In about 45 minutes of my starting this reflection, the funeral services of my daughter’s paternal grandmother begin. Mrs. Oliver was the matriarch of this family, and her passing has been difficult for everyone. My daughter and son-in-law are attending the service, while I chose to stay behind, offering every support from Colorado.
The death of anyone often causes a stir in me as I question my own life more deeply on these occasions. If God should take me before finishing this blog, I think now whether I know enough about Him. Some questions that flutter my mind are: Have I done my best to ease pains I have created in others? Have I loved well? Do I know His words as they intend to be soulfully absorbed? Am I creating confusion based on His very words? Am I wasting precious time on ideologies and beliefs, which do not represent Him? Do I speak according to His truth?
These questions accompanied by others do not constantly take up residence in the head, but they appear more intensely when a loved one transitions to the heavenly realms of our Dear and Sweet Father. Suffering is a part of this Christian life, and when God calls a loved one home, various degree of suffering comes. One day happy thoughts appear, and the next day a tear. Yes, aftereffects are numerous and quite distinct in every person. Depending on the day, the loss may flow with different overwhelming as we endure together.
I think of this:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).
People who do not know God may choose to challenge with scornful questions, specifically during a tough time such as death. They may want to know why our God allows people to suffer. Down throttled by memories and our questions, we prevent the dark hole, by acknowledging God in His every being of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We reflect and remember His everlasting grace, compassion, and kindness. In suffering, we come to know Him even better. Morning after morning, He breathes life into us, which guides us to move toward His purpose for our lives.
Amid the suffering, we still muster up the will to feed hungry children, care for widows and the abused, and other service forms. We speak about the goodness of God and thank Him for His kind Son, who suffered for our transgressions. We welcome Holy Spirit to allow truth to hold on to us. And, even when comfort is needed, we remember to comfort others (2 Cor. 1 v 4). These facts have become the jewel of the Christian’s life. Many may try to subvert the written historical, contextual, and cultural teachings of God the Father, but still, it is impossible to disperse the selfless compassions we hold as Christians.
For millions, death’s inevitable stance produces a great shade over life. Hebrews 2 v. 15 tells us, “And deliver those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” But wait, there’s truly more. When death comes to our loved ones or even nearer to ourselves, we must remain in thankfulness. In death, there’s no more suffering because, in Christ, we are so much better (Phil. 1 v 23).
John Bunyan wrote, “Death is but a passage out of prison into a palace.” For those of us who remain in the prisons of thoughts, beliefs, and actions, like the imprisoned Apostle Paul and Silas (Acts 16 vv. 16-33), let us continue to sing praises to God despite these confinements. In death, we move from this land where we reside with the dying to go to a land where we live forever with Jesus. Oh, the magnificence of this! Therefore, in preservation today, let us remember to love each other faithfully. To honor and share the beautiful teachings of Christ. And worship Him dearly. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away (Job 1 v. 21). We suffer and mourn when someone passes but wait; there’s always more when we reflect and deeply understand the splendor of Jesus’ welcoming arms.
May the Oliver Family be comforted with this recognition that my former mother-in-law now rests in the arms of Jesus.
Growing together, inside, and out,
The ESV Bible version is used for this reflection. Crossway Publishers