God walked with us on the path of saying good-bye to Jack’s mom and left His fingerprints on our week.
I admit, I was so in awe of seeing His presence and provision, I forgot at times that I was supposed to be “in mourning.”
Here’s what we saw God do as we planned, prepared for, and participated in saying our final goodbye to my mother-in-law. I’m so grateful.
The timeliness of her death. She didn’t have to go to a nursing home. She passed away before we had to move her to a hospice facility. My sister-in-law and cousin was able to clean out and empty her assisted living apartment before her death so we didn’t have to deal with that after the death.
The final hours were few. She entered the hospital with another bout of pneumonia but it seemed less severe than usual. She went downhill quickly the last day. Yet even five hours before she left us, she spoke to Jack’s sister and made an attempt at a joke. While it’s been a difficult few months with multiple trips to the hospital and frustrations with her need to eat pureed food, we’re grateful that God, in His mercy, allowed her to go quickly.
It’s all in the details. Unexpected trips of any kind are costly. Yet over and over, we experienced discounts, cheaper meals, a lovely hotel at a reduced rate, monetary gifts from church members, and reasonably priced airline tickets. At first, our younger daughter was prohibited from coming because she couldn’t find any airline ticket less than $855. She took the Priceline risk and got a ticket for $420.
Kind People. Every hotel clerk, restaurant service, and airport personnel, without even knowing our needs, was more than kind. We admitted to one waitress why we were in Atlanta. “Smiley” went into high gear, promising to take extra special care of us, encouraging us to “take your time” and slipping in a couple of “on the house” things she probably wasn’t supposed to do. We told her we believed God had sent her to us; we needed her care at that moment.
The funeral home also went above and beyond. We had a private burial for just the immediate family yet because it was raining, the mortuary set up the traditional canopy and chairs for us and accommodated us in several other ways that weren’t “on the books.”
Where To Find God
If any of us had a choice about the matter, we’d opt to never go through the difficult moments. When it’s something that has to be, we’d prefer to control when the difficult time happens or how it happens. To be honest, it would have fit my schedule better for my mother in law to wait until after Christmas. Okay, let’s be really honest. It would be cool to never have to go through a family funeral.
But that’s not life. Death is part of life. God is in control of life and death, not me. I wouldn’t have wished my mother-in-law to stay one more hour on this earth. Heaven was waiting. How could we possibly want to withhold that from her?
Sometimes God prevents tragedy. Sometimes He delays. Other times, all the time, He walks with us, cushioning our grief, and caring for us in the midst of the pain, He walks beside us and shares the moment. In fact, He longs to be part of the process. He wants to hold my hand and help me over the larger boulders. After making it through the trickier terrain, He wants to stand with me and enjoy the beautiful vistas He has waiting for me.
No matter what crisis you face, God is there and He is working. You may not see Him at work, not at that moment, not for some time. If you are having trouble seeing God through the blur of pain, pray that He will open your eyes so you can see His fingerprints. He may not be accomplishing the big thing, He may not be doing what you want Him to do; He is still there. He is still providing for you, ready to give you His strength so you can cope. Turn from what you want Him to do or what you want Him to stop. Fix your eyes on Him and ask, what ARE you doing, Lord?
When I read, Psalm 145:4,5, the word “meditate” jumps off the page at me:
One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works
How can I see what God is doing? I have to stop and think about it. I have to ponder the events. I compare what is normal and expected to what really happened. I look at the unusual, the timing, the norm and I see God. I look at the strength that is not my own, the words beyond my wisdom that flow from my mouth, and I know that God is working within and through me.
I take God at His word. He loves me. He has a lavish love for me. He delights in me. With that in mind, I go on a God-hunt. I look for Him in the corners of my crisis. I revel in His care for me and His desire to share the hard times with me.
So enthralled with what God has done, I smile through my tears and glory in His grace and mercy .