I am now nearly 38 years old and as I reflect on my life I realize that I have been blessed to this point in that I have not experienced much tragedy. I have however gone through several times of loss and, by the grace of the Lord, I have also supported friends and family who have experienced these types of hard times. I do not believe that there is any specific thing that we should do to support others however the key comes down to one thing, love.
The first experience that I can remember concerning lose can when I was eleven years old. My parents were out of town for a few days and my grandmother was staying with me at our house. My dog, Buster, had gone out one morning and didn’t come back. Soon, our neighbor knocked on the door and explained that Buster had run out in front of his that morning and been hit.
I ran down to the site and found Buster had crawled under a bush. I crawled in after him and picked him up and started to carry him home. As I carried him in my arms he died. Knowing now what the evil and sin in this world I realize that there are so many people who suffer far greater things than this but for an eleven years old boy who had not experienced any lose before, this was a major ordeal. I can remember going into the bathroom to try to wash the blood off of my arms and feeling such a pain in my heart and stomach that I eventually vomited. All I could see when I closed my eyes was Buster looking up at me while I carried him and then closing his eyes. The memory is still just as vivid in my mind today as it was then. Over the next several days I went through the process of mourning as my family helped to support me through it. But, I always wrestled in my mind with the question, why did this happen and what had I done to deserve this?
The second time I remember being affect by lose came when I was eighteen years old. I had a friend in the community who I often played sports together with. He went to different school then I did but we still ended up playing together quite often. He was talented and had an opportunity to play sports in college. One day we had finished playing together and he left with some friends to go to the college that he would be attending for a meeting. Along the way there was a car accident and he, along with several others, died. I can remember attending the funeral later that week and not being able to understand why this would have happened. This young man had done nothing wrong. He did not drink, did not smoke, did not do drugs, attended church, and got great grades in school. Why would this happen to someone who seemed as though they were doing everything the right way?
Over the next fifteen years, as I became more active in church and in the community, I saw others dealing with lose and heartache. I attended many funerals and I saw people going through very difficult situations. Some of the situations seemed as though they should have been do devastating that it made you wonder how the family and oved ones involved could ever live their lives again. Yet, so often, even in the most difficult of circumstances, I saw people stand up and have a greater sense of peace than should have been possible given the circumstances they were going through. I knew the text book answer was something along the lines of, “I have comfort know that they knew Jesus and are with Him now, and I can feel Jesus here with me.” But, in reality, that seemed more like a coping mechanism to me and was just something someone would to make themselves feel better. The reality was however, that while I do believe I knew Jesus, I had never truly had an encounter with Him in which I knew He was truly there.
In 2013 -2014 I went through a fundamental change in my life and through it I did have an encounter with Christ. I came to know Him not just as a name but as a real and living person who loved me and who was always with me. I found that He talked to me and I could talk to Him and He would help me and direct me. Then at the beginning of 2015 my grandmother passed away. I had always been very close to my grandmother and spent just about every weekend with her when I was young. I truly believed that she and I had a special connection and I had always dreaded the day that she would pass away. Anyone who was around her knew that truly had a relationship with Jesus. She talked to Him and He talked to her. While, just as all of us, she didn’t get everything right, there was no questions that she listened and obeyed Him and His commands and her life was a testament to this. I was blessed to be asked to preach at her funeral and as I was preparing I realized that throughout the entire process up to that point I had not cried at all. I thought, I must have become cold hearted or insensitive, who doesn’t cry when their grandmother passes away? But the absolute truth was whenever I thought about what happened I was filled with joy. I could imagine how happy she was and how in her life, the fight was over and Jesus had come out victorious. She was now home and, in my heart, and mind I was more in the mood for a celebration than a funeral, and that is what granny had always told me it would be.
Several months ago, my father asked all of the kids and grandkids to write something about granny as part of a biography about her life that he was putting together. As I wrote, for the first time when I thought about her, I cried. It had been over three years since I had seen her and the truth is that I simply missed her. The feeling was never sad and in fact it was hopefully. I know that one day I too will go home to be with Jesus and on that day, I will see granny again. In Christ there is no end and no goodbyes for those who believe in Him. In the meantime, I believe with all of my heart, mind, and soul that she is in heaven with Christ and happier then she has ever been. To know that truth is a greater comfort and blessing than anything else could be.
I came away from the entire experience of my grandmother’s passing understanding what all those people I had witnessed go through difficulties were talking about. Jesus truly is real and He truly is alive and the greatest thing that we can do is to live our lives as an example of who He is to those who are still here with us. Look around your life today and if there is anyone who may not know Christ do not wait another day. Let them know the truth of who Christ is and how much He loves us. Telling them about Christ and then living your life in a way that demonstrated you truly believe what you have said is the greatest act of love you can ever give to them.
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