Excerpt from funeral message based on Psalm 23, part 3.
He leads us beside the still waters.
He also leads us through dark valleys. For mom this was the loss of loved ones, both physically and emotionally. Sacrifice and suffering are our lot, and we are not alone. But the truth is, we are led there.
This is a truth we often miss and seldom understand. Our shepherd is with us in these dark times, but he also led us there. He glorifies himself in our pain. We minister to others through our suffering, and because of it.
Dad once wrote a book about this, which the publisher called The Brighter Side. But I liked dad’s original title better. He called it the Blessings of Affliction. In this study of 2 Corinthians, dad says we cannot know the comfort of God if we do not suffer, nor can we comfort others. He says how we suffer is part of our heritage. And he points to 2 Corinthians 1:9 where Paul tells us “we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”
We can look at mom’s life as a widow with many diseases, with all the emotional distresses she experienced and we can know that she was led there, and sustained there, by that great Shepherd of the flock, Christ himself. In leading her there, and in leading us there, we know the comfort of God and reveal the glory of God.
And yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for he is with me; his rod and his staff, they comfort me.
Thanks be to God.
I wish I could tell you mom faced this last great valley without fear, but I can’t. She grieved her own death in her own way and she worried about her children and her grandchildren, all of them. But she did so with a measure of grace and courage. She asked everyone who came in the room if they knew Jesus, and the last day she spoke at all she thanked those who turned her and bathed her, acts of simple faith in a faithful shepherd who led her beside still waters and through dark valleys.
And today she sits at the table he has prepared for her. What a joy and consolation.