Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Precious in the sight of the LORD...."

Yesterday the mother/mother-in-law of some friends died. She was a Christian and is now with her Lord in Paradise. I looked for a card, but Hallmark didn't have any that said, " Your loved one is with Christ now! We're rejoicing with you!" I called the family today, but they are busy with all the details that come with death, so I'll write a brief letter and mail it out tomorrow.

Death comes to us all sooner or later, and even before our own deaths we are touched by the deaths of those who die before us. I do love the verse from the Psalms that states, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones." (Psalm 116:15)

The Bible says so much about death and about life afterwards for believers. The passage in the gospel of John where Jesus comforts His disciples with these words, also comforts me:

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way I am going." (John 14:1-4)

A dwelling place in heaven prepared by Christ for those that believe in Him - now that's a thought worth thinking about! (I love square rooms and square houses and my stray thought is that I'll have a square place in heaven!)

I also like to think about the far better country, that heavenly one, that Christians are to desire:

"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:13-16)

A dwelling place and a city prepared. My mind staggers sometimes at the thought of that.

I can rejoice when a Christian dies, but even in the rejoicing I often grieve. I know I'm going to miss the person who has died. I grieve for the time we won't have together. Death doesn't have to be feared by a Christian, but death is still an enemy.

Six years ago we were expecting a June baby. A few days after her due date, but before she was born, she died. Several days later I gave birth to our stillborn daughter, Christine. Her death took us completely by surprise. The pregnancy had been perfect and I'd even listened to her strong and regular heart-tones a few hours before her death. We grieved because we'd longed for her and happily anticipated her place in our family. But we rejoiced because God is good. Because we know that God planned her little life, just as He planned ours (Psalm 139:16). Because God is so compassionate and gently leads us through our time of mourning, and never allows us to be overwhelmed with grief (Lamentations 3:21-32). Because death so close makes us examine our hearts and lives (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4). Because we want to be refined, to be made holy (Job 23:10; James 1:2-4; I Peter 1:6-9)

Death is our enemy, but it is a defeated enemy:

"Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from my sight." (Hosea 13:14)

"For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15:53-57)

(I used the New American Standard Bible for these verses.)



Blogger Jeannine said...

It is wonderful that we have such precious promises.

My mother really struggled after her mother died this past January. She said she knew all the right verses and that her mother was in Heaven, but she still really, really missed her. A few months after her death she told me, "She was my mother for almost 62 years and now I haven't had her for three months and it just doesn't equal out. I miss her so much."

6:15 PM  
Blogger Marla said...

Everything you say is true, and comforting. I have been without my mother for just over a year now, and though I know she is Happy, happy, happy to be with the Lord, I grieve the loss of her friendship. I won't bake Christmas goodies with her anymore. I won't talk to her on the phone anymore. It's hard, but having my own daughter now brings me SUCH JOY that it brings tears to my eyes. I'm so thankful for my mother, and for BEING a mother.

3:30 PM  

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