I went to a funeral yesterday, of an older cousin of my husband’s. And sitting in front of us, filling a couple pews, were about a dozen old men. And I found the backs of their balding, gray heads comforting.
They were the Casket Bearers and the Honorary Casket Bearers, aka Main Street Coffee Group. Many of them had hearing aids attached to their eye glasses, hiding behind their ears. They sat shoulder to shoulder in the pews in front of us, dressed up in their suits and sport coats.
And as the pastor spoke of their friend, I saw some of them nodding. And a few wiping at their eyes.
And the pastor shared that the man’s widow had said, “He ate dinner with his family at home Thursday night. And by Friday morning he was eating a meal with the rest of his family.” And I pictured the joyous reunion with his parents and his brother.
And then this morning my dear 93 year old mother-in-law told my husband she thinks she has lived too long. Her memory is so bad and she has a hard time doing anything and she feels useless.
And my husband told me that he told her, “God numbers your days. If you are still here, He still has a purpose for you. You can still sew. And you can still pray for people. That’s very important. Even if you can’t remember names, God knows. And even if you could do nothing… Think about your great-granddaughter (just months old) what can she do? But she is still precious and loved. And so are you.”
And I so loved that he said that.
And then my daughter came home from helping my parents. Mom is getting so difficult to get up and is struggling to walk and fights against standing up. She said Dad is fearing that Mama will have to go to a nursing home and they won’t take good care of her and that he’ll be left at home alone.
And he told Annie that he’s praying a tornado will just take them both at the same time. Because he doesn’t want to live without her. And he can’t stand the thought of being in bed without her cuddling up to his back. He loves her so much.
And I cried.
And I wondered why life is so hard. And I thought about all the people I’m praying for and all the difficult challenges friends are dealing with.
Life can be so painful. And heartbreaking.
I have no answers to the “why questions” in my mind. All I can do is echo King Jehoshaphat’s prayer, when he heard a vast army was coming against him, “…we have no power against this…that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles20:12, NKJV)
I don’t know what to do. But I can keep my eyes on Jesus. And I can listen for His promptings and do my best to follow them. I can pray for my hurting friends. I can serve Dad and Mama and try to give them moments of joy.
And I can know and trust that He is with us always, and we are not in this battle alone.
And I can’t help but remember the backs of the old men in front of me. And I wonder how many funerals they have been to. And how many friends and loved ones they’ve said good-bye to. And I think of them as soldiers marching on, showing me how to keep going. I picture them meeting up on Main Street for coffee. I wonder if a chair sits empty, or if the circle gets tighter…
But I somehow know they are there. Drinking their coffee. Remembering their old friend. Laughing over a joke while they wipe away a tear. Carrying on.
And I picture their backs, and their balding gray heads, as they pay respect to their friend. And it is comforting.