WARNING: you may need a tissue.
Today is a difficult day for me personally. It was 5 years ago today that one of my best friends succumbed to a very tough battle with cancer. Brenda Smyth was a gem. She was one of those rare people that God puts in your life that you never forget. To me she was a great friend and a sister in the Lord.
When I was a Bible college student, Brenda and her husband, Randy were my on-campus neighbors. We all worked at the Ruby Reid Child Care Center on campus. We went out together. We took vacations together. We saw Titanic together. Randy and Brenda in no small way made the whole experience of Being a 30 year old college student enjoyable and meaningful. Brenda was my sounding board for many personal struggles.
Brenda was a woman of supernatural faith. To her, there was nothing that God couldn't do. Prayer was the driving force of her life. She brought it up in every statement, I'm sure. When she discovered that the battle with cancer she had already fought and won was back for round two, she became even more faith-driven. I never saw her discouraged or defeated. She was the terminally ill one, and yet she comforted and ministered to everyone around her all the time.
I was privileged to lead a prayer service for her at her church in Knoxville. There were tears all over the sanctuary, except in Brenda's eyes. On her face was absolute joy and peace. I will never forget that as long as I live. Then after the service, I watched her comfort the people who came to pray for HER. She was an amazing woman!
Despite all of our praying and believing on her behalf, she died peacefully in her sleep, beside her husband, 5 years ago today.
For a long time, I struggled with my faith because of her death. How could God allow such a beautiful spirit suffer from cancer, and then even with all our prayers, allow her to die, leaving a husband and three children? I asked such questions and had such doubts because my friend Randy lost his wife of 25 years. I was angry because her sons, Aaron and Jordan, would be growing up without their mother. I was angry because her daughter Tia, then in the most formative teenage years, was now without her mother and best friend. I was angry because I had lost a very dear friend.
I still struggle with it. The only "answer" I seem to get is that some people are just not long for this world. I think of others in Christendom who died way too soon...for me. Rich Mullins, Keith Green, Robert Perry (a friend), and of course, Brenda Kay Smyth.
When you think of it, none of us are really long for this world. I only hope that when my time comes, I will have touched people the way Brenda did.
Brenda, I miss you. I could have used your ear a couple years ago. I miss the friendship we had, and I miss your faith, which always seemed to inspire mine.
And for Randy, Aaron (now married), Tia (about to graduate college), and Jordan (starting college), I am praying for the comfort of Christ to carry you through another holiday season without your wife and mother. No one misses her more than you do, but those who knew her love and miss her with you.
At her funeral, a lady sang a song called, "If you could see me now." I believe that was her way of letting us know she was all right and that we would see her again.