Monday, July 18, 2016

Good Bye for Now

My family will be gathering this week to celebrate the life of an extraordinary woman, my Aunt Mary Therese. Her passing has left a hole in our lives filled with a lake of sadness that will eventually diminish as we learn to live our lives without her. As I combed through Scripture inviting the Spirit to speak words of healing to me, I was brought to some I’d like to share with you today.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7) My aunt did not have an easy life. She always seemed to be facing challenging times or illnesses but never once did I see her waver or give up living the best life she could for her and others. My aunt was a woman full of life and love. When I read Romans 12:9-15, I can’t help but picture Aunt Therese. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:9-15) It’s the way she lived her life. She was a kind woman of deep faith who loved everyone and helped out in any way she could. She could never be said to be lacking in zeal for her God, her family, or her friends. Her smile invited you into her space and her laugh was infectious. Her empathy for all was part of who she was rather than what she did and so her good works weren’t always blatantly apparent to anyone but the one she was consoling.

If Aunt Therese could tell us anything right now I believe it would be that the God who saw her through life, who blessed her mightily and whom she dearly loves is there for us just as it says in the Psalms and in Isaiah:

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Aunt Therese knew that these days would come. She had been sick for a very long time. But instead of facing them in dread, she faced them with courage and joy, knowing that this is not the end, but just an intermission in our life together.

When telling his disciples that he would be leaving them soon for a while and then he would be back, Jesus explained:  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:22) So it will be with my aunt and the family she leaves behind. This is only a temporary situation. The bible tells us this. Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) And in that new life with Christ—He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4) Nothing but joy in the Lord and Aunt Therese’s laugh to keep us company in the time to come.

But for now we must live in this slightly more diminished world with only our memories of her. Our world may be a little less vivid today but we are not facing this alone. We have each other and we have the God who loves us all, those with us in this life and those who have gone on ahead of us. Let us remember that he who created us, loves us, died for us and bestows his righteousness on us is with us in this moment of grief.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  (Matthew 5:4)

Whether we live on this side of heaven or the other, Jesus is our Lord and we are all serving him together. We may not be walking side by side with her in this life but we are working side by side in our praise, worship and service of the Lord God. That’s the legacy she leaves us with to carry on. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians 5:6-9)

1 comment:

Common Household Mom said...

Excellent words. I have been praying Psalm 34:18 a lot lately.