Last Saturday, a lady from my church met with an accident. She took her last breath in her son’s arms, just as the paramedics arrived.
Her family was devastated. Our church mourned with them. Why did God take her? Why snuff out the life of someone who served so fervently?
Her mother sobbed. The white-haired are not supposed to die after the black-haired.
Her best friend wailed. They would never see each other again on this earth.
Her pastor’s voice wavered as he delivered the message. He had to pause multiple times to compose himself.
This was a lady who had slogged hard for her family. Who was so generous with helping others: “God gave me a van so I can drive more people around.” Who drove construction workers to and from church every Sunday evening, without fail: “Because God has been so good and nothing can repay Him.”
Why would God call someone home so … prematurely?
It is well with my soul.
Hymn-writer Horatio Spafford wrote the words to this timeless hymn after he lost his children at sea. Phillip Bliss, who wrote the melody to the song, lost his wife when the train they were in plunged into an icy Ohio river.
They lost their nearest and dearest. Their fortunes. They were plagued by thoughts of losing God’s love.
But still they sang: It is well with my soul.
Or as John Piper thundered to a crowd of students in Birmingham, Alabama: “I’ll tell you what makes Jesus look beautiful… It’s when you smash your car, and your little girl goes flying through the windshield, and lands dead on the street . . . and you say through the deepest possible pain, God is enough.”
It remains a mystery why God sometimes chooses to call home the good ones so early, but leaves so many bad nuts on earth. Perhaps it is His grace, His patience for the unsaved (2 Peter 3:8-10). Perhaps it is part of his promise of rest (Matthew 11:28-30). I don’t know.
Through this all, our mourning is made a little easier because of the hope we have in Jesus. Because of our common identity, one day we will be reunited in heaven. We said 再见 – see you again – and not 永别 – goodbye forever – because we will see this sister again. It is not an eternal separation.
This week, the world celebrates love. And now, my church celebrates the love a sister had for God and His people. And while we mourn, we rejoice that she is chilling in heaven with Jesus, waiting for the rest of us to return home.
And so we learn to say, through the tears: It is well with my soul.