I lost a good friend today.
Funny how I can say he was a good friend, when I had never met him in person. But his gentle kindness transcended the 5000 km that lay between us, infiltrating the email room with love and acceptance.
I’ll admit, I’ve shed more than a few tears. Talking to his sister on the phone was heartbreaking. But the thoughts that whisked through my head were the worst.
My natural tendency was to ignore these thoughts. To shelve the grief and keep busy, to go on as if it had never happened. That’s how I have traditionally dealt with grief in my lifetime. I have learned, however, that this only causes the grief to fester and reappear in a myriad of other problems. No, as painful as it would be, I would have to deal with the thoughts. I would have to allow myself to grieve…And so I sat down for some “Abba” time…
First were the questions: Did I do enough for him? Did I show him a clear picture of Jesus?
I spent some time asking God those questions. His response? “Did you ask Me to help you every time you wrote to him? Did you do everything for Him that I told you to do?”
The answer to those two questions is thus: I tried to never write to him without asking God’s help, and to the best of my ability, I did everything God put on my heart to do, I had done as much as I could given the distance that lie between us. No, there is no reason whatsoever to feel guilty about what I had done for him…
Next I was badgered about his eternal destination. Did I truly know his heart? I hadn’t heard much from him in the last days of his life due to complications with his illness. Just where did he stand with the Lord?
But wait. Hadn’t he accepted God? Through this ministry even? Hadn’t he been diligently seeking the Lord over the years since this time? Doesn’t God love us so much that He’ll never stop trying to save us? Couldn’t I trust God with his final destination?
With that, I had peace, and I knew he was in heaven.
That thought brought a measure of comfort. He was finally healed of the physical ailments that had plagued him over the past decade.
But the sadness remained. Was it sadness for the suffering he had endured over the years? Then suddenly I realized what was continuing to spur my grief: He had suffered so much over the past few years, and his life was riddled with regret and lost opportunities. Lord, why had he not been able to find the happiness in this life that he sought?
God’s response was to remind me that his suffering was now over, that he finally had the illness-free body he had longed for. And isn’t it true that true happiness is not of this world anyway? We think we need ____ and ____ to be happy, but as the Bible tells us, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 ESV). Is this why the world’s wisest man tells us, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.” (Eccl. 12:13 NKJV)
I know that I will continue to miss my friend’s near-daily emails. I will miss his reflections on life, his challenging questions, his delight in the little beauties of life, like his cat. I will miss his heart-felt example of being God’s hands to the needy on earth. I will miss it all. But in all, I rejoice that he is in Heaven, free of pain, with our loving Heavenly Father.
And especially, I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who not only took time from His work to help me through this process, but who longs to do just that! Is there someone in your life who has recently left this earth? Remember, God longs to talk to you about it, to give you comfort and peace, to bring you to a place of healing. He longs to fulfill the promise of Psalms 30:11: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy…” (NLT)
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.