I have just finished reading”The Preachers Kids.” It is not the type of book I normally read but it sounded like a nice book. It was about the author who grew up in a Methodist parsonage with her brother in the early 1900’s. The book took them from early childhood through those teen years, when all children find their way in life, and into their adult life. The ending chapter dealt with the death of her brother, Ike, due to cancer.
Because they had taken different paths Susie (the author) and Ike had grown apart. Ike was the fun loving and jolly brother and she was the reserved quiet sister.
When Ike found out that he had cancer he called Susie and requested that she not come out to see him until later. He also asked that she would write a book about their father (more families should do this). She agreed and finished the book when he was to weak to hold the book. Ike loved the book and soon after he had read it, Susie went for a visit. Ike sill had a sense of humor about him and he said that he was looking forward to walking through those golden gates of heaven. Susie was so moved by the appearance of her brother that she said to him that she could not bare to remember him that way and would not be at the funeral. She hoped that he would forgive her and he forgave her and said he would not be there either.
As I read this last chapter my mind wandered to the many funerals that I have been at over the years. At these funerals there are always 2 things that are present. The first is that those who are left behind have a deep sense of grief and the other is that each person handles grief differently. Although there are a number of people that would like to tell us how we are handling our grief and how we are to move on it is our personal battle.
For those who are Christians it is a celebration for them when the pass from this life to the next and to hear the master say “well done thou good and faithful servant”. They are now celebrating life as never before in the presence of God, the angels, Saints, and loved ones that have made this journey before them.
Paul in the closing chapter of Philippians was trying to prepare his friends for his coming death and said that this is a good thing for him and for them that he had been faithful to the end of this life. Is it possible for us who are left behind to joy in the death of a loved one?
We celebrate many things in our life time; the birth of a child, a wedding, birthdays, graduations, and sometimes we make up a reason to celebrate. These are always times of great joy and each person is happy for the occasion. Some celebrations can last for days ie. honeymoons. Many of our celebrations center around the accomplishment of an individual and we are so proud of them. Can we transfer this same joy to the death of a loved one?
We are created in the image of God, this gives us the same emotions that God has. When Jesus was placed on that cross, God the father was so broken that the sky became as night for a few hours. We now celebrate the death of Jesus. The death of Jesus is not His death but His transformation from this life to the next. Jesus still lives and for the Christian, Jesus lives in us In the words of the Apostles “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”
As with so many of the events of our live the way we react is how we have our mind set. If we think that something is bad then it will be bad for us although others may like it. Many of the foods we eat are because we like them not because they are good or bad. Our friends are our friend because we have chosen to like them not because they are good or bad.
To celebrate the death of a loved one we must be able to enter into the joy that they have of entering into heaven. We can not see the joy they are having, we can only imagine that joy. As our hearts are heavy at our loss we need to ask God to help us celebrate the new life that our loved one is having. Our emotions will often remember the pain that we have but if we are able to allow God to remind us of our loved one’s joy we will be able to celebrate their life in heaven. This can be very difficult for us. As we continue to ask God for this vision and look for that vision, God will give us that vision
May God bless you and encourage your hearts.