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And blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Dancing with the Angels and I Can Only Imagine brought us right into the vision of what heaven would be like when we are face to face with our Savior, which is exactly where Sydney is! Don't you wonder just how fast and furious she is talking to Him about her amazing journey?
The Providence children's choir was angelic when they sang I Want To Walk As A Child of The Light, In Christ Alone, and Here I am Lord. The descant on Here I am Lord was powerfully moving.
It was beautiful to see the outpouring of love and support for Jack, James and Johnson through the hundreds of Providence children and parents there and the entire high school of Cambridge filling up one section.
The slide show of Sydney and her family from birth through her hospital stay was a glorious tribute to the love she gave to so many and to all those who loved her. It was fun to see her in a photo with Matt Damon who happened to be filming on the street in New York when she was outside. I'm sure cute little Sydney was able to lure him over. If it had been you or me, he wouldn't have given us the time of day!
The Lord had His full annointing on Chuck Bentley and Todd Wagner when they spoke. Chuck began with the charge that if we didn't know Sydney well, we would by the time the service was over. He shared story after story of all of Sydney's antics and "Sydney-isms". What a clever and funny girl! Her cheerful heart truly was good medicine for all those around her. My favorite is still the story of when Lynette had to cut off Sydney's braided ponytail. Well, that became one of Syd's favorite practical jokes! She would lay on her pillow with the ponytail next to her head and any unsuspecting newcomer who came into the room became her prime target! She would ask them to pull her ponytail, and did they ever get a big surprise! All the stories were just a joyful time of reminiscing. Chuck even read an email from all the staff who took care of Sydney at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York. They were touched to the core of their being by Sydney, James and Lynette and their faith. Those people will be forever changed by Jesus' little disciple, as Lynette so lovingly called her.
After Chuck's uplifting message, I thought, "What could Todd possibly add to that?" Well, he certainly added a lot! I truly could have stayed there for 2 more hours beyond the 2 hours of the service. Todd addressed the 'why' of the loss of a beautiful life like Sydney's. He talked about John 11:35, "Jesus wept." God is not put off by our grief nor does he fault us for it. He Himself was deeply moved and wept over seeing the grief displayed in all those who loved Lazarus upon his death. He weeps with us over the sting of death, pain and suffering. It's not okay, it's not right! This is not how it was meant to be. The God of the universe wept over the suffering that has come into this world because of sin. Make no mistake, though. He WILL win in the end. Hallelujah! Oh, how He loves and cares for us!
Todd also exorted us to refrain from basing anything God is going to do on our faith alone. Our prayer should be just like in Daniel 3:17-18 when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego prayed, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire. . . but even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up." Even THEY acknowledged that God may not act in the way they hoped. They were ready to stand firm till the end no matter what happened. If you recall last fall, when I sent out these very same verses to you, I mentioned that the idols for us wouldn't be physical but would be those of doubt, despair, and discouragement. The balance between our faith and God's will remains a mystery, because we know that without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) So we continue to have faith and trust Him because He is ALWAYS good.
This was not in the service but something I heard on the Bill Johnson CD this week called "Handling Loss", and it was powerful. He said, ". . . Anybody can be thankful when things are well, but if you want to give a gift to God that costs you, then in the middle of crisis give Him praise. In the middle of loss . . . give Him praise, give Him thanks and honor and bless Him."
The celebration service of Sydney's life did just that. Psalm 126:5 says, "Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting." I'm confident in our Savior that this will happen and that many hearts will continue to come to know Him through our precious Sydney's life. Todd closed by saying that there is no greater kindness to James and Lynette than for someone to tell them that they came to know Sydney's Savior because of her life and her example to all of us.
Praise the name of the Lord! He is truly good and truly worthy of all our praise.
Remaining in prayer with all of you,