I recently had the privilege- yes, I intend that word- to attend the funeral of a beautiful friend, whom I would never have the chance to meet.
Her name was Sarah.
She was a mom of three- her kid’s ages are similar to my three. She was a wife of 10 years- she passed just a few days shy of her 10 year anniversary as a matter of fact. And she was a daughter of the King- the title she clinged most firmly too, and the identity she anchored herself in.
I didn’t know her, but I knew she loved Jesus. And it was at her funeral that I learned the beautiful extent to which she lived for her faith in Him. Her aunt gave a remarkable eulogy, where she likened Sarah to the many fruits of the spirit. Things like patience, kindness, gentleness, self control… although they’re words I’d love to use to describe myself, I know in so many ways these are the areas I tend to struggle the most. Certainly, I can’t say that if it were my funeral tomorrow, someone would deliver a similar eulogy for me.
It made me think…
What would people say at my funeral?
I did a bible study a few years ago… and then again a few months after the first time. It’s called ‘What’s it like to be married to me?’ And yes, it is as scary as it sounds. You can imagine why I decided to start it for a second time not all that long after I had completed it the first time. It’s a hard question to confront. And it encouraged some difficult changes that needed to be made within myself. But one of the exercises in that study was to think about and write out what you would like your spouse to say about you, should you pass tomorrow.
This was truly a profound and altering thing to think about. For one, there is the long list of all the things you’d love for them to say about you- that you were kind, funny, a loving mother, a fantastic wife. There is also the list of things that you could probably guess that they would say- things that might fall a little bit closer to the ‘real’ you. And then, there is the truth. Stuff they may or may not say, out of respect for you. That was the list that frightened me most.
My husband had spent several years of his childhood with Sarah’s husband, Aaron. That’s how we came to be at this service. And when Aaron took the stage, on his late wife’s 31st birthday, standing in front of her mourning friends and family as well as their three kids, he spoke so gracefully and beautifully about his wife, Sarah.
From one person to the next, up to and including Aaron, Sarah was defined and remembered most by her relationship with her Lord and Savior. And if I had not already been so very moved by the truly beautiful things that everyone had said about her and how she had lived her life in faith, Aaron absolutely brought home the point as he leaned into HIS faith and his comfort in knowing that she was so firmly anchored in hers.
Although I love the Lord and my faith is strong, I can’t say that anyone would necessarily describe that as a foundational part of me. And that really made me reflect…
You see, Aaron said something that touched me so deeply, and I’ve thought about it almost everyday since…
He said, although everyone kept referring to Sarah’s untimely and unexplained sudden death as a tragedy, he really saw it as a victory. As hard as it is for us to wrap our heads around this fact sometimes, our home is not here on earth. Our home is in our saviors arms on the other side of this. Our peace comes from the assurance that Jesus has already conquered the grave. Sarah isn’t dead, she’s home. She’s released. She’s free.
This is a victory. The angels are singing. There is a party in heaven.
Yes, he was sad and yes, he was angry. But that’s a human- and fair- perspective. He reminded us that Sarah came here, she gave her heart to Jesus at age 4, and she spent every single day of her life living for him, until he called her home. And you know, I couldn’t help but think of it- once I saw it through his eyes- as a sort of early release. She got out. We’re still here, but he let her come home early.
This is a victory.
It completely changed my heart and my sorrow. It was so profound to watch a man- a husband and a father, now alone- stand, so anchored.
I never met Sarah. But she helped anchor me. Even in her death, she was still living for the Lord and telling of his great grace, and his undeniable mercy. Her servant life, transcended the grave and touched my life.
I chose that day, to start with the fruits of the spirit. I know that I’m not perfect. And for that, I will always need the grace of Jesus that I know I don’t deserve and will never earn. But what if, one day, someone could stand before my loved ones and speak of my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control… above all else, what if they could say… that I was anchored in Him.
That would be a victory. And yes, it would absolutely be His.
Thank you. Thank you for your brief life and for living each day as an example. Thank you for the hope you’ve given me, and the encouragement I’ve gained from you.
Thank you for being so brave and so very faithful. Thank you for leaning in, instead of away, as you walk this difficult path. I see you, and I can only imagine what it must be like each day to wake up without her. Thank you for being so encouraging to us all- as believers- in a time where we should be the one’s encouraging you. Thank you for what you’ve done for my husband, I know he’s very touched and changed by your marriage and your beautiful example.
Thank you for the many blessings that you have given us all- first and foremost your son- but also for the life of Sarah, Lord. Thank you that we know, without question, where and who Sarah is. What a beautiful peace it is to know that when we mourn, you mourn. When we hurt, you hurt. And when we go, you’re there to greet us.
Some say that Christians believe in God for moments like this- because it’s easier to move on when we feel the comfort of believing that our loved ones are ‘in a better place.’
Believing in Jesus isn’t a coping mechanism for hard times. It’s a way to anchor yourself in the truth throughout your life. Sarah did that.
That is a victory.