Last night one of my best friends in high school went to be with Jesus, shortly after giving birth to her baby boy who is also with Jesus now. When she was in the hospital and they were fighting for her life, I was pleading with God, praying Psalm 30 for her.
To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”
Why would God take a young, strong woman away from the husband she was a helpmeet for and the two young children she nurtured? It doesn't make sense. God, surely there is more for her to do here! Surely her little ones need her more than you do!
Death feels strong. In the old Disney movie Darby O'Gill, the Grim Reaper is coming and as Darby tries to keep him from his daughter, you feel this foreboding, this terror. Death comes and it can't be stopped.
But I'm reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 10: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
It's not death that is strongest. It is God. And it wasn't death that took Lona away. It was the Lord Jesus taking her by the hand and leading her home to be with him. She has so much peace and joy in his presence that for a moment, I envy her, which is blessedly relieving after the fear I felt last night as I mourned, thinking, "That could be me. What if God took me away from my little boy?"
And as we went grocery shopping this morning, Laura Story's voice came over the radio,
When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home.
Death terrifies me - more than it should, especially as one who dearly loves and follows the Lord Jesus. I think it's because it is the ultimate example that life is not in my control. I have no power over life or death, even though I sometimes pretend I have control over other things. Every time someone I love dies, the dam breaks again and every question I have about the sovereignty of God rushes out. Questions I know in my heart are naive to ask.
Last night the Lord turned on a light in my head. My first reaction is to doubt the goodness of God in taking a young wife and mother from her family. I know it's wrong, but the temptation blindsides me and too often I yield to it. But my dear friend now in heaven will never doubt God's goodness again - even though it is she that was taken from her precious loves ones. I think, "Leaving my Charlie motherless would be torture so that I couldn't even enjoy heaven!" But what a selfish, distrusting thought that is. Of course it would never have been Lona's choice to leave, but she understands now, so well, how good God is and how very much she can trust him with everything.
Lona has always been an example of loving Jesus and trusting the Lord. But she's experiencing both of those things in a deeper, fuller way, even now. And her heart would be for us to lay our questions and hurt and fears at the feet of Jesus and trust him fully, as well.
Today I reread Psalm 30. And these words spoke to my soul
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
This is what the Lord has done for Lona. May he turn our mourning to dancing as well, as we thank him and trust in his goodness.
Our prayers go upward for you, dear loved ones of Lona's. May the Lord hold your heart as you grieve and take steps away from this loss.