Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Date I Can Never Forget

I will never forget this date – 26th November. It is burned into me and my soul forever.

The reason? On that Monday morning, my first wife Sheela, whom I  had married ”for better or worse” 27 years before, slipped into eternity at 8.20 am just as the sun was rising.  She was 50 years and 43 days old.  It was all a bit surreal – we stood there around her bed and realised she’d gone. The night before, we had sat and sung hymns of praise and wanted the Lord to take her.  But he didn’t – not then.  Another night of agonised suffering followed.

In the end it came suddenly.  All the months of suffering were over.  The pain, the stress, the anxiety, the loss of hair and the loss of dignity – morphine, syringe drivers, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, finally all over.   The silence was deafening but the peace was incredible.  Outside the traffic was building up – commuters stressing at another Monday morning, another week at work, oblivious to the drama in our house a few yards away.  I put my arms round my stunned children and gave thanks to God for their mother’s life.

I don’t know how I ever had the strength to do that. One verse of scripture hit me forcibly Philippians  1 v 23 “with Christ which is FAR better.   ”Not just better, but FAR better.  Funny – I’d never thought of it like that before but I took great comfort from it.  Sheela was in a FAR better place than she had ever been before and I knew that even if she could, she wouldn’t come back. Why would she? Leave a better place?  But I was angry too – angry that this had to happen at all.  And there is still a residue of anger within me about it. I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now, who I was angry with or why I was angry.  It was irrational then; it is irrational now.

Death by cancer is horrible. There is very little good to be said about it.  It spoils, ruins, destroys and hurts – really hurts.  But death is not the end. And this life is not all there is.  I knew that before that day and had given a good part of my life to preaching and teaching that very truth.  I knew it even more as I stood there with my broken heart, tears flowing.

Exactly one year later, on 26th November, I read in my daily devotions “Though you have made me see troubles many and bitter, you will restore life to me again” (Psalm 71 v20). He did – oh He really did and I thank Him for it every day!

26 November 2012

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