Last Sunday we lifted up our prayer requests and celebrations. There were a lot of prayers for people whose loved ones had died or were dying. There were a couple of 40-something parents who were dying of cancer. We prayed for them and their children. There was the infant who died in a tragic accident. She was the only child her older parents were able to have.
Death is often very difficult for people. When death occurs out of order, that is children or young adults die before their parents it is scary as well as tragic. We can’t help but put ourselves in the shoes of the people going through the tragedy and wonder, “What would I do?”
Through the years I have found that the best comfort and hope I can offer comes from the promises of God. It doesn’t matter who has died, and under what circumstances, the only hope in the face of death comes from God. I lift up such truths as God is always with us especially when we walk the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), if we believe in Jesus Christ then there is a room in God’s mansion waiting for us (John 14:1-7), there is nothing that can separate us from Christ’s love (Romans 8:31-39, but the whole chapter is amazing), and that God has a resurrection body for each of us in the life to come (I Corinthians 15, especially vs. 35-58).
I found this beautiful story that puts all this in a way we can understand. It is a story written by Pastor John Todd who was a minister in 19th Century New England. He was born in Vermont, but soon moved to Connecticut, when both of his parents died when he was six. Young John was given a home by his aunt who he lived with until he left to study for the ministry. When his aunt became seriously ill she wrote Pastor Todd with questions concerning death. He wrote her back with these words of love.
“It is now thirty-five years since I, as a little boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word that you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I will never forget the day when I made the long journey of ten miles to your house in North Killingworth. I can still remember my disappointment when instead of coming for me yourself, you sent Caesar to fetch me.
I well remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey, and as it grew dark, I became lonely and afraid. “Do you think she’ll go to bed before we get there?” I asked Caesar anxiously. “Oh, no.” he said reassuringly. “She’ll stay up for you. When we get out of these here woods, you’ll see her candle shinin’ in the window.”
Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me and that you lifted me, a tired and bewildered little boy, down from the horse. You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove. After supper you took me to my room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep.
You probably realize why I am recalling all of this to your memory. Someday soon God will send for you to take you to a new home. Don’t fear the summons, the strange journey or the dark messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome waiting, and you will be safe in God’s care. I shall watch you and pray for you till you are out of sight, and then wait for the day when I shall make the journey myself, and find my Savior and you waiting at the end of the road to greet me.”
Are you struggling with death right now? Does your faith in Jesus Christ help fill you with hope and peace that you need not fear death? What promises from God do you find most comforting when you think about death? Have you read the scriptures noted above? They are just a few of the large number of promises God has for us in this life and in the next. Take time to find the peace God desires you to have in Him as you live in this life and in the next.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, visit www.lagrangepres.com.