On Death and Dying

Robin and I love to read. One of our favorite authors is Lynn Austin. Her book, “Waves of Mercy,” is about the immigration of several families from the Netherlands in 1850 and their trials and tribulations, heartaches and triumphs.

The main character walks through  the leaving a love behind, the death of her parents to malaria within a year of arriving in the Michigan frontier, one son who lost his leg during the civil war, and another son who gave his life in that war. Her daughter, in a rebellious act immediately following the great Chicago fire, which also burned down her town of Sweden, Michigan, ran off with a scoundrel and didn’t hear from her for eight years. During all that time, we, the readers, walk through her struggle with God and her faith walk as she learned to trust Him in all things.

Here is an excerpt in which Geesje (the main character) comforts a young mother whose son was stillborn:

“How can I ever trust God again after He took my baby?” she [the young mother, Johanna] asked.

I squeezed her tightly and said, “No matter what, don’t ever stop trusting Him. I believe that God is as grieved over your baby’s death as we are. He created us and gave us life on this beautiful earth because He wanted us to live here for eternity. But death entered this world when Adam and Eve sinned. Now we feel pain and grief each time a loved one dies because we know it isn’t right. God knows it isn’t right, too. That’s why He sent His Son to die in our place, so that death would be destroyed and we would have eternal life. Keep your eyes on the cross, Johanna, and you’ll know that you can surely trust Him.”

Is that how you keep going, Geesje? By waiting for heaven?”

“In a way…” I said, stroking her hair. “But Jesus also taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come now and for His will to be done now, here on earth, as it is in heaven. He has work for us to do, Johanna. A life to live  for Him now. When I felt the way you do right now, I asked God to let me know He was still beside me. To show me that He loved me and that His ways were good and right. Then I watched and waited for His replies… Slowly, little by little, He let me know in dozens of everyday ways that He was near me and that He loved me. He’ll do the same for you if you ask.” pages 249-250

The book was excellent, but it would have been worth reading just for this passage! What we must  remember is that Jesus has a kingdom BEYOND this world, to which He calls His children. As my pastor, Bryan, says, the best gift we can give our loved ones is the assurance that we are in heaven waiting on them. How do we do that? By trusting in Jesus and following Him all the way there!

We don’t get to skip the heartache, but we don’t grieve as the world grieves who have no hope. We know this:

Philippians 3:20 (NIV)
[20] But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Now, THAT makes it worth it all!

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