I host a weekly lectionary Bible study. Our study is truly ecumenical, with four Presbyterians, one Baptist, one Gospel Church member, and, until just a couple of months ago, one Anglican, a lady whom I will call Susan. She was a recent addition, introduced to us by an older lady in our group who had been friends with both Susan and her mother for many years. Susan had been raised an Anglican, but had lapsed from her denomination a long time ago. She watched Charles Price's ministry on Sunday television regularly. She was also a very private person, and apart from the fact that she lived alone, had been divorced for a long time, and had two sons who lived far away, we knew little else about her.
Nevertheless, Susan was like a breath of fresh air to our group. She brought laughter and a keen sense of humour to our deliberations. She was a searcher after biblical truth, very articulate, insightful, and always ready to contribute intelligently to our studies. She had an uncommon knack of coaxing unusual insights from the readings, provoking further thought and discussion. She was truly a "nice person", and we simply loved her.
In late June, the lady who had introduced Susan to our group grew concerned because she hadn't heard from her, and couldn't get hold of her. Her vehicle was still in her apartment's parking lot. Doors were forced, and Susan was found dead across her bed, a victim of diabetic shock. Most of us never knew she suffered from severe Type 1 diabetes.
The effect on our group has been to demoralize and diminish us. Now we know first-hand how true are the words John Donne wrote a long time ago:
- No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main. …
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
Many questions have assailed us. How could a woman who, as we found out later, kept juices in every room against just such an eventuality — plus an emergency pager — be felled like that at the relatively young age of 63? How, God? And why, God? Shock and hurt — hurt felt all the more when she was cremated without service, as she wished. All these emotions and more have been and are being felt by all members of our group. Gradually — very gradually — has come acceptance, a necessary prerequisite to recovery.
Isaiah 55:8-9 – "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (NKJV)
Acceptance means acknowledging that God's will must be done. Our group adjourned for the summer to nurse our grief, to gather our thoughts and fond memories of Susan, which will never fade completely, and to move on towards our recommencement come September. We believe that God has a place for Susan in heaven, and this comforts us.
Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NKJV)
Prayer: Dear Father, comfort those of us who grieve. Raise us up from our despair, remind us of the wonderful love that You will never withhold from us and those we love, and set our feet firmly again on life's pilgrimage towards the beautiful eternity with You which awaits us. In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.