Trying to look at what can’t be seen.

I swear this blog wasn’t my idea.  Truth be told, I don’t know if I’ll be able to cut it as a full-time blogger, but at least for the next few weeks I’m going to see if I can play in the big leagues as I fire this blog up as part of a Religion and Media course that I’m taking as a result of a new partnership between the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and Luther Seminary.  Over the course of the next couple weeks, I’ll be offering some thoughts and reflections on things that are taking place inside and outside of our classroom.  My hope is that you’ll follow and participate with me in this journey and we’ll find out together where this thing is going to go.

If you were following the news today at some point you probably heard about the death of Tony Scott.  For those of you are unaware of Tony Scott was a big time Hollywood director and producer whose credits include Top Gun, Enemy of the State, and more recently Unstoppable.  Sadly, it was reported later today that perhaps one of the reasons that Mr. Scott chose to take his life was because he had inoperable brain cancer.

Upon hearing this news, my attention turned much closer to home and to the news that was shared with the LTSG community earlier this summer with unexpected retirement of Rev. Dr. Susan K. Hedahl.  I had come to know Dr. Hedahl over the course of the last couple of years as one of her students and found her personal words from her blog upon sharing her diagnosis with the world to be powerful, poignant, filled with grace and hope, even as she reflected on what her future may hold.  I think the statement that jumped out to me the most was when she said, “I have the most agrresive (sic) form of brain cancer one can get and I will physicallly die from this.”  Dr. Hedahl’s words about the looking towards end of her life communicates that death will not have the final word.  These words and the words that follow come across as being liberating and that there even in the face of death Dr. Hedahl reminds us that there is life to live.

When you look to the lives of Mr. Scott and Dr. Hedahl and how they’ve chosen to respond to their diagnoses, one is left to ponder what words and actions have been given to and shared with them that helped informed the choices that they have made.  I don’t pretend to know all of the details and experiences that have influenced and impacted their lives, but I’m left to wonder what words could have been shared with Mr. Scott that may have given him hope even in the face of death.

I know that as a person of the Christian faith I find the words of 2nd Corinthians that speak not only of hope, but of promise in the face of death. “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” (4:16-18)

None of us are able to escape death. One day I too, will die.  But even as our bodies will ultimately fail, I find comfort and courage in knowing that the One who raised Jesus will also raise us with him.

Even though I will never have another class with Dr. Hedahl, she continues to teach me by the way she chooses to live.

On this day may we pray for those who are affected by cancer as well as for those who mourn the lost of loved ones.

UPDATE:  after composing this post, I read that it appears that Tony Scott did not have brain cancer. 

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2 Responses to Trying to look at what can’t be seen.

  1. lisatawnbergren says:

    Why us it that we seem to assume that God’s only move us to remove the pain/illness? He does some of His best work in the midst of struggle. Perhaps it’s a uniquely Western perspective to avoid and anesthitize our pain instead of recognizing that God may be speaking to us in it and wanting to use us to build His kingdom?

  2. Great question. I think some people make that assumption because if things are going well there is the created sense that we are in less need of God, and so if God could just patch us up, and get us back to normal, we can go back to what we were doing and God can do the same. But that’s just not God’s nature. The God who created and breathed life into us, is deeply invested in who we are in all aspects of our lives, especially in our struggles. I would even go so far to say that God’s greatest work came through struggle and death, through Jesus Christ. I don’t know if it’s just a Western perspective to want to avoid and anesthetize pain, I don’t know too many people that welcome or enjoy it, but I think those of us in the West tend to avoid it more out of unknown fear. But that’s where I think faith can provide us with ways to face our fears. In spite of what we know and what we don’t know, we confess in a God that knows, and more importantly a God who cares. This is a God who meets us wherever we are and provides a way for us to navigate and negotiate through those things that we try to avoid.

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