“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
“Good-bye, Michele,” I said in my heart as I looked upon her casket.
She didn’t look anything like I had remembered. The multiple surgeries and the chemotherapy took a huge toll.
Tears poured down my face as I quickly turned away and rushed toward the pews to find a seat. I rifled through my handbag to find some tissues. I wanted to bolt out of the sanctuary and stand outside in the church’s foyer or parking lot to relieve my pain.
Fighting for her Life
My friend had been fighting cancer for about four years. She lost the battle last week, and the Lord called her home. The news of her passing hit me like a brick. I didn’t want to believe it. I regretted that we hadn't been in touch with one another, and I didn't know how sick she was. I prayed for God to strengthen her husband, children, extended family members and her friends (myself included) who loved her. I didn’t know how I or anyone else was going to get through today, but the Lord was with us.
When I got up at 5 am this morning to pray, the Lord reminded me that I didn’t have to grieve like those who have no hope. Michele was saved and now at home with Him, and I’d see her again. The Lord also reminded me that she was actually alive even though she had passed away (John 11:25-26). Suddenly, I had some peace, and I felt confident that I’d be able to face the day.
Good ol' Times
Michele was a wonderful person. She loved to cook, entertain, laugh, dance and hang out with the girls. We had some good times together.
Her funeral was bittersweet. The officiating pastor comforted everyone with the Word of God, and, boy, did she preach the gospel. And even though my husband and I mourned the loss of our friend, we were reunited with old friends of ours we hadn’t seen in 10 years. We were so happy to see everyone. We hugged, kissed, cried, laughed and reminisced about the good times we used to have. After the repast, we took pictures, promised to share them through email, and keep in touch. I can’t wait for all of us to see each other again.
Today, I learned the importance of celebrating my friend’s life, remembering the good times, and not forgetting that she is with the Lord in glory. I also learned that God can turn your sorrow into joy in an instant — even at a funeral. Only our God can do that. May we praise His Holy Name!