Friday, August 15, 2014

A Child of God, Born into Paradise

One of our elders and best friends, David Dunham, lost a precious granddaughter when the little girl his daughter was carrying passed away. Dave wrote and delivered this eulogy at the funeral service for Claire. With his permission I present his remarks here.

Introduction – Thank you all for being here. It humbles us to see so many have come to support our family, especially Allen and Leia, on this day of sadness.
Claire Alice Martin
She has changed our lives forever.
None of us well ever look at a baby the same way again. Every tiny one will tear at our hearts, reminding us of Claire. And it will cause us to love them even more. Because we know the hurt that is caused if the arms that cuddle that child are suddenly empty.
No matter how much love you have felt for every little one you know – you cherish them more now than ever before. Because you are now reminded of how precious and fragile each one is.
Every pregnant tummy you see demands a moment of prayer from you for that little one and its parents. Because you don’t ever want anyone else to feel the pain you are feeling.
And every child, born or unborn that is cared for carelessly causes you to wonder to yourself: don’t they know – don’t they know how delicate and priceless that life is?
Has there ever been a child more anticipated than this one? More longed for? More dreamed of? More looked forward to?
Celebrations have happened. Gifts have been given.  Plans have been made. There are gifts not yet given and we perplexed over what to do with them. And now tears flow. These all illustrate how we have all invited and accepted Claire into our lives and into our hearts.
The anticipation of meeting her has grown every day since the day we knew her life had begun. And now the introduction has not gone as we had all envisioned. And now we need blessings from God more than ever.
We have all said that a child is a gift from God. Now we realize that the gift is not God’s obligation but a true blessing and gift from The Almighty to us, His creation.
How is that one whom we have never met has become so dear to us? It is absolutely remarkable. The influence and impact she has had on our lives comes from above. This is the result and experience of love. Love is not to be explained. It is to be experienced. It is a gift from above.
Leia and Allen have been getting to know Claire for several months, now. She has been the focus of their lives, the love of their lives. A few others have been privileged to feel her movements. None of us has gazed into her eyes and felt the love that a baby has for those that love her.
To someone who doesn’t know any better, they might think that the love we have for her is not possible. We know better. We love Claire deeply and we always will. We have not yet met her, but we miss her.

David, the King of Israel, had a son that was very sick when he was born. David prayed earnestly for that son for seven days. The son died. I believe that we can learn a lot from how David reacted to the news.
He had been on the floor, weeping, praying and fasting, for seven days. His servants had observed this. They had tried to get him to eat; and he would not. They were fearful of how he would react when he got the news that the child was gone. They had seen how devastated the king was. They were afraid that he would be even worse when he got the news. What would he do to them? What would he do to himself? They were afraid he may do something desperate.
David could tell that the servants were nervous about something and he asked what was wrong. So, they gathered their courage and told him. David got up from the floor, cleaned himself up, and he asked for food, and he ate. The servants were startled and puzzled and finally one of them asked him, “Why are you acting like this”? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept. Now that he is gone you get up and eat.
David eventually replied, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me”.
And so it is with Claire, we will go to her.
The things that we dread and suffer through, days like today, Claire will never suffer through. We will not yet gaze into her eyes, but she will gaze into the eyes of Jesus.
Rev 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Can we find it within ourselves to rejoice in this? That little Claire will never know mourning or crying or pain? That she was born into paradise.
Let us take our ultimate comfort in the ultimate promise of God. And yet we mourn.
And mourn we should. We mourn together. As we should. And we want Claire back. We will go to her but she will not return to us.
As the tears flow, we are supporting each other. Loving each other. As Jesus loved Mary and Martha as they wept for their brother Lazarus. Jesus wept.
Jesus is described by Isaiah as “a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering”.
Today we weep. God above knows our pain. He never wanted it to be like this. And yet, sin is in the world and we all suffer because of it.
And, of course, we wonder why.
The wise teacher of Ecclesiastes said it this way:
Ecc 8:7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?
 8 No man has power over his spirit to retain it so no one has power over the day of his death.
Ecc 8:14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve.
Ecc 8:16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth-- his eyes not seeing sleep day or night--
 17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.
So, I implore you, do not spend too much time trying to figure it all out. It will only be, as the wise man says, “A chasing after the wind”. You can chase it all your life and never catch it. Nothing is gained for all of your effort.
Instead, let us heed the teacher: Ecc 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Job also set such a strong example of faith for us. Upon hearing the news that all of his children had been killed:
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship
 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
And further on he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
I am not saying that this is going to be easy, because it isn’t and it won’t be. And don’t expect that the sadness will quickly pass. Mourning takes time. And trust. And Faith.
As I said before, Claire has changed our lives forever. I am glad that I am changed because I will not regret having loved Claire. I have now seen love in a way that I couldn’t have predicted or understood without experiencing it myself. Maybe you feel the same way. I have never been through anything more difficult yet I will always treasure it. And God willing I will never experience it again.
God bless us all.
Cory Collins