Update: As of today, Saturday 2/7, Andrew is still in the hospital, incredibly hanging on. After our Bible study it occurred to me that as unlikely as it seems, it is possible that God could choose to heal him completely from all his troubles. The longer he hangs on the more I ponder this...Is my faith that great? Yet it is not based on the greatness of my faith but the absoluteness of God's power and His will. I pray that His will might be that we all be astonished at a miraculous recovery. Yet not what I will...and yet, I cling to a hope, a feeble hope.
Tonight after Bible study I updated Pastor Ken about a friend of ours who had mouth cancer...Andrew, a man about 28 years old, with a wife Grace and two little children, AJ and Gracie. Today, I believe, he passed away after about two years of a very difficult battle with the disease--I'm not sure that he actually did die yet, because he lives far away and the report was that he was on his way to the hospital at 1:30 a.m. and not expected to live much longer; last I had specifically heard, he was still lingering into the afternoon, but his earthly outlook was not hopeful. Thankfully, he was a strong believer and glorified God to the best of his ability throughout it all. I am confident that he is face to face with Jesus now and no longer suffering the pain that he endured here.
Pastor Ken asked me whether we were close friends. I hadn't really thought of it in terms of that until tonight. Well, I guess not. Katie had babysat for them, we'd sat at the same Sunday school table in our old church, we'd had them over, and they'd had us over, and I'd tried to help them on a few occasions before they moved. But since they'd moved, I'd read and commented on their blog, but hadn't heard from them directly. I'm not saying they should have contacted us. They had a great many friends in this area, in California, and where they are now in their home town, and they were overcome with all the problems they were facing. Our friendship was fairly utilitarian, not so much one of having much more than faith in common. But we loved them and prayed for them, and today my emotions have varied between being calm and accepting to sadness to aching for them, and back again.
It didn't take considering their friendship to be close to feel affected by his death. I respected him; he was a man who lived out his faith through every difficult turn. It reminded me of a poem that my sister had posted on our bedroom wall when I was a kid, and I kind of memorized it. I think it has affected my outlook toward others somewhat, and it ties in well with Christian faith and the meaning of relationship to others; it explains how even not being such a close friend of Andrew, his death still affects me:
No Man is an Island, by John Donne (1572-1631)
No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.