Yesterday was an extremely difficult day for me. About 5 or 10 minutes before church, I found out that my friend Dottie, who I've sung with on worship team for 10 years and who I've been friends with almost from that first day, had passed away in her sleep. It came as a shock to all of us who knew and loved her. She had just had surgery on Wednesday because she had excruciating back pain for years. The doctor said she should be feeling 90% better because he had fixed a couple of different things that would have been causing her pain. She had gone back to the hospital Saturday night because she was experiencing a lot of pain. The doctors gave her some more medicines and they seemed to be working so she went back home and went to sleep. She woke up in heaven. I don't know how we sang during both services, but God gave us the strength. I came home and that's when I realized what the date was. It was November 13. That's the same date that my big sister Wendy had passed away. Yesterday was 17 years since my sister went home to be with the Lord. 17 years ago, November 13 landed on a Sunday too. So now I have lost two people I love on Sunday, November 13.
I woke up around 5 am this morning and immediately I began to think of Dottie. Part of me said "It can't be true! She can't be gone!" while another part of me was so thankful that she was no longer experiencing any pain. Of course, I thought of how much pain all of us who knew and loved her are in. Normally, I do my devotions after I am all ready to start the day, but today I decided to do it before that. My devotional called for me to read Lamentations 3:22-33. I immediately started to cry as I read the passage, but I was also comforted by the words. The verses that stuck out to me the most were the first two and the last two. Verses 22 and 23 say "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Verses 32 and 33 say "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone."
I began to think of how unexpected Dottie's death was. No one was expecting to get that news. My sister's death was also just as unexpected. Who expects a 28 year old woman to die? She was in the hospital after giving birth. She was suppose to be going home that day. I had called her when I came home from church to tell her I had gone to the altar to pray for her babies. Her husband Joe had answered the phone and told me she wasn't feeling well and was trying to rest. He said she'd call me later, so I told him to have her call me at mom and dad's house since that's where I would be. When the phone rang at their house two hours later, I said "that's Wendy!" It wasn't. It was Joe, calling to tell us Wendy had died. Even though Dottie wasn't 28, her death caused just as much shock and sadness to all those who knew and loved her. Yet in both cases, God showed His compassion.
My sister had lost a few babies in her short life, and I don't know if she could have handled losing more. God knew that 2 of her 3 babies were going to die too, so He showed His compassion and called my sister home first. I don't know why, but I had this thought that God needed help with all the babies up in heaven, so He called my sister home to help Him because He knew how much she loved children. That thought has brought comfort to me and others who later experienced the loss of a baby or young child. I was able to share that "My sister is taking care of your child until you get there." She's also taking care of 3 of my children until I get there and can hold them.
Dottie had a zest for life. She loved to laugh. I'm sure heaven there is a lot more laughter in heaven now that Dottie is there! One of the first thoughts I had was "She's not 90% better (like the doctor had said she'd be after her surgery). She's 100% better!" Maybe the doctor was wrong and she wasn't going to feel 90% better. Maybe the pain was still going to be bad and God knew that, so He showed His compassion by calling her home so that she didn't have to deal with any more pain. I don't know that for sure of course, but it brought me comfort to be reminded that God promised in Lamentations 3:32 that "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love."
I know that one day I will see Wendy again. I still miss her and will until the day I die, but I know she is in heaven with her Lord and she will be there to meet me when I enter those pearly gates. I also know that I will see Dottie again, as she too had accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. I will get to hear her laugh again one day and I'll get to sing with her again too. I'm sure she'll be one of those who meets me when I get there. I will never forget either of them while I am still here on earth. Even though I am sad and will cry because I miss them, I know God will give me peace and I am so thankful for His compassion that He shows.