Last week I lost a dear friend. She had been ill for many months after a knee surgery and struggled to bounce back. Her death was slightly unexpected though – we all assumed she would be back on her feet soon even though she suffered from chronic pain, asthma, and even heart issues. We assumed because she was of the hardiest stock, never taking “no” as an answer and doing as she damn well pleased.
When she had to start using oxygen, she didn’t simply carry a small tank with her. Instead, she obtained a cart, which she man-handled out of her car each Sunday, tromping into church with it trailing behind her – banging on the steps, the walls, and chairs in her wake. She didn’t care. It was essential for her to get around – it carried her oxygen, her Bible and anything else she needed. Nothing stopped her from going to church.
When she had her knee surgery, the doctors wanted her to stay in the hospital and receive therapy. She refused. She got about three days of therapy and then proclaimed she could do it at home. And she went home. She longed to get back to church – to her Lord. But it would never be.
Her daughter-in-law told me that the last time she had to pick her up off the floor she had lay there for six hours, waiting. You see she knew her daughter-in-law was sleeping, but had to get up around 7 to get her kids off to school. She waited… on the floor… not wanting to wake her. I know that she was talking with God that entire time. Finding a way to pass the time with Him and utilizing that space as her church.
You see, she was so firm in her faith. She had survived an abusive husband, ungrateful co-workers, strict and uncaring bosses, death – including the loss of her beloved second husband – and had suffered with ailments for many years. But she always had a smile…always had a hug ready. Her faith was in the Lord. He had seen her through so much and He would do it again – she had no doubts. Even amidst her pain and suffering she found comfort in His promises to her. She knew her true treasures lay beyond this world.
She would often comfort me during times of my own distress, promising to pray for me. And I know she did. She had the best stories about her life – which seemed mostly tragic – but they always ended with, “I know God was watching over me.” Her faith never wavered and she never stumbled. She knew on whom she could rely and encouraged others to do the same.
When I spoke with her daughter-in-law after she passed, she told me, “She’s in the place she most wanted to be.” What a testimony. And I knew it was true. Although I’m sure she didn’t want to leave her family, her true love was in Jesus Christ her Savior. She had come through all her sufferings to finally be in His presence and it had not been for naught.
I know she would want me to share this message today – for her death is not a tragic loss, but is indeed, a victory.
…then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.
Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 54-58 NIV
Rest in peace my friend and enjoy your victory.