August 12, 2014
I have been blessed to not have to deal with a lot of death of people close to me. Besides my grandfather passing away in 1994 and a dear friend about 15 years ago, death has for the most part kept it’s distance.
My father has a genetic heart disease that has the words cardiac, myopathy and hyper mixed together along with some other medical lingo. Even if I don’t remember exactly what it’s called, one of the biggest things I remember about this is that it makes the walls of his heart really thick and could result in sudden cardiac death. He’s already had one risky operation to go in and reduce the thickness. It’s a degenerative disease, meaning it’s going to get worse and worse, with no cure. For over the past decade, we’ve been living with the knowledge that someday it could suddenly be too much for his body to handle and he will leave us and join his Savior. We’ve talked about this throughout the years and I’ve always had the thought that I’ll be okay when my dad leaves us. I’ve had this notion because I always thought how could I be sad when I know that his disease is gone and he’ll be in the place God has prepared just for him!?!
Then something happened.
A couple of years ago my sister-in-law Becky (honestly, my sister) was diagnosed with stage 4 histiocytic sarcoma. It’s an extremely rare cancer that involves a specific type of white blood cell called a histiocyte and attacks the soft tissue in the body. At the young age of 30, after a brave battle that involved chemotherapy, radiation treatments, endless medicines, tubes and machines she left her earthly body behind last month and joined the multitudes before her that are now worshiping at the feet of our Almighty God. We immediately went home to Michigan to be with family to lay her body to rest and to celebrate her life together. It was a whirlwind of a week. Preparations were being made throughout the days and time as a family reminiscing and laughing together went late into the night. There wasn’t much time to mourn.
Then we got home.
Granted, it’s hitting my beloved bride harder than me, but I’m still finding my thoughts gravitating to the loss of Beck and being occasionally overcome with the sorrow that there won’t be anymore late night card games that she’ll be at. There will be no more new family pictures that her shining smile will be in. I hurt for her daughter who won’t be able to feel her mother’s loving arms around her again. There is genuine sadness. But then it comes. Matthew 5:4 comes to life. Jesus boldly states that God blesses those who mourn by giving them comfort as they hurt. He promises that the joy overcomes the sorrow. That comfort looks different for each of us. I was comforted the other day as I looked through Becky’s pictures on Facebook. The pictures were of her before her body was ravaged. She was healthy. She was full of joy. The comfort Jesus promised came to me knowing that the tubes are gone and she’s been set free. How beautiful of a sight that is.
With everything that’s happened in Becky’s passing into eternity I now realize that the day my earthly father leaves this world for his heavenly home there will be great heartache. There will be much sorrow as I love my gentle giant of a father dearly. I will miss his corny jokes and puns. I will miss his encouraging words. I will miss… him. But because my earthly father has a relationship with my Heavenly Father and trusts Him with every fiber of his being, I know that his eternal future is secure.
That brings hope. That brings unending comfort.
What about you? Are you hurting from the loss of a family member or friend? The Message translates Matthew 5:4 so beautifully. It reads, “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Our Father will not only comfort you, He will embrace you. Do you remember being young and hurt? Where did you run? Most of us would run into the arms of a loving parent waiting with arms wide open. There is no other comfort like that. Just as we ran to our earthly parents, our Heavenly Father is waiting for you to hold you tight while you hurt. He longs to embrace you and hold you tight while you cry out.
Father, the loss of someone we love dearly hurts. It cuts deep. Often times it feels like a large part of us is missing. When those times come, I pray that those who read this will not only pray to You asking for the comfort you’ve promised, but will cling to you like a small child who is hurt and can only be comforted by the arms of a parent. In those times I pray for an overflowing peace to overcome us. You are our comfort and for that we worship You! Amen.