The life of a Christian is just like anyone else’s, filled with both good and bad experiences. We should never expect everything to be all sunshine and rainbows once we become a follower of Jesus. But our hope in Christ does change our perspective.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33
April was a mixed bag of blessings for my family. My father passed away after living in a nursing home for four years with advanced dementia. Not only had his mind been stolen from us, but his body didn’t work for him the way it once had. He was bound to a wheelchair, couldn’t speak well enough to be understood, and had to have everything done for him.
Living 2,000 miles away precluded me from seeing him more than a week at a time once a year. Each year I saw him he had slipped a little farther away. The prayer of my mother, my sisters and me had been a plea for God to just take him home. To make him whole in mind and body again so he could sing with the angels and worship with the saints.
For reasons unknown to us, God chose to leave him on this earth for longer than we expected. Truthfully, longer than what I wanted. Sometimes I tried to imagine what it was like for him in those moments when he was lucid. When he knew what was going on, but couldn’t communicate or do for himself. And sometimes I tried to reconcile the man who had been my daddy with the person before me. Both exercises always ended in sorrow.
So when my mother called to tell me he was on oxygen and would probably not live throughout the week I was sad. The thing I had been praying for was imminent and I knew it was a good thing, but it still hurt. I was sad for me. Sad for my mom. Sad for my sisters. I was not sad for my father. I was excited for him. And when he did pass away I was awash with peace and joy for him. He was with my Jesus, dancing and singing and whole and absolutely complete.
My father’s death produced a family reunion of sorts. People I haven’t seen in ages came to honor the life of a wonderful man. Funerals are thought to be sad occasions, but this was a celebration. We had mourned his loss for four years. This was a time to rejoice. Because my father had fought the good fight and finally won the prize. An eternity with God. And it just doesn’t get any better than that!
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:3