Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waiting in Jerusalem

Sirach 2: 1-6
My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient; For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.

Greetings to all! As I was making my two and a half hour commute to work yesterday morning my heart was just breaking, the pain was so intense that I could physically feel it. Instead of running from it, turning up the radio, thinking “happy” thoughts, or making phone calls, I just sat in it and I began to simply invite God into that hurt, to join me in that place of suffering. I know that He is always “with us,” but He is still a very respectful God who will not force Himself on us but will quietly wait for our invitation.
The question that Ali and I get asked the most is, “How are you doing?” Although we know it is being asked out of genuine concern, we also know that a lot of times, the majority of people could not handle our answer. Let me give you an example. Now, remember this is all figurative language here for all you animal lovers out there. If someone catches me in the middle of a heart wrenching moment and asks the question, “How are you doing?” And I truly answered them, my answer would sound something like this, “I want to stomp on kittens, punt bunnies across the yard, I want to throw cute puppies are far as I can, I want to unleash the fury that is in side of me by punch something until my arms and my body cannot physically move anymore.” Now, is that the answer that “most” people want to hear, No. What most people want to hear is that we are doing “good, we are doing good.” Unfortunately at the moment and in the days and weeks to come, we will not always be doing, “good.” Does that mean that we are falling apart all day long, No. Does it mean that we find no joy in our life, no. What that means is that we just feel like we got the wind knocked out of us and could cry at ANY given moment sometimes because we are in pain right now.
In the society that we live in today, especially the one that I grew up in, we want to avoid pain at ANY COST! Just watch TV for an hour and see how many different medication advertisements there are on TV today. Our world has become afraid of pain, so instead of dealing with it we so often “self-medicate,” by alcohol, food, shopping, money, celebrity gossip, or whatever our poison might be, so that we can feel better about ourselves and our life or the other option is that we just simply pretend that it is not there and go about our daily lives like “nothing is wrong.” We are afraid in general of looking at the reality that we find ourselves in, instead of embracing it, allowing God to be present to us, walk us through it, and heal our broken hearts. In “crushing misfortune” we want to do ANYTHING but “be patient” and “Trust in God.” Unfortunately the reality of it is there is truly no other way around it, no other way that will last, no other way that will truly satisfy us, no other way that will give us REAL solace, comfort, and healing.
As I began my long trek home yesterday afternoon from work I turned my radio off and just prayed, prayed for my wife, prayed for my kids, prayed for myself and I just tried to be patient in the midst of the pain of Cate’s loss. The scripture that came to my heart was of Holy Saturday, the day after Good Friday. Let me set the scene for you and it is pretty bleak one at that. The apostles, disciples, and Mary are locked in the upper room. Mary is mourning the loss of her son, the apostles and disciples are mourning the loss of their Messiah, their friend and their lives. Think about this for a minute. These followers of Christ had given up EVERYTHING, family friends, and careers to follow, this “Jesus,” and now He is dead. They had to be feeling like they had just lost everything, not to mention their reputations, because now they just look like a bunch of idiots. Can you imagine what that Saturday must have felt like? Gut Wrenchingly horrible!
You see, we know something that the Disciples of Christ did not know on that painful Holy Saturday, we know what happened the next day, Easter Sunday, Jesus was resurrected from the dead and after His resurrection He spent forty days with them. In Acts 1:4 the scriptures say, “While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for "the promise of the Father.” To wait, did you hear that, He told them to WAIT on “The Promise of the Father.” That Promise of the Father that Jesus told them about was the Holy Spirit, the one who would empower them to leave the locked upper room and go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of Christ. Can you imagine what that waiting must have been like? When they saw Jesus they must have thought, Jesus is BACK! Whoopie Hooray, we are not IDOITS! And then He tells them to wait. They must have thought, Hold on, what did you just say? You want us to what? You want us to WAIT? Are you kidding, do you know what we have been through? Our people have been waiting for thousands of years for the Messiah, you are here now and you want us to Wait? Yes, WAIT. I believe it was worth the wait, their waiting is what enabled Christianity to be brought to the ends of the earth and be brought to you and to me.
I was talking with my mother-in-law the other day, who as I mention before, has had to face her own “Holy Saturday” when their son Phil died. I was telling her that Ali and I are not running from this pain, we not acting like it doesn’t exist, that right now, we are just experiencing it, in all of its fury, knowing that it will pass. I told her that either we deal with it now or we deal with it later, but it must be dealt with. She said something that I thought was very profound, every once in a while mother-in-laws can come out with some good stuff, wink wink. She said that right now, the pain is in your face, you know what it is and you can clearly identify it. If you deal with it now, it is a lot better than if you wait for years and the pain and anger gets intertwined into other things in your life and it becomes much more disguised as other things and is a lot harder to identify and deal with.
So, as all of us do at different times in all of our lives, Ali and I and our kids find ourselves experiencing our “Holy Saturday” and that is just what we are going to do, experience it. But, we will wait, like the Disciples of Christ, waited in Jerusalem for, “the promise of the Father” we too will wait in our Jerusalem. May all of us, not be afraid of the “crushing misfortune” that this world can bring to all us, but embrace it and allow it to refine us. We love you all, wait with us in Jerusalem.
Much Love, The Cantrells

I will leave you with a quote from the movie the Count of Monte Cristo that I think sums this up very well:

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you: as Albert Mondego, the man!”


