Sunday, May 5, 2013

To Dust You Shall Return

Death is an enemy.  

No matter how we frame it, that truth remains.  It's not a glorious event.  For the Christian, it is not without hope, of course, but it is an enemy nonetheless.  We were created for life.

Four years ago tonight, I lay next to my brother's frail, skeletal form as he struggled through his final hours.  Sounds dramatic, I know. was.  I sometimes wonder what that night was like for him.  I know what it was like for me, and I know that it made me ready to let him go.  

When I remember Jeffrey - his life and his death - I mourn.  There is much to mourn.  But I also give thanks:

For his sense of humor.

For his love of his country and the Marine Corp.

For his love for his children.

For his respect for our parents.

For his quiet endurance during the 9 months that he suffered through cancer and its treatment.

For the way my parents loved him faithfully through many hard times in his life.

For the opportunity to get to know him better those last few reconnect and express my heart to him.

For those who ministered to us during his illness and death:

**Pastor Chris Smith, who came along side us,  shared in our grief, and encouraged my parents and me.

**Denise Gerstung, who sat with me while I wept.

**My church family, who never knew Jeffrey but fed my family after his funeral and burial.

**His wife, Dawnn, who sacrificed herself through patient and diligent care for him every step of the way. 

**New and old friends who sent life-giving words of empathy, grace, and encouragement.

**Hospice nurses, whose strength and gentleness guided us through those final hours.

For his confession of faith in Christ.

For the mercy of Christ, who rewards those laborers who come at day's end just as he rewards those who have labored the whole day.

For the wise, poetic words of comfort from saints of old:

**"Rest of their souls and bone's delivery"

**"Glorified I shall anew with this flesh then be enshrouded"

**"For all the saints who from their labors rest"

**"O, Jesus, grant me hope and comfort"

**"We may trust his purpose wholly, tis his children's welfare solely"

**"For we do not mourn as those without hope"

The light of God's good gifts penetrates even the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death. 

Jeffrey's soul now cries out with the saints under the altar, "How long, O Lord?"  How long until you set things right and make all things new?  How long?  

But he also rests...a rest of sleep...until the day when Christ calls him forth from the grave to reunite his soul with his renewed and incorruptible body.  No more sickness.  No more pain.  No more frailty.  No more tears.  No more sin.  No more sorrow.  

Until then, we remember.  We grieve.  We give thanks.  And we cry out, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." 

1 comment:

Chris said...

Though tragic, it was an honor and a privilege to share time with your family in the midst of your grief and in the midst of your hope in Christ, despite your grief.