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Today there is a funeral at our church, for a woman who was beloved in our community.  She wasn’t a member, nor did she go to church much.  We got to know her because she groomed our dog.  She had cancer, and was very sick for a long while.  We actually learned that she had passed away in a strange, God-ordained way.  We had gone to the hardware store to look at wallpaper borders.  I had decided on Friday to start tearing out the paneling and wallpaper in our kitchen, so Saturday we had to do some supply shopping.  The woman who died – her son’s fiance works in this hardware store, and she got a phone call letting her know about the death.  We could hear someone crying in the front of the store, so my husband, ever the pastor, went to investigate.  We ended up taking the girl home to be with the family.  Her boss was surprised by the fact that we just happened to be there, but Travis said, “God puts us where he needs us.”  This girl has been through a lot in the last year – in December, her best friend died (that was the last big funeral at our church).  She got engaged at Christmas, and her fiance’s mom was told she had two weeks to live back in May.  Well, she hung around until October 25.

While I know the family and her friends are very sad to lose her, I can’t help but be thankful for her now that she is in heaven.  We know that she had faith, even though she didn’t have a church home.  Sometimes people can be hurt by the church, which has very human elements to it.  She has no more pain, no more sorrow, no more hurt.  She is in the arms of Jesus, which is a very good place to be.  It’s hard for us who are left behind to really understand that death for a Christian is a good thing.  It makes me think of the song “Homesick” by Mercy Me:

You’re in a better place I’ve heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you
But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

Help me Lord, ’cause I don’t understand Your ways
The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know
But even if You showed me, the hurt would be the same
‘Cause I’m still here, so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is, then I’m out of place
Lord won’t You give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now

In Christ there are no goodbyes, and in Christ there is no end
So I’ll hold on to Jesus with all that I have to see you again, to see you again