Anonymous said...

We will absolutely wait with you. Never be afraid or hesitant to answer as honest as it feels in your heart that day. I've done many quick exits myself, when my answer to "How're you doing" was not only NOT Good--I didn't even trust my voice to respond.
Tears never seemed to obey when the voice in my head said...."Try to wait till you get in the car"--they were unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable for the poor soul who was "just checking on me!"
Sometimes you think you have a handle on the day...and with no warning...it falls apart on you. Its perfectly OK. We will all wait with you and Ali through this pain--throw bunnies, stomp kittens, cuss... whatever, brotha....we're not going anywhere!

Anonymous said...

Dear Cantrells - as corny as it sounds - during this time of immense pain, God does carry you if you let him. Having lost my son last year, I have learned that my days are all good - good with memories that are so happy and good with memories of those bad days where God carried me. I am still amazed that even now - more than one year later - how God worked then and continues to work now. I know that there are lots of things that I can't do or change but, I know a MAN who can.

Vikki Harrison (Charlotte Berman's mom)

Anonymous said...

I get where you are coming from, Charlie. In fact, I bumped into Ali, Dude and Ella in the grocery store yesterday. My first impulse was to say, "How are you doing?", but I bit my tongue and just gave Ali a big hug and kiss (my way of saying,"I'm here") Your Wonderful wife smiled graciously and said, "How is your summer going?"...it's hard to believe that with all that she has to cope with, she would ask how my family's summer is. But, it is a way of getting your mind on another path (so you don't break down with every thought of Cate). I just love your wife...she is such a great Mom & a kindred spirit. Ethan got very excited when he saw Dude and Ella in the store and wanted us to rush over. I didn't want Ali to feel like they are in the "public eye" so to speak. But, I also wanted that sense of normalcy for the kids. I feel like I should have given Ali a lot of encouraging words, but seemed to be at a loss for words (I think because I didn't want to stir up any feelings that may be on the edge). When we left the store though, your little Cate sent my family just what we needed..a rainbow to let us know that she was there. I've said before on the blog that my Ma-ma (grandma) sends feathers (I happened to find one "indoors" in the hospital yesterday just as I walked into the door and down the hall. The most perfect solid white feather was sitting on a window sill. Last time I checked we don't have birds living inside of LGMC. So when I see a feather I feel the warmth of my grandma & when I see a beautiful rainbow...that is Baby Cate smiling down on us. You are one of God's children, but you are also a Father & it will be very hard to get past that pain of losing Cate. God has his children around him when we are living and once we die....it's harder as living humans not to miss that physical touch, smell and laughter that you had before. Her spirit is all around you. . .you may have to wait a while to have that glowing feeling of spirit to spirit contact with little Cate, but she'll wait for you.
Much Love, Jennie Gary

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said as always Charlie.

I am reading C.S. Lewis' Problem of Pain and this quote from it hit me while reading your blog:

"Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have exluded life itself."

Lila Lambert said...

Let, us, then all take courage and go forward together; for He is indeed with us and it is for Him that we persevere, for the battle is almost too painful when fought for us alone...but, He has gone this way before us, and He is fighting for us...in danger of being swamped by the storm we implore Him as the disciples did, "Lord, save us!" He will stand up and take the wind and the sea to task...

they call me the boss said...

Still praying for your family.

Anonymous said...

No puppies for you!! LOL! Sorry, sometimes in the midst of all your pain, you crack me up, I mean, punting bunnies!!! I love you guys.
I will invite God for you everytime I pray, just in case you guys forget some times. Lots of Love,
Wendy Lantz
P.S. DO you mind if I place that adult dog with a more fit owner?? Just kidding...

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, your words were exactly what I needed to hear today!

Crystal said...


Thanks again for another wonderful message from your heart. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Please know that many people are here if you and your family need anything. I don't have much to say, but "Thank You". You are definetly doing the right thing. Keep sending messages from the heart and I will keep reading. Your words are very uplifting!!!


Crystal Judice

gina+ said...

We're still here and will continue to be! Your mother-in-law is wise, Charlie, better now than later. Press in, Press through and Press on in the name of Jesus+

gina borbas+

Claire said...

