You always hear people make the comment "I never thought this would happen to me" all the time. Well, I never thought that I would attend a funeral burying one of my bible study sisters before I even turned 30, but here I am at 28 and this past Saturday, we said goodbye to my sweet friend Melissa.
Melissa will leave a void in our bible study that will never be replaced. She was our perfect attendance girl and the girl who could be so blatantly honest, yet the most compassionate at the same time. Plus this girl was F.U.N.N.Y. And the best kind of funny, because she never tried to be funny. The kind of funny where I would find myself intentionally listening for her side comments, because if you didn't pay attention you would miss them entirely.
Melissa started having digestive issues in late July and by August found out she had a massive tumor in her abdomin. By October she started chemo and she passed away on November 3, 2011. Within 3 months, she went from perfectly healthy newlywed to gone from us forever. It is no surprise that we are all left with reality whiplash and a sense of "did this really just happen."
Two weeks ago we had a time at bible study where we prayed and cried and begged God for healing and cried and laughed about how much of a blessing Melissa is and cried. It is one of the sweetest memories with this study that I have ever had. Kimberly was commenting on how much the support of our bible study meant not only to Melissa, but also to Kimberly going through losing one of her best friends. We started discussing that times like these are EXACTLY what having a body of believers, and in our case our bible study sisters, is for. To carry the load together. To deal and heal together.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." - Romans 12:15
Kimberly mentioned that she thought that was why Melissa NEVER missed a week, because she understood the importance of our group and what we bring to each other just by being together. Melissa got it....and now I get it. For whatever reason, God has orchestrated the membership of our bible study and we are blessed. We have absolutely no unitary connection except Him and that to me is so beautiful.
Back Row (L to R): Kimberly, Margaret, CL, Christy, Me
Front Row (L to R): Erika, Melissa, Samantha, Amanda
Missing from Picture: Erin, Catherine, Stacey, Stephanie, Jennifer, Priscilla, Mallory
This is a verse we have talked about alot through the Melissa ordeal.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - 2 corinthians 4:16-18
God uses time of pain and suffering to teach us about His character and His ability to heal ALL wounds. My CEO made a comment about some transitions going on at work and said the following..."Do I feel like this is still the way God is calling this business to go? Yes. Do I doubt it? Absolutely not. But I don't have to like it." That is the way we are all dealing with Melissa's death. We KNOW that God's path determined her time on earth was done, but we don't have to like it. We are focusing on learning about God through this trial and learning about His ability to heal. We are currently studying Jonah. The title of this study is "Jonah - The Life Interrupted". I would say this would qualify as an interruption and it will force us to seek Him daily and to that we praise God.
Melissa had so many great qualities. She was so thoughtful, generous, sincere, funny, caring and real all the time. When she started coming to bible study, she was not a hugger, but in the last year, she became one. :) I miss her so much, but I am celebrating that she is with the Lord. Thank you God for blessing my life with Melissa and for the ways you will grow our bible study as we process her death. Please use Melissa's story to Your glory.
Melissa emailed us an update back in September or October when she got the final diagnosis of her cancer. I know that God had fully prepared her for what was to come. Her comment in her email is below the picture of her below. She loved music and playing the guitar so this is the perfect way for me to say good bye to Melissa via the blogosphere. I love you Melissa and will miss you always. Love your Bible Study Sister.
"I have been praying for you all that no matter the outcome, that you will not be bitter about this and blame God for any of this. That you will rely on him instead of asking "why me." If I'm not bitter about it, than you shouldn't be either. I have also been praying that my experience brings as many people to Jesus as possible or for you to grow in the faith you already have. None of this is in my control, the only thing I can control is how I pray and how I respond. God is still working in our lives even in times of struggle." -Melissa Noack