I sat beside the elderly man’s hospital bed waiting for his final breath. Mottled skin, irregular breathing, and coma indicated he would expire soon. A medication treating diabetes had destroyed the liver causing his body to swell to twice its normal size. Birth and death—beginnings and endings—are both struggles. As a nurse, I had witnessed hundreds of deaths, but this passing was different. He was my father.
Within twenty minutes, Dad had gone out into eternity. I knew I would see him in heaven but the idea that I would never see him again on earth was as irrational and surreal as a dream. Blinding tears flowed freely down my face; there was a hole in my heart. I bawled. “How will I ever get along without you, Daddy?”
Weighed down by the shroud of grief, I was surprised to be able to meet and greet family, friends, and acquaintances during visiting hours at the funeral home without falling apart. I was astonished that I could stand and sing his favourite hymn at the funeral, “Amazing Grace” without emotionally crumbling. An indescribable peace, provided by the Holy Spirit, enveloped me.
A few days later, my family and I gathered around Dad’s casket at the cemetery. Amid soft cries and whimpers, my youngest brother Jim sobbed inconsolably. A late in life baby, seventeen years younger than me, he wanted his little ones to grow up with Dad as my children had done. Silently, I wished God had given Dad more time; seventy-five years was much too short.
Losing my Dad brought the stark realization of the fragility and finality of life and tested my faith. If ever one doubted there was a God or an afterlife, the loss of a loved one will either cause you to run to Jesus or cause you to turn away from Him. I chose to turn to Him.
Throughout the following weeks, months, and years, I grieved, searched the Word, and questioned God.
“Why did you take Daddy so soon, Lord? He witnessed for you wherever he went. Others claim to be Christians, but they do nothing for you. Why did you let him die that horrid way? Didn’t he suffer enough growing up as an orphan?”
A Christian for forty years at the time of Dad’s death, I knew the Scriptures but sometimes the head and heart do not agree. Emotions get in the way, resulting in foggy thinking.
Today, almost eleven years later, I still have periods of overwhelming grief but time and the Holy Spirit have helped lessen the hurt. The Lord has not answered my questions; but I will have an eternity to ask Him. For now, He only points me to His Word, asks me to trust Him, and I do.
Life is fleeting; there is not one guarantee of another minute nor is anything in this life permanent. In marriage, we pledge to love each other until death. However, sometimes love is not enough and divorce enters in. Our employer gives us a position but events occur which cause us to lose the job. We dedicate our children to the Lord, have hopes and aspirations for them, but sometimes they make wrong choices and hurt or disappoint us.
God gives us life but He makes no promises as to how long we will live. He does promise us that we will never die and live forever with Him if we trust in His Son for the remission of our sins.
Within the circle of life is Jesus Christ who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He tells us to live in the Spirit and not by our circumstances; things seen are temporal, unseen things are eternal. He also says all things work for our good.
Dad believed and lived by God’s Word. He loved people and reached out to them with the Gospel. As his oldest child and daughter, I have decided to do the same. Our bodies, ravaged by sin and disease, will eventually die but the Bible says death will be swallowed up in victory. We will reign with Christ in eternity with our new bodies. Our Lord’s resurrection is our proof and our promise.
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A true story.
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