Last Friday I gave the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral. My grandmother, Mary Downey, was an incredible woman of faith and love. She was diagnosed with cancer that advanced very quickly, just two months ago. She passed away last week. The speed and circumstances were surprising and difficult.
I lost my Grandpa Downey in January 2011 and my Grandpa Lundin later that spring. That year forced me to really think about death in very personal terms for the first time in a long time. Contemplating these things that year drew me closer to Jesus.
My grandmother had strong faith in Jesus, her savior, and our family does as well. This means that while we said goodbye, we knew it is not final. We find our hope in the gospel.
Last Friday I stood in the pulpit of the church I grew up in and shared my memories of my grandmother. Then, I closed by sharing the hope I found in her death. While you, dear readers of this site, did not know my grandmother, In memory of her, I want to share that same hope with you:
I find great comfort knowing that we have a Lord that understands our grief, just as my grandmother found comfort in Him three years ago after her husband’s death.
As the author of Hebrews points out, Jesus is our sympathetic high priest. He has suffered all the trials that life on earth has to offer.
I’ve often thought about Jesus and the death of his friend Lazarus in the past few weeks. When Jesus meets Lazarus’s sister and she took him to where his friend is buried, the Bible tells us that Jesus wept.
When I was younger, and had not often experienced the death of loved ones, I did not understand Jesus’s reaction.
Because, in just a few minutes, Jesus was going to bring Lazarus back to life. He had both the power to do this, and the knowledge that it would happen. So, why did he weep for Lazarus? Why did he weep with those who were hurting?
The apostle Paul shows us the truth behind Jesus’s grief when he tells us that believers in Christ should not grieve as those without hope do. Paul does not tell us not to grieve, instead he tells us to grieve with hope.
As in all things for believers, Jesus is the model for us. When faced with the death of his friend, he grieved. He did not look at those around him and ask why they were weeping. He did not ask them why they doubted his power. Instead He cried with them. He comforted them. He wept.
And then, Jesus showed us where we find our hope. He demonstrated his power and love by bringing Lazarus back to life. He displayed his power over both death and life. He gave His followers hope that death would be defeated, and then later, on the cross, He achieved that victory himself.
Mary Downey’s life was marked by her faith in that victory. And now, in her death, my grandmother’s faith has become sight. She is in the presence of our Lord, of her precious Jesus, and she is praising Him for all he has done.
For believers, we share in her hope. We know that one day, our faith will be made sight as well. One day we will see Mary again, in front of the throne of our Lord.