Yesterday we all attended the memorial service for our friend Jennifer. It was an amazing service, absolutely filled with the hope of the gospel. Three friends of Jennifer's gave beautiful tributes to her, and then her husband Joe spoke. I couldn't believe he was able to get through the whole thing--I was praying for strength for him!--but he did. What a powerful testimony he gave. He was able to give thanks not only for Jennifer's life, but also for her death. In all the tributes, it was very evident that Jennifer lived her life for Christ, and she sought to know Him more and more deeply. That is also her desire for each of us. He shared a poem written by Martha Snell Nicholson called "The Thorn".
I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.
Wow--what a perspective on this terrible tragedy, which Joe himself said was the hardest thing he ever has had to face. But truly for a Christian, death is not the end. There is hope, and for right now, peace and even joy. Joe said that he has already come to know God in a deeper way through this, and it was evident that he was trusting God's plan for his children as well. What faith! I am praying that Jennifer's faith will have a tremendous impact on many through her death. I was so glad we brought all our kids so that they could see how Christians deal with tremendous pain. Hopefully Joe's testimony will bear fruit in their lives as well.
But this family is in a long marathon, not a sprint. Please keep praying for them, as they work out the realities of life without Mom.