After losing my grandfather to cancer, one of the things I felt was grateful. Grateful? Grateful for the death of my beloved Popsie? No, grateful for where I was spiritually when this event took place. Grateful I had lived 24 long years before having to lose someone close to me to death. When I received the news my grandfather had passed, I knew the battle was beginning. For a long time, I had always asked myself, what will my reaction be when someone close to me dies? Will this faith I have had most of my life “kick in” when I finally go through trial and tribulation? Before I knew it, I was at that moment. How would I react to this? Will I glorify God through this tragedy? The following days afterward were hard but I knew his death must be pointed to Christ. It was imperative to me that his funeral not be wasted, so I wrote a eulogy and made sure to center it around the Gospel. As I reflect on the event almost daily since it occurred, I find myself longing for Jesus and Heaven more. I worship harder. I eagerly pray and read my Bible deeper. Everything I have ever believed in my faith now seems more real. I am learning to lean on Jesus more, to see that I really do need him every hour of the day. But most importantly I find myself filled with joy because of His promises. I cannot wait to live eternally with Christ. I am so very happy that my Popsie no longer has cancer, that death is not the end.
So how can I have this kind of faith after tragedy? It’s a simple answer: I have been preparing for this moment for 24 years. Every single growth I have had in my faith has led me to this point. Growing up in a Christian home, being called to salvation, baptism, being poured into by the Student Ministry when I was in it, my various mission trips I have been on, my deeper understanding of theology, and my Seminary program have all led me to where my faith is today. I am grateful God allowed my faith to be refined and strong before having to deal with death on a personal level.
As a small group leader to a group of 7th graders I now understand, even more, the weight of my responsibility. I want to help my group of girls grow in their faith so that when one day when they should deal with the hard stuff, they are firm in their foundation. One of my very own small group girls had a grandparent die a month before mine did. I have been able to walk through that suffering with her and show her how together we can cling to His promises of Heaven. As small group leaders, we are called to be present in their lives and continually point them back to Christ. Because I had strong Christian people point me back to God and His Word all through my life, I feel like that is why I can have a grateful heart when dealing with suffering. If your faith is stronger than ever who can you thank for that? Is there one or five people who discipled you through your walk? Is there someone you can disciple? We’re in this life together, so let’s make it count by refining each other’s faith.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Lizzy Alignamath was born and raised in the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. She loves to travel, serve in her church’s student ministry, and has a passion for orphan care. She recently graduated with a ThM from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is looking to implement her knowledge anywhere she can!