Hope and Burying a Loved One

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor to the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on or behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6.19-20

Today my sister is to bury her husband. Her three little girls—six years old, four years old, and two years old—are going to say a final goodbye to their daddy. Just a week ago,  none of them would have imagined that this was even a possibility, but now, after the casseroles have been delivered, the casket bought, and the floral arrangements placed to the side, it is numbingly real.

A life with my sister has given me ample opportunity to be proud of her. I have been amazed at the way she has raised her little girls to love Jesus. I have treasured story after story of her ability to put someone in their place the way she seems to have a natural penchant for. And her work in the fine dining industry has tremendously impressed me: she operates with a level of professionalism that is 100% learned and developed. But the moment that will forever stick out to me as the moment for which I am most proud of my sister happened this past Sunday morning.

The previous night, all her little girls knew was that daddy was going to the doctor because he had a hurt knee. But after his organs failed and his heart gave out due to a severe, and undiagnosed kidney issue, he died. The little girls wake up and eat their breakfast, having no idea of the events that have transpired. When the time was right, Lucy called them into the living room at my parents’ house and sat them down for the talk that would forever change all of their lives.

“Girls, do you remember how daddy went to the doctor last night because he had a hurt knee? Well, his knee is all better now.” She explained to them that his heart grew weak trying to pump and pump and pump, and that a heart attack had stopped his heart, leaving the doctors unable to save his life.

She held her oldest closely. Her tone shifted. The words my sister began to spoke were still very much for her daughters to hear, but they also seemed to bear a different weight. She slowly began to unpack the luggage of her soul, directing her heart towards all of us in the room.

The part I’ll never forget: through tears, my sister said, “Through it all, what has continually been the cry of my heart is: ‘God is good, and He loves me. God is good, and He loves me. God is good, and He loves me.'”

There is a certain kind of utter darkness into which the grieving heart can descend where the only way out is to remind yourself that light does exist somewhere and that you know it. In these moments it appears that the vague and seemingly-useless platitudes don’t find any way in; they cannot penetrate the darkness of the soul… Unless they’re already there. Then they aren’t vague; they aren’t useless. They’re foundational, and they have an ability to eat away at the darkness from the inside. God is good, and He loves me. God is good, and He loves me. God is good, and He loves me. There is power in these words for the heart plunged deep in darkness, because these words don’t allow the heart to forget that a light stronger and more powerful than your current circumstances not only exists, but will be there forever as the darkness slowly dissipates.

It seems, at least from what my sister has said, that the inward hope she has is the belief above all that God is good, and that God loves her. The Bible continually teaches hope in a God who loves and cares for us, even though he should bring things into our life that shake us to our core. We fear and in a very real sense hate the pain and sorrow that God should ever bring into our lives, but as Charles Spurgeon once said, we learn to “Kiss the wave that throws us against the Rock of Ages.”

Lucy might not be there yet. In fact, she is not. But she is armed and foundationally equipped with the most basic and true knowledge of her Heavenly Father: God is good, and He loves me. For those who would be thrust onto a path that will undeniably snake its way through all the hell this earth has to offer, that knowledge is not only beneficial, it is essential.

Please be in prayer for my sister. Please pray for her little girls. Please pray for her continually as she learns how life works now without her provider and partner in life. Please pray for her as the steady flow of casseroles and condolences dry up. Pray for her as the loneliness grows stronger. Most of all pray that her greatest hope—God is good, and He loves me—will forever be a comfort to her.

For those of you who can, please consider giving to a Go Fund Me account that has been set up for her. You can find the link to the page here.

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