January 30, 2012
Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You. Psalms 139:7-12
Last October, Angeline O'Grady's husband Brian died from cancer.
On the first of November, O'Grady undertook a labor of love by traveling to England to scatter his ashes in Hull, the city where he grew up.
She was surprised when the federal security folk at the airport told her she couldn't take the boxed ashes on board with her. Instead of carrying the ashes, she was told to put them into her checked luggage.
O'Grady did as she was told, adding a sticker to her case which read "Fragile."
The flight went well, the luggage was recovered, and O'Grady went to her sister-in-law's home. It was there she found out her husband's ashes had disappeared.
Everything was in her suitcase -- but the ashes.
Someone, somewhere had gone into her suitcase and stolen a box filled with gray ashes.
O'Grady immediately called the airport and had them begin a search. Now, months later, her husband's remains are still missing.
There's little doubt that most of our Daily Devotion readers can empathize with this wife, who has been frustrated in fulfilling a final request to her husband. We can understand how she keeps wondering why a person would do such a thing. We are saddened at the possibility of an individual who is looking for closure and may never find it.
For quite some time I wondered, if I were this lady's pastor, how would I comfort her?
Eventually, I realized she can be comforted by the same hope Jesus gives to all who mourn those who die with faith in Him.
• There is the comfort which says her husband was not in that stolen box. When Brian breathed his last in this world, Jesus took him to the next.
• There is the comfort which says because of the Savior's sacrifice it is not necessary to have final closure. In the Christ there will be an unending reunion for all who believe.
• There is the comfort which says the Lord knows where her husband is. As the Psalmist points out: the Lord has always known where her husband was. Indeed, there is no place any person can go which will enable him to escape the Creator's caring eye.
• Finally, there is the comfort which says her husband is and always will be with his Savior.
And to those who say, "That's not enough." I can only reply on the contrary -- when death comes-- the comfort the crucified and risen Christ alone can give is everything.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may we never minimize the wonderful work of the Savior who alone can change the day of mourning into an eternity of joy. This I pray in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries