Despite the slings and arrows from modern day Pharisees, God is in control and he takes care of his people. There is a reason for things that happen. We, as humans, don’t always understand why but for those who trust in God there is hope for the future.
I was reminded of this Saturday at the funeral for a dearly beloved woman who was for a time a member of the homeless community in the area of the public library in Levittown, PA. Although friends and family were saddened by the woman’s death, people of faith accepted it as part of God’s plan.
At the funeral, the pastor comforted those gathered by reading and applying the 23rd Psalm:
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
The pastor pointed out that the Lord is a God who is there for you when you are into the valleys, when you are not on the mountaintop. He, as he did for the psalmist King David, reaches down and rescues sinners when we are in the pit.
Faith is what protects us from the fear of the unknown.
God uses his children to advance his glorious kingdom, and during the woman’s bout with cancer, she started getting better despite the doctors thinking that there would be a different outcome. It was a miracle that God used to send a message to others. But later it was the Lord’s time to take her home.
God controls the horizontal; God controls the vertical. His ways aren’t our ways. We must live by faith. God is working in the background and we must just trust in him, as he has our best interests at heart.
At the funeral, I was reminded that we can be redeemed by Jesus and transformed into a new creature, becoming more like Jesus.
Before leaving for the funeral, I got riled up after learning the The Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) welched on their promise to take the homeless to see their friend off, crying that it would be too far for them. Contributions for the friend who was a part of the homeless community are being sent in her name to AHTN.
On top of that, after I went on a brief diatribe at the Levittown Public Library about how politicians tout that they help the homeless but don’t really care, and called out a particular politician, Pat, the head librarian, told me to quiet down, although she’s said nothing to people who talked volumes louder and longer that I did.
I also spoke out against the gross injustice that was done to a homeless woman with COPD who got kicked out of the WIC office in Levittown during business hours where she came to warm up on a cold winter’s day. She was told given a lame excuse.
The problem, evidently, was that Pat did not like what I had to say. The emperor didn’t want to be told he needs a new set of clothes. It was a case of “sit down and shut up.”
The tenor of the funeral quelled my anger, righteous as it may have been, and I got a fresh perspective on life and moved on.
The woman recently laid to rest was a homemaker, a stay at home mom but later in life became homeless.
Staying at home and taking care of children is a noble, selfless thing. I once met a woman who said that when she was single, after she worked her nine-to-five, she was on her own time. If she was tired, she could rest — she was in control of her schedule. But when she got married and had a family, she was on call 24/7. In the evening, after working all day, she would sit down to rest, only to have to get up almost as soon as she sat down. “People always want something”, she said.
As a member of the homeless community in lower Bucks County, PA, the woman continued serving others. She looked out for her fellow homeless, making sure that they had what they need to survive.
The pastor said that we have a reason for being on the earth — to influence others and show them love. We pass on the principles we hold dear to others.
For the Christian, death is not the end. It is a final rest after completing our mission on earth.
Although our dear sister will be sorely missed, we have comfort in that it is God’s will and that the Christian reaction is a witness to the world.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
— 1st Thessalonians 4:13-14
A funeral is a time for the living to soul search — to think about who they are and how they act — what they will be remembered for. I for one, would not, as one druggie in the homeless community bragged, want to be remembered as “the King of the Panhandlers.” Or like another druggie who’s known for ripping off sick old ladies.
It was a sobering gathering. It makes me think of what will be my legacy.
We should not waste our time on earth, but should use it to do good. Shakespeare laid this idea on us in one of his sonnets:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73)
“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.”
Life is precious, people have value. Despite our sister’s circumstances, she showed love towards others. Others did the same for her and passed in on. On one occasion, when she was saddened and was crying in the library, a Christian woman went right to her to comfort her and help resolve the problem, which she did.
Loving and helping one another is why we are here. As the 60s popular song goes we need to “try to love one another right now.” We cannot do this on our own, but can do so if we tap into God’s Word. Loving one another particularly applies to the homeless community.