“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)
My youngest daughter turned one on Thanksgiving Day, exactly one day after my stepmother died of colon cancer.
I wasn’t new to death–I’d lost my mom 17 months earlier to early onset Alzheimer’s disease–but this loss was different. My mother, who had been on hospice care for the last two years of her life, had basically been unable to communicate with me, or anyone else, for many months leading up to her passing.
Yet, up until a couple of weeks before my stepmother died, I had a tangible, reciprocal relationship with her. The last time I saw her, we talked for hours, and my oldest daughter insisted she watch the Disney movie, Frozen, with us. While she was in no way a replacement for my mother, she had become a trusted friend to me and a grandmother figure to my children in the final year of her life.
In an effort to avoid disrupting previously made plans, my husband and I ended up mourning the loss of my stepmom at her memorial service and then immediately racing home to celebrate my toddler’s first year of life at her turkey-themed birthday party the same afternoon.
To say I was a jumble of emotions on that stressful and exhausting Saturday would be an understatement. At any given moment, I didn’t know whether to feign a smile or cry.
As much as her loss reopened a barely healed wound in my heart, I found comfort in the fact that anyone who knew my stepmom knew she desperately loved Jesus and longed to be near Him.
She knew where she was headed, and so did her friends and family. Of course, I wasn’t ready to give up the joyful exuberance, contagious optimism and unparalleled kindness she brought to our lives, but, in the midst of my sorrow, I couldn’t help but praise Jesus for delivering her from the excruciating pain and darkness of her final months.
I found gratitude in my grief.
I knew that my stepmom had made mistakes and was far from perfect, but I also knew that her failures no longer mattered. Jesus had made her whole. Where she and my mom are now, there is “No more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” He has given my loved ones who have gone before me the only perfect peace and happiness available in the entire universe.
I rejoice in God’s faithfulness and in His infinite grace and mercy. He always keeps His word–he always heals and restores the bodies, minds and hearts of His children–no matter how frail, broken, weak or fragile they are by the time He brings them home.
We are not our shortcomings. We are not our ailments. And we are not our fears. We are part of God’s creation–integral pieces that fit perfectly into His larger-than-life plan. I thank God every day that my time in this painful and heartbreaking world is not the end of my journey but merely a necessary chapter in His great story of redemption.
Jesus knows, loves and chose each one of us before we ever chose Him, and that means that we can rest in Him, no matter how deep and wide our grief extends.
He is our light.
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Discuss: Are you walking through a challenging time? Write down ways you can practice gratefulness by praising God.
Pray: Dear Father, Thank you for loving us so much that you gave us your only Son, Jesus Christ, that although our earthly beings may perish, we will live on with you for eternity. We praise you for your mighty and merciful works. We praise you for your peace and comfort. And we praise you for our grief and struggles, Lord. We praise you for continually refining and restoring us and reminding us that this is not our home. Thank you for giving us gratitude in our grief, Father. Please help us to bring glory and honor to your name each day, through every heartbreak, trial and hardship. Amen.