Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. — Psalm 116:15 —
A few weeks ago, we got a phone call from the father of one of my husband’s very best friends. He called to tell us his son had died. Ben and my husband were brothers in the Lord. He was the one friend my husband could talk to on the spiritual level they both were able to appreciate in each other. You can expect that, when you have known one another for almost four decades.
I liked Ben the moment I met him when my soon – to -be husband introduced us in 1988. He was friendly, gentle, kind, soft-spoken, interesting, a great listener, a man who was intelligent. He was in the top 1 percent of the United States for high school test scores. As intelligent as he was, he never once talked down to anyone. But more than anything, he loved truth. Truth was important to Ben. He had very strong convictions. Ben had a lot going for him, but…
Ben wrestled with a mental illness/oppression most of his life: Schizoaffective disorder — a disorder that has both schizophrenic and Bi-polar symptoms. These symptoms are maddening. If left unchecked, the person can go into great paranoia — thinking even your family and closest friends are against you, you can hear voices, you may be able to go days without sleep, you can go from one mood of euphoria feeling you can conquer the world with brilliant ideas, to a crashing depression that makes you feel utterly hopeless, leaving you feeling as if life does not and never will have any meaning for you.
Every time Ben tried to come off his meds, he would do well for a while, but eventually the torment would start all over again. One of the last times I had talked to him, he had come off his meds because the meds made him gain weight. I tried my best to follow his conversation, but it was useless. He was all over the place talking about things that made no sense to me. He couldn’t be silent long enough for me to pray for him. Instead, he would become paranoid, thinking it was some devious thing against him. So I would pray silently, at the same time, trying to reinforce the fact there was nothing for him to fear.
He had major concerns concerning politics, the end times, future health care, the apostasy within the Church. Yep, Ben and I had a lot in common and we could talk with one another. He had been mentally and emotionally disabled for all the years I had known him. Yet, there was something there so alive, so astute at times.
After years of living with his parents, he finally within the last year or so, was able to get out on his own in a little house. He spent his time preparing for what he believed he would live to see. He told us if things got too bad, we could come and live with him if need be and I told my husband the same thing would go for Ben. I would take him in a heart beat.
Ben was never dangerous in his affliction. Maybe there were times when he felt it towards himself, but he never was a threat to anyone. Even during his paranoia, I suppose the worst thing he ever did was barricade himself in his hospital room. Which I could understand if someone wanted to drug me against my will whether I needed it or not. He could be a little goofy, but never dangerous. In fact, the people who I have known with this affliction have never been dangerous to others. Not saying there aren’t any. Just saying, the ones who I have met are not. To date, I have known five people who have had this particular affliction. And I do not believe the diagnosis was flippantly put upon them, as in some cases.
My husband had visited Ben with a mutual friend this past summer. He said there was hardly room enough to walk in the little house because Ben was preparing to live off the grid. Something I was interested in. Being self – sufficient and independent if need would arise.
But Ben never had to live to see it. It’s made me stop and think, trying to prioritize my life in a way God would have me. It is said most of the things we fear never happen, and those that do happen, do not happen in the way we think they will. I can testify to that in many ways. One thing that comes to mind is the death of my parents. For decades the thought of losing them made me feel I would go insane when that day approached. Both parents are gone now and I have not gone insane. Great grief at times, but not insane. I have spent most of my life on what ifs? What if this happened or what if that happened? A lot of it probably goes back to the way I was raised. My father was a good provider and protector of the family and in the event of an emergency, he was always there to see his family taken care of. If the electricity went out, he was prepared with flashlights, etc. If a tornado siren went off, he was there taking mattresses off the bed, throwing them in the hallway, making sure his family were safe under them. I take after my dad in that way.
But now, having different health issues, I just can’t seem to get it all together like I would have years ago. I’ve become more dependent upon God, than my own physical strength and abilities.
I thought Ben was going to be an end-time friend. Here forever till the end, if it should come in my lifetime. But, he will not. So, I have taken the event of his death and focused more on those in my immediate life, those who let me in, those who desire me as much as I desire them.
Old saying is: None of us are ever promised a tomorrow. We can’t take anything or anybody for granted. True, all hell might break out in my lifetime, but then again, it may not. If it does, I probably will not be near as prepared as our friend Ben, but if it doesn’t, I can still focus on the people God chooses to put in my life now. Ben is gone. He has been taken from this earth, but my husband and I have a great hope and expectation of seeing him again and he will be of complete sound mind. But as for now, we move on.
I truly do want to learn to stop fretting over things and all of the what ifs?
If you find yourself fretting about the future, let the words of Jesus comfort you:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. — Matthew 6:33,34