911) An Encouraging Word

From The Lutheran Standard, June 5, 1979, page 29; author’s name withheld.

A man died at the age of 85.  He was one of those old and steady saints of the church.  He had been a devoted husband, a good father, a beloved man in congregation and community, a school janitor, and a fellow with a twinkle in his eyes, a smile on his face, and a ready sense of humor.  

Two weeks before he died, he received a letter from Jack, his son-in-law.  The letter is a beautiful statement of love and concern.  It can remind us to take the time to say thank you to those whom we love dearly and through whom we have been blessed.

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Dear Dad,

     I prayed for you today and thanked God for all the good years of life he has given to you, as well as for all the blessings that have come into my life through you.

     I thank you for Judy, your daughter and my wife.  Thank you for teaching her tender, committed love.  Thank you for letting go of her when the time came for her to leave father and mother and cleave to her husband.  Thank you for being a good father-in-law to me and a good husband to your wife.  Because of you, my life with Judy has