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Advent Devotional December 17: Suffering. Death. Love.

For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

By Larissa Fletcher

These three words are not typically what people think about when they think about Christmas, but I do. Last Christmas was a mere two months since my husband, John, died. I was simply surviving at that point and taking the first steps as a "widow" and an "only parent."

John and I talked about everything during his illness. John told me he didn't want to leave me alone, and he didn't want our daughter to grow up without a father. We laughed some and cried even more. Through all the ups (and mostly the downs), I found out his faith was much more. John did not fear death. He knew where he was going. He (and I) did, however, fear suffering.

Cancer, treatment for cancer, and dying are cruel. John went from 220lbs to a mere 140lbs in a matter of seven months. He went from being able to run marathons to being bedridden. He went from telling jokes, to only wanting to talk to me, to not talking at all. I still have this horrible feeling of sorrow/anger/distress when I think back about his physical and mental deterioration over those seven months. Why would God allow him to suffer like this? Around Easter I realized that God knew all about suffering. He LOVED ME ENOUGH to send His only son to the Earth as an infant to SUFFER and DIE. Because of this great gift, I have hope that Emma and I will see John again someday completely restored. It is because of this promise I can continue to smile, hope, and dream.

Dear God, my prayer is one of thanksgiving. As we sang for the conclusion of John's Memorial Service: "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives." Amen.

Larissa Fletcher and her late husband, John Fletcher, joined South Main Baptist Church almost five years ago. Larissa wears many hats as a pediatrician, mentor, teacher, blogger, widow, and friend. Her most important job is being a mother to their outgoing, smart, feisty, two-and-a-half year old daughter, Emma Grace.


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