A Time to Mourn ~John 11:35
How do you say goodbye to someone you have known and loved your entire life, especially when that someone is your precious parent? All of this past week I have been texting and phoning back and forth with one of my dearest friends during her mom’s illness, and today she has lost her beloved mother to the last enemy, which is death. How do you help comfort your friend who is a thousand miles away from you, especially when you know there are not even adequate words? Sometimes the only and the best thing you can do, is pray for them and cry out to God on their behalf from the depths of your heart. Going through the process of being in another state far from your parents when their health is failing, is a torturous thing. What she has experienced is nearly the exact same thing that I went through during the illness of my own father. As I watched my friend walk through this dark valley, I was truly one in spirit with her, but sometimes words are just not enough, and sometimes tears are the only answer.
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, which says “Jesus wept.” Two small words that have the ability to bring us more comfort than many words possibly could during the loss of our loved ones. These two words are so powerful and comforting, because they help us recognize the humanity and compassion of God through the incarnation of His Son Jesus Christ. Biblical scholars may love to debate why Jesus wept, but for all of us who grieve, none of it matters. When you read those words, you recognize that Jesus experienced every human emotion that we go through on earth, and you learn to cling to Him even more when you are going through the dying phase of life on earth. When you are heartbroken, or in pain, or depressed, or distressed, and the tears begin to flow, you know that He is near to you. It’s as if those salty tears falling are a vehicle of washing away all the sadness from your body.
I remember towards the end of my father’s illness that I had to leave to go back to my job, and I knew that I might not see him again. It was tearing me up, but as I said my goodbyes, he whispered in my ear, “This is NOT life honey and it’s no way to live.” His body was worn down, and he knew that he wanted to go home to be with the Lord.
Even as I drove away that day, all I could think was “No God, No, please don’t take him yet. It’s too soon and we all need him.” I truly “wrestled” with God over the entire hospital fiasco and then with hospice at the end of dad’s life. I am so grateful that God won the wrestling match, (as He always does), because He showed me that He had a much better life waiting for my father, and it was selfish of me to want to keep him here when he was suffering so much. I shared a letter that I wrote at my dad’s memorial service, and below is an excerpt from it.
Dear Dad, I’m going to miss you so much, but I have to tell you that if I had the power to bring you back to us this very moment I wouldn’t do it, because that would mean taking you out of the glorious perfection of heaven, and away from the presence of God. Bringing you back to all the pain and heartache of this world WOULD NOT be the kind of true and unselfish love that God has been teaching me over the years. God has given you HIS perfect will now, and it is the exact same will that He desires for each and every person He has created. Death is our spiritual healing and the beginning of everlasting life with Him.
All of us are going to struggle with this one day if we haven’t already walked through it. 100% of us must face death, so I want to share how my friend’s mom and my father were able to die peacefully and joyfully, excited and prepared to meet their God. It’s really very simple. Jesus said in John 14:19, “Because I live, you will live also.” My friend’s mom and my dad believed this, and it gave them the assurance they needed to let go of their lives on earth and prepare to live again in heaven.
My prayer for all of you who read this is the same prayer that was answered for my dad at the end of his life. Recognize that we all have sinned against God and need to be saved, not just so we can live forever in heaven, but so that we can live our lives with joy and hope right now, and then for all of eternity. We all need a Savior, and Jesus Christ was sent to us from God for this very reason. He took the punishment for all of us when He died at Calvary, and His only requirement is that we believe this, ask for His forgiveness, and receive His free gift of salvation. He loves all of us so very much, and asks us to trust His great and precious promises in the Bible, so that we may be with Him forever. To do this would honor my friend’s mother and my father’s memory more than anything you could ever accomplish by your own efforts here on earth!
My friend will sorrow over the loss of her mother, but she does not sorrow without the hope of one day being reunited with her mom. This is true hope when you go through the dying time of life. God’s ways and timing are always perfect and I KNOW that what happened with my friend and her mother was His will, just as it was with my family when my father died. The Lord was so faithful to all of us every step of the way; not once did He leave us in our time of need. He provided, comforted, protected, sympathized, and delivered us through the trial. When the grieving brings us to our knees, He will remain with us and He will weep with us. Jesus Christ is the most faithful friend you can ever have and He has walked through this ordeal with my friend and her family every step of the way, and both of us are so very grateful to Him for all of His great and precious promises. He is the anchor that will hold us until the day when we are reunited with our parents, never again to be parted from one another. Blessed Assurance and peace that surpasses all understanding is my offering to you, my forever friend. I love you and truly am with you in Spirit!