Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read my friend’s latest text. “Hours now.” Her husband was at the edge of eternity. And while I rejoiced that Charles would soon be welcomed into Jesus’ loving arms, I hurt.
I hurt for Karen, his beloved wife, who faces a new journey as a widow.
Don and I hurt because we will miss our friend Charles.
And he and I both grieve for the death of our respective first spouses as the pain resurfaces.
It has been a week of sorrow and tears.
Death is the enemy! But it was never part of God’s Plan. We can hate death, hate what it does to separate us from those we love, hate the pain it brings. I. HATE. Death.
But I also have hope…hope that was refreshed as Don and I recently visited Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, and the Mount of Olives where Jesus died and conquered death, and to which He will return. The tomb could not confine Jesus’ broken body to death’s decay. Instead, He, the Master of life and death, ROSE. Because He lives, we too can live–both now and eternally.
Charles has passed from this earth. But Scripture reassures us that he is very much alive in a realm we know by faith, and from the promises of God. I can picture our loving Savior taking our friend in His arms and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)
When Don and I learned that Charles had passed, we held each other and cried. As we rested together, a precious song filled my mind.
“It is finished, the battle is over,
It is finished, there’ll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord…”
John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” When He came to the village of his friends Mary and Martha, their brother Lazarus had died and been buried. And Jesus cried. He is not removed from our suffering, nor does He leave us to navigate it alone. He has promised NEVER to leave us, NEVER to forsake us.
“When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.” Charles H. Gabriel
I can imagine “our” Charles’ sparkling blue eyes looking around heaven in wonder, his body falling at the feet of Jesus, his tongue proclaiming “My Lord and my God.” I can imagine him thinking, “Oh, Karen, just wait ’til you see Him!”
For Charles, “weeping may (has) endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).
Karen, and those of us who love both Karen and Charles, will weep. We will grieve. We will miss Charles’ infectious smile, his jokes and gentle laugh, his kind words; but we also know that joy will come in the morning, when we who follow Jesus will join Charles and the many others who have gone before, to joy in Christ’s presence forevermore.