Imagine those words in a quiet Spanish accent, and you have the mantra of one of the dearest sweetest women I have ever known: Evelyn Anthony.
No matter what life threw her way, those words were how she faced it. When it got tough, she was honest and would admit, “This is not good.” But without missing a beat would continue, “But God is so good.” Not an empty phrase, but a statement of absolute faith and conviction.
When cancer first racked her body: “This is not good. But God is so good.”
When she was given just a few months to live, and then miraculously the cancer went into recession: “God is so good.”
When the cancer came back some time later: “This is not good. But God is so good.”
When I would drive her to the doctor’s office, no matter what the news: “God is so good.”
When I would share my hopes and dreams: “God is so good.”
When I would come to her to help me pray through my trials: “This is not good. But God is so good.”
Saturday, I was privileged to be part of a home sending party for Evelyn. That’s the only way I can describe it. I got a phone call from my mother saying, “Things don’t look good. You should come now.” So I dropped and ran. I arrived to find Evelyn barely holding on. And it immediately brought me to tears…because Evelyn was a short, spitfire, Puerto Rican woman whose life overflowed with faith and joy. She never messed around. She would call you out in a hot second if she thought you needed it, but she had this way of making you feel loved, even while you were being chastened. But even in her fight to hold on to this life a little while longer, her countenance was as beautiful and peaceful as ever.
I stepped toward the bed, placed my hand on my mom’s shoulder, and joined in the prayer that was going on. There were five people gathered around, and all were lending their voice. Then Steve picked up his guitar, and we started singing. Hymns, praise songs, worship songs…we had church in that little room. You could feel God’s presence. When the nurse came in to take Evelyn’s blood pressure, she noted that it was the highest it had been in a while. Which is totally in line with Evelyn’s character. She loved to dance around her house singing and signing.
I was not the last to arrive. People I have grown up with from Heritage and the Deaf Ministry came. People from the Puerto Rican church came. Evelyn’s family members from all over came. And everyone’s reaction was the same: immediate tears, but then peace. Why? Because “This is not good. But God is so good.”
We had wave upon wave of singing, praising, reading from God’s word, and sharing. In English, Spanish, Sign…usually all three at once. At one point, there were 25 people in her little hospital room, and more gathered out in the hall. Each of us in our turn got to whisper in Evelyn’s ear and let her know how much we loved her, and how much of a difference she has made in each one of our lives. Evelyn's name sign is no accident: an "e" and "a" signed over your heart. She was the kind of person that lived from her heart, and welcomed all into it. Sometimes when I talk about my relationship with God, I say that I have been apprehended by something that will not let me go. Being around Evelyn was like that. She would latch onto you, get you right there, and not let you go. She changed the life of whoever crossed her path.
With each new wave, we were all reminded that we do not grieve without hope. We know that going home is not the end…it’s another beginning. True to her personality, Evelyn waited until midnight, when it was the Lord’s day, she finally let go and allowed the angels to escort her home. I have no doubt that a party is still raging in heaven over the arrival of this dear saint. And though I’m feeling the void of her loss, I know exactly what she would say to me.
“God is so good.”
Thank you Evelyn, for showing me with your life that Christianity is about your actions. It’s about living things out. It’s about praying through. It’s about knowing where your hope comes from. It’s about knowing that God is good. Always good. Thank you for being a spiritual giant and for showing me what a true warrior looks like. Thank you for ceaselessly loving those around you. Thank you for showing me that you can face life’s greatest trials with joy. I’ll miss you for a while. But I’ll see you again one day.