Loss of those precious to us and the accompanying grief are common experiences of us all. Over these 47 years of ministry, I have walked with many through these times. Yet, when life requires us to walk this path in a personal loss, one gets a new perspective. I have been reminded of some things that I want to share with you.
One clear lesson in the time of death is that faith in the Lord Jesus means everything. While death is our enemy, for the person of faith, death is a transition, not an end. The promise of eternal life in Heaven transcends the darkness and pain. My mom often said she did not fear the end, “I am going home—I just dread the journey to the end.” But when death comes to a saint of God, both the person and family find unmeasured comfort from the God of all Comfort. Peace rules our hearts as believers.
Little things matter. A kind word, thoughtful card, meal provided, a visit to the home or funeral home, phone call, text, or email bring light into the valley of the shadow of death. Through the years, I have found that many people feel inadequate to find the right words or ways to express condolences to the grieving. Realize that comfort comes from the small acts of kindness and caring shown to those in grief. You don’t have to give a speech or have perfect words, just find a small way to say you care.
The ministry of presence is very powerful. I know the hectic lives we all live. Finding time to attend a funeral or to go by the funeral home can be very challenging. But I assure you, when it is possible, you make a huge impact in the lives of people who are grieving. My heart was so blessed by the people who went the second and third mile to just be present at my mom’s service. While I fully understand that many wanted to be present but could not, the faces of those who joined us to celebrate mom’s home going brought tears of joy to our hearts.
Prayer matters most, and those of you who have gone through these times can identify. God wraps us with the prayers of His people, which is quite frankly a mystical spiritual phenomena. Strength and comfort come through the prayers of God’s people in behalf of those grieving.
Worldly possessions don’t matter. Through the years, I have watched families fuss and fight over worldly possessions of the deceased parent. Tragically, close families no longer speak because money, houses and possessions that will soon pass away became the focus. No car, bank account, vase or Oriental rug is worth destroying relationships.
Some would say I just don’t understand. My mom leaves very little of this world’s goods—true. But my sister and I long ago determined our relationship was more important than things. It helped that my mom did a good job in making sure major things were in order.
If you want your family to maneuver the shark-infested waters of worldly goods, take care of business while you can. The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma is the best place to start. Polla and I have made our plans through the Foundation.
I have been so blessed through this time of loss and grief. We have received all kinds of expressions of sympathy. Thank you all.