breathing, swallowing, seeing, walking, eating, laughing, responding, all for granted. But, now I see them as a free gift from you, O Lord. You have spoken to me through Shannon. Consequently Shannon will always be a part of me, of you, Rose and Mike. And she will be a part of Hospice and all those who have come to know her."
Rose and Mike, as you have questioned God, as you have suffered, I have asked questions of God and prayed that I might help share your broken dreams. Thus, as I sit here in my office now I find that I am feeling your loss. I find myself wanting you to know that God has not and will not abandon you, just as he would not abandon the disciples as they walked down the Emmaus road.
The disciples, upon seeing Jesus die on the cross, had their dreams shattered; their hearts broken; and their sight clouded. Numb, and in a state of shock, they walked down the Emmaus road. Consequently when the stranger appeared and asked them, “What happened?” they poured out their broken dreams. They told the stranger of their loss, their pain, their broken dreams and their shattered hopes. As they poured out their hearts the stranger listened. He loved. He hurt along with them. When they got to the fork in the road and he was about to leave them, they begged him to stay with them. He did. Later he broke bread with them, and it was in the breaking of the bread that their eyes were opened and they recognized who He was. Yes, their eyes were opened to what they had not been able to see before. With the Psalmist they were enabled to say, “You have not shielded me from the pains of trouble but you have kept me even amid sorrow and suffering.”
And so it is my prayer that you will experience the presence of the Stranger — Jesus Christ breaking into your life through those who come to you and share with you your pain and sorrow; as you share with others your broken dreams, your shattered hopes, along with the meaning of the picture you have of Shannon in your living room.
It is my prayer that you will experience the presence of the stranger walking with you, loving you, hurting along with you, in the here and now and in the future, through Hospice, through your friends, through your church, through your family, and through those with whom you work.