"be faithful unto death"
So here's the thing: I've been thinking a lot about death lately.
It's been a combination of a few things. First of all, as I've mentioned, our family cat died the first week of March, and our dog died a little more than two weeks later. Both of them died at home, so I was very aware, very present, right up until the end of their sweet, loyal lives. My husband and I also took care of their bodies ~ creating a coffin for the cat, out of a box in the garage, and then burying her under the apple tree. The dog, being a bigger animal, we took to the vet, and they took care of it for us.
But all of it was up close and very, very personal. And surprisingly to me, none of it was distasteful or unpleasant at all. I mean, it was very painful, and very sad, but to be honest, taking care of them ~ all the way to the end ~ seemed like a natural part of owning them, you know? I felt glad ~ honored, even ~ that I was able to care for them. And I know, they were only animals, but my mind went to the women who cared for Jesus' body after His death. What a bittersweet joy it must have been for them.
Then, a few days ago, I was chatting with my cousin. Her dog died recently, too, so we somehow ended up comparing our experiences a little bit. From that, our conversation turned to the death of her mother-in-law, several months ago. She died in her living room, in a bed that had been moved in for her so that she could die in her own home. Her family was around her, and she just slowly drifted away. And my cousin and I talked about how beautiful death can be, when it's under the best possible circumstances.
One of the thoughts that has kept coming to me over these past several weeks, is that though you are in same room, though you hold the hand, or pet the head of your loved one, death is something they do alone. Death is something that each one of us must do alone. The heart stops beating, the lungs cease to inflate, the brain stops communicating with the body.
Then, this morning, I read these words by Charles Spurgeon, based on Hebrews 11:13, "These all died in faith."
"Behold the epitaph of all those blessed saints who fell asleep before the coming of our Lord! It matters nothing how else they died, whether of old age, or by violent means... they all died in faith.
In faith they lived ~ it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died..."
I found this thought wonderfully encouraging, because it very eloquently states the beautiful truth that though no soul on earth can experience death with another, we are not forsaken. And I would have explained that by saying that God's Spirit is with us in death as in life ~ that He promised that He is with us always.
But I like the way Spurgeon said it. Because it highlights that while it's important that He is with us, it's also important that we know that He is with us. And that's faith. Spurgeon says that faith is about the past ~ the knowledge that who we were is gone, and we are each a new creation in Him. But faith is also about the future... about eternal life with Him.
Faith is the assurance of things we hope for; the evidence of things we can not see. It is real; it is solid; it is forever.
~ "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so God will bring with Him
those who sleep in Jesus" ~
1 Thessalonians 4:14