When the unexpected and unthinkable happens


[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]

Life storm
(IMAGE: George Hodan)

At times things happen in life that we don’t understand. We have no explanation for them. They come and take us by complete surprise. Life happens. You have dreams planned. Your goals are about to be achieved, you know exactly what actions to take. You have your life ahead of you and the unthinkable happens. You hit a dent in the road. You come to a life altering event that you did not anticipate and then you are faced with the situation where you ask yourself, “Why me?” Situations that have happened in the past two weeks in this country have brought this truth home to all of us: that life is to be appreciated because life does not necessarily turn out the way we plan.

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Gospel musician Lundi Tyamara passed away recently from a TB of the stomach and a liver condition and Joost van der Westhuize died this week after a long battle with motor neuron disease. These two young men died from illnesses that they never anticipated. Illnesses whose arrival completely changed their realities and their lives were never the same again. At the times when they heard the news of the diseases that will take their lives no doubt they had plans. They had goals. Lundi, in December, days before he was rushed to the hospital was at an event ministering through music. He was talking about an album that he was working on. Joost like most of us most probably had dreams of being there for his family. Walking his daughter down the aisle; seeing his grandchildren and living a long life. With their celebrity status life was not less cruel to them than it is to the rest of us. Life happens when you least expect it.

Life Lundi
Gospel singer Lundi Tyamara. (PHOTO: The Citizen)

Why me?
In one of the video clips that I watched of Joost van Der Westhuizen he admits initially asking “Why me”. Why was he the one who had this incurable sickness? What did he do to deserve this? Why … why … why? He tells how he came to a place of asking a different question that most of us do not ask …”Why not me?” So many of us are facing different situations where we ask ourselves everyday “Why me?” Some are young. Joost was still very young at 45. Recently the gospel world lost a young man whose ministry touched many lives even beyond our borders … he was the beloved son of the local gospel scene and many still do not believe that he is gone. We are left with questions of why would God take one so young? He was 38. Lundi still had so much to offer the world. We were blessed by his talents.

Lundi is leaving behind a family that was depending on him. He was the breadwinner. As an outsider looking at that you think, “Why would God take Lundi? Why would God do this to this family who is now facing possible poverty and a hopeless situation because the one who was maintaining the family and working so that they survive is no more?” We will never know the answers. Why does a wife and a mother die from cancer when her family is dependent on her? Why is someone fired from work and they are the breadwinner. Why did Joost have to die leaving precious kids who are still very much dependent on their dad? Why would God do all that to those children?

There is no week that passes by that we do not hear of a death of a loved one whether in our own circle or in the greater community. Death is, more and more happening at an alarming scale more than before. Even with modern medicine people are still getting ill. They have incurable diseases; businesses that are facing bankruptcy; bread winners are being laid off work; young lives are getting hooked on drugs; girls are getting pregnant younger and younger; children getting sick … all of these can be trying to any family and threaten to break the ties that bind us as families. Things that we never thought would happen to our own families happen and we are left wondering; unbelieving; questioning. The unthinkable storms of life happen to all of us and it is in those times that we have to cling so much closer to each other as families as friends. It is through relationships that we are able to come through and are able to handle the unthinkable.

Life Joost
Joost van der Westhuizen, who battled against motor neuron disease, is one of South Africa’s sporting icons, winning 89 caps between 1993 and 2003 and scoring 38 tries. (PHOTO: The Telegraph)

Draw closer to each other
Early this week I had the pleasure of interviewing author and speaker Dalene Reyburn. She is married with two sons. Their eldest son was born blind. This news brought the couple closer to each other. They obviously had big dreams and high hopes as new parents and to be told that your baby is blind was not news that they easily accepted. They had their moments where they questioned God. Her husband is an optometrist. You can imagine that the news felt as if he was hearing a cruel joke. When the unthinkable happens, especially in marriages, couples tend to fight each other and Dalene says what helped them pull through and cope, and this is something that she is thankful for, is the fact that they were able to endure the initial shock because they were together. They faced the readjustments together. This is a marriage lesson that we can all learn from, that when life tragedies happen we must draw closer to each other instead of fighting each other and finding fault with each other. We have seen marriages break because couples accuse each other unfairly instead of facing the challenge and the storm together, instead of drawing nearer to the Lord to help them pull out of life circumstances they see each other as enemies.

We will never have all the answers to why bad things happen to good people but what we should keep at the forefront of our lives is that God has given us to each other. Your spouse is the greatest gift God has given you second to Jesus. How beautiful that God would give us a lifetime companion who will be there for better or for worse. Be there for each other don’t pull away. When life happens let us draw closer together as couples and families!


Look out for my full interview with Dalene Reyburn in next week’s publication of Gateway News

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