The Joyous Day my Mother Died

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My mother died January 4th. Although she was 94 years old, she had not experienced a prolonged and painful illness. The last couple of years she was suffering from some dementia but she always immediately recognized loved ones. About two weeks before she died she developed a severe infection which she could not battle.

Before she died, I flew back to the Midwest and had the opportunity to spend about five days sitting at her bedside. She was conscious the first few days so I could reassure her not only of her family’s love but especially of her Savior’s love. Even though she was weakened and confused, she brightened up when I read Scripture to her. My daughter and daughter-in-law who sang hymns with her were amazed that she would be whispering the words of the hymns by memory – even when they got to the later verses.

The last couple of days before I had to fly home she was no longer conscious. Therefore every 15 minutes or so I would check to make sure she was still breathing. One time while I was doing that the hospice nurse came in and was a little surprised that I was doing that. She was concerned that it might be difficult for me to be the one who would discover that she had died. I responded by telling her that if I discovered my mother no longer breathing, I would pump my fist and start rejoicing because then all her problems and pain would be gone. Then she would be in God’s glorious presence enjoying eternal and perfect bliss.

That incident got me thinking about the difference between being happy and joyous. I can’t say that I was happy that my mother died. After all, death, as the Bible states, is the final enemy. Even Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. There is no doubt that death brings the pain of separation. BUT the joy I experienced knowing that my mother is with the Lord was like a tidal wave overwhelming every other emotion. No more problems! No more pain or weakness! No more frustrations about not remembering things! No more temptations and sin! All that replaced by being in the Lord’s glorious presence living in the frictionless society of angels and the millions of believers who had died before her. How can I not be filled with joy?

And it also filled me with incredible gratitude to God. He made this all possible. The Father sacrificed his Son for her. Jesus washed her clean in his blood. He covered her with his own robe of righteousness. The Holy Spirit kept stoking her faith right up to the day she died. Her glorious eternal life in heaven was God’s gift to her.

Yes, the day my mother died was one of the most joyous days of my life. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). Because she was covered with Jesus’ righteousness, she was a saint. Because of that, God gave her an incredible welcome -because her death was precious to him.

May all glory and honor be his.