Lola better watch out...haha.

Just wanted to say thanks for being so honest and so real.

Had to represent since my relative is slacking...

Love and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Hey there, my brother!

You know, there is reality TV...which for the most part is hard for me to tolerate. Now, you are giving us REALITY BLOG!

YOu know, when I worked in the hospital, I cared for so many patients who were suffering on various levels. When I was assigned to the Oncology (cancer) Wing, I always felt like I had been assigned to "Holy Ground" that day. The grief that these patients was immense. So, one day I thought of something that I call a "Hero's Calendar." I suggested that the patient purchase a calendar and, on each day, write the name of a person or some cause (Pro LIfe, etc.).

Every morning, the patient checked their calendar to find out who or what would be the beneficiary of their suffering for that day. The attitude of the patient ALWAYS changed when they did this. I can't tell you how many times I heard patients say, "Now my suffering makes sense."

Charlie, I know that you and Ali are suffering in the worst possible way. Your blog is kind of like a "Hero's Blog" for me. To walk with you and your family right now MAKES SENSE. I am reminded of what matters most in life.

Perhaps this quote from St. Francis de Sales will serve as some consolation for you and Ali right now:

"Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring. The same loving God who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. God will either shield you from suffering or give you strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations."

Love and prayers for all of you!
Ms. Laura

Anonymous said...

We are all still here with you and your family..praying daily for peace in your hearts. We will always be by your side.
Love, Stephanie Johnson

Jolene said...

Charlie and Ali,
You two never cease to amaze me. Y'all are very wise for dealing with your pain now. I continue to pray for all of you daily.

Anonymous said...

We are still here praying for you and I am still blown away by your words. Thank you for continuing to share your hearts with us...wounded and in pain, but beautiful and a source of strength to all who read your blog. May our Loving Lord continue to wrap His arms around your family and may His Mercy flow on you today and always. JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!! YSIC, Melanie

Anonymous said...


Your words... are just what I needed to hear today! It is so true how we use everything we can to avoid dealing with the everyday suffering that God brought to us to teach us something. And I find that the longer I avoid it the harder it gets day to day to remember which pain started first and where to start, but if we just allow Jesus in, He will sort it out! It's like I said in one of my comments shortly after little Cate had passed... she, with her broken heart, is healing our broken hearts! I can't seem to stop thanking you for sharing so I guess I will just say it again! Thanks for being open Charlie, what you are going through and sharing is really helping me to work through some stuff! I feel blessed to have known you at FUS and have a chance to really get to know you now through this experience! Hopefully one day our families can meet!
Teresa Clark

Anonymous said...

Your blog has saved my life. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Guys, I know that I'm sorry is so cliche' right now, but I'm sorry that God's will hurts so much sometimes, I'm sorry that it causes you pain to bring others to Christ through little Cate, and YOUR PAIN, I'm sorry that you can't smell her or hear her laugh, or see her smile anymore. It freakin sucks! IT FREAKIN SUCKS! BUT HOPE! I love you guys, and will be hoping and celebrating with you, all the way until we one day get to be with our little girls again, and you know what, I may start stomping kitties.... not puppies though. Need the dough.

Lila Lambert said...

When I got home, after Cate's funeral, I placed her prayer card on the altar in my home, without thinking. She is there with all the people very dear to my heart, and I never knew Cate. The first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see before I go to sleep is my altar....It finally hit me this week why I placed her there...she is my example of what God calls us to be,"You must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God" her purity, innocense and her love...

Anonymous said...

thank you for continuing this blog. we are still praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Ali, It still amazes me HOW the Holy Spirit moves...
Once again, Charlie, you affirmed something that I had just written to my sister...I had just been talking to her and personally reflecting on how there could not have been a Resurrection without the Crucifixtion. How we are called to WAIT on the Lord...how HE will make all things new...how amazing and beautiful He makes our lives when we turn them over to Him...but He doesn't do it pain free. Like gold, tested by fire...like pottery, which must be fired to be used, and for the color to appear more brilliantly than ever before. We must live through the fire...and cling to the cross(fire-proof) and wait on the Lord. He will come...He HAS come. He IS here. Amen!
Betsy, Trey, and Fenton

Rita Jonas said...

Your statements are so true. Many people want to just "take a magic pill" and forget the pain. It doesn't work--feel the pain when it comes, and God will carry you through it. Thank you for your honesty and truth!

Anonymous said...

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:24

From reading comments posted on your blog, it is apparent that precious Cate's death has already produced much fruit for the Kingdom - people seeking God, praying, going back to church, saying you've "saved their life!" Wow. What an incredible testimony. You don't know me but I continue to pray for your family often.