Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Painful Gift

Some of you may be wondering about the title to this posting. A gift is usually something we enjoy receiving. Who would want to receive a gift that causes pain? The reality is that we will all one day receive a painful gift. This morning my mother passed away after a long struggle with various health issues. The pain of the loss of a loved one is never easy. Yet, it is something we all experience the longer we live on this earth. The Bible is clear that we are all destined to die. (Hebrews 9:27) However, whether we see death as an enemy or a friend depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ. In Christ we were given a painful gift in that He died a horrible, painful, and agonizing death so that we could receive the gift of eternal life. Jesus took on human form so He could experience the strain and struggle of our humanity. He identifies with us as Hebrews 4:15 states, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." God knows the pain of loss and we are told He draws near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18; 147:3) Even in the midst of our pain God makes Himself very real. The day before my mother's passing, we had spent time visiting with her. She was on hospice care at the nursing home and although she was not able to respond to us, I believe she could hear us as experts say that hearing is the last sense to go before death. My husband and I were able to read Scripture to her from the book of Revelation regarding the hope yet to come when the New Jerusalem descends from heaven. There will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain and Jesus will rule and reign fully in His power and glory. (Revelation 21 & 22) Prior to our departure, I anointed her with oil and we prayed for her and I told her it was all right to go. The gift that God gave me came the morning of her death as we happened to be in church when she passed away. My church family was able to surround me after the service and pray for me, each one in turn giving me a loving embrace after prayer. I believe God ordained it to be that way so He could personally minister to me through His body, the church. The church body in that moment was faithful to Paul's exhortation in Galatians 6:2, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." I am grateful to God for the 79 years of life that He gave to my mother. In going forward with whatever years of life the Lord has ordained for me, I am confident that He will walk with me through the many other trials and losses that I will experience in the future. I trust Him with my todays and my tomorrows for, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?..For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31b-32;38-39)
To God Be The Glory!
Pastor Sheree