Rejoice in Him!

When I was fourteen, family friends lost their fourteen-year-old daughter to a brain aneurysm which silently removed her from the world while she slept. Hers was the first funeral I was allowed to attend.

The parents flanked the white satin-lined coffin where she lay, her fingers gracefully clasping a small cross-adorned Bible to her chest. They greeted each approaching mourner with a warm smile and handshake, their overall demeanor better suited to that of hosting a holiday dinner party.

It seemed there was a macabre role reversal to the event. Instead of family and friends offering consoling words of comfort to the bereft parents, the guests were instead being consoled and encourged. The parents offered the first outstretched hand, the first words of solace, “It’s so very gracious and kind of you to come,” they said. “Our hope is you’ll rejoice with us she’s been called home to her beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ……her little Bible was her favorite possession….”” was the smiling message delivered to several hundred people.

Rejoice. I felt my blood run cold. Rejoice? My parents, not given to physical displays of affection, firmly grasped my arms, clinging, as if sheltering me from a similar fate. We watched in confused amazement and horror, at what appeared to be a celebration of a child’s death.

On the drive home my father broke miles of silence exclaiming, “I could NEVER in a million years feel good about losing any of my children. Never!”.

The visual memory of my wide-eyed shocked, insulted parents juxtaposed with hers, their peace-filled faces and eyes reflecting a gentle, rock-solid faith is compelling, one that has demanded reflection and contemplation over the past three decades.

The Biblical message of the cross – the Gospel – was foundational to the message shared that day by her parents, the cause for their joy, replacing a worldly sorrow which would normally reign.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

They were a thankful people, full of praise for the time Christ allowed them to have with their daughter, knowing she was never really theirs, but was and will always be His, gone home to her eternal Father, Savior and King. Her death and funeral were a demonstration of their hope and faith in Christ, the real Peace that can truly reside within a person when their heart is on the things of eternity, and not on things of this world.

Acts 4:12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.


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