HOUSMAIL HM#125 I AM COMFORTED.                                                                                       25 April 2006

My wife is dying. The mother of my six wonderful daughters is dying. God is taking back the greatest gift He ever gave me. Under His guidance we met and fell in love 56 years ago, when we were both only 17. We married at 21. She has been my wife, faithful companion, best friend, and unfailing help for the last 52 years. For all of that time we have been totally dependent on each other. Now, it is coming to an end. In a few weeks, or at the most, in a few months, she will be gone.

People have asked me how I feel, and how I am coping with the emotions of this time. A few understand and are truly supportive. Others seem to expect that I should be some sort of emotional mess. And of course there have been a few “Job's Comforters” who seem to want to load me with a whole lot of psychological baggage which they think are “normal” reactions for the grieving. For all of you, this is the GOOD NEWS.

Praise God! I have discovered something wonderful! I am NOT destroyed. Instead, I am comforted .

Please don't misunderstand me! I am not without feelings. I do have emotions – but they are NOT uncontrollable! They do not overwhelm me. It has not been easy, but I have been in Gethsemane with Jesus where I have learned new things about the fruit of the Holy Spirit called “self control”. He has taught me how to choose nothing less than ALL the will of God, and to “drink the cup”. Gethsemane used to be just another Gospel story. Now it is an experience which draws me closer to God. If we truly BELIEVE, we cannot be defeated or destroyed by emotions which others find hard to deal with. Instead there is victory! It is a promise from God for those who are led by His Spirit.

It seems appropriate to tell you all something about the wonderful promises of God for His children at times like this. I am experiencing them in ways which I would never have thought possible when I was a lot younger. God's children all have to learn this as part of our growth to Christian maturity. It is part of the grace we have received!

In Ezekiel 24:15-18 there is a brief story about the death of Ezekiel's wife. One night God told Ezekiel that his wife was going to die suddenly, and soon, and that when it happened he was not to mourn or even weep. She died the next night. The following morning, with his wife dead only a few hours, Ezekiel did as he was commanded and preached to the people again - without tears or mourning.

I am so glad that I am not Ezekiel! I don't think I could do that. Could you? I confess freely that I have shed many tears already. And I expect to shed more. I will miss her terribly. I am going to be VERY lonely. But I will not be alone ! God will be with me. He will never leave nor forsake me. (Heb 13:5)

God is with me now as I walk through the “valley of the shadow” with Doreen. (Psalm 23:4) He will continue to be with me when it happens. He comforts me . That is His promise - and that is what I experience, day by day, hour by hour. I do not sorrow as others do. I am comforted by His continual presence with me. I am comforted by His promise that NOTHING can separate myself and Doreen from His love. I am comforted by His promise that ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love Him. I am sustained by all of that as I watch my wife dying. Of course it isn't always easy. But it is NEVER too hard! I cannot help her by looking for answers which fight against the will of God. I am giving her the very best I can offer by entrusting her completely to God's continuing care. Her life is completely in God's hands. I will not attempt to interfere with that. If there was anything at all better that she needed He would give it. But it is clear that this is the way He has chosen for her to walk, and I am left believing that there is nothing better possible for her now than to be in God's hands in exactly the situation we are facing.

I am told that many people get angry at times like this – even angry with God! Am I angry with God? NEVER! How could I ever be angry with the God who loves me, and my wife, enough to give His Son for us? That gift is the ultimate proof that He will give us EVERYTHING else we need, and that He will get things exactly right. NOTHING – not even this terminal sickness – can ever separate us from His love. I believe it - and I am comforted. (Rom 8:28-39)

I am told that many people become emotionally distraught at times like this. Am I an emotional mess? By the grace of God NEVER! Yes, of course there are emotions, but for those who trust in God they can never become overwhelming. There is victory – NOT defeat! When my mind is stayed on God, He keeps me in perfect peace. I am comforted. (Isaiah 26:3)

Finally, I believe in the Resurrection! I will see her again! And when I do she will have her perfect immortal resurrection body, delivered at last from this suffering which is the final token of her present mortality. I am greatly comforted by that. (1 Thess 4:13-18)