In the Shadow of Death

Our Beloved Pet

Our Beloved Pet


Are we ever prepared for the death of a loved one?

On Martin Luther King Day, we had to put down our beloved 13 yr. old cocker spaniel. Three days later, my 93 yr. old mother-in-law, Mary, passed away.

Losing a family member is devastating. Losing two loved ones in the same week is more painful.

Many of us who have a child with serious mental illness (MI) worry about an early death of that child because MI can lead a person to commit suicide.

Our son, Chris, often says, “I won’t kill myself. But if I die, I’ll be in a much better place.”
Each time he repeats those words, I wonder if God is preparing my heart to face the unthinkable: Chris’s life being cut short. How could I face such tragedy?

Christ’s disciples faced the death of their Lord. Such loss. Soon after, He arose from the grave and appeared to them. Such joy! But, then He left them again as He ascended.

Then the disciples did something unexpected. They worshiped Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and praised God.

When our dog died, my first reaction wasn’t joy. When I saw Mary in the hospital after she suffered a massive stroke, my inclination wasn’t to worship and praise God. Sadness flooded my heart. Tears flowed.

How were Jesus’ followers able to praise God when their Master left them? Luke tells us the answer.

“While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24:51-53

They looked to God. They stayed in His presence.

Only there, can we find the same comfort. Remaining in His Word and continuing in prayer.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
We can have victory over the enemy’s attempt to get us to abandon our faith.

The Bible tells us that we have a cloud of witness (Hebrews 12). Heroes of faith who have gone on before us are cheering us on. Can you hear them speaking to you? They’re telling you, “Trust God. Be patient. He is compassionate and merciful. Keep running your race. You can do it because God is faithful.”

Still, I wonder if I could maintain a trust in God if my son died young. I know the Holy Spirit would comfort me.

That same Comforter helped Job. A man who lost not just one child, but all his children…in addition to his livelihood. Yet, he still praised God.

“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” Job 1:20-21

Job wasn’t the only one who lost his business and all his children.
In 1873 Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago lawyer, wrote the words to the favorite hymn “It is Well with My Soul.”

Job and Horatio Spafford were real people. We can have a blessed assurance that God will help us through such grief. We may not understand why God allows suffering. But by faith we too can say, “It is well with my soul.”

Listen to that hymn as you read Horatio Spafford’s remarkable story.

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