The large auditorium was packed with people. Voices were hushed and tears were shed. As a newlywed wife and unfamiliar with the ones we had come to see, I stayed close beside my husband as we approached the front of the church where each visitor paused and then solemnly proceeded.
I have never forgotten the mother and child I saw so still and pale in that casket. Such a perfectly formed infant, seemingly safe in the arms of the woman who had so anticipated his arrival. I myself knew that anticipation and the crushing disappointment of infertility that had preceded it. I could not wrap my mind around the loss this picture represented, yet I knew - I knew - that indeed that infant and his mother were safe, both in the arms of Jesus.
What I didn't know was how this could be part of His plan.
That morning, a choir of young people sang. Students from the Christian school where both the widowed husband and wife had taught, this moment would be indelibly impressed on their hearts even more deeply than on mine. They sang songs I knew and believed, yet which never were put to a harder test:
I know God makes no mistakes // He leads in every step I take // Along the way that's leading me to Home // Though at times my heart would break // There's a purpose in every change He makes // That others would see my life and know // That God makes no mistakes
God is too wise to be mistaken // God is too good to be unkind // So when you don't understand // When don't you see His plan // When you can't trace His hand // Trust His heart
This week, I have felt again the not knowing. It isn't doubt that He is good, nor that He will bring good even from tragedy. It is just that - a not knowing - "Why?" Two Jesus-loving, family-loving mothers were taken home suddenly and soon. Both had inspired countless people through their example of joy in the Lord and overcoming challenges. One had not allowed even a degenerative disease to keep her from the mission field. The other had opened her home and heart to children with many medical needs. Each had beautiful families representing Heaven where people of "every tribe, and tongue and nation" will worship together. One left behind a loving husband and four young adult children; the other, a devoted husband and fifteen children under the age of 18.
In a tribute written by a friend to one of these women, I was reminded that "we are all here for only a short time - make your days count!" Though I don't know why some lives seem to be cut short when they have so much yet to offer, I do know that I am to offer what I have while I can. I want to leave a legacy for Christ as they have done. May He help me to greater boldness, faithfulness and love and may my life be a testimony to His grace!
Please continue to pray for the families of Karen Coppola and Jenny Groothuis. They will be greatly missed by so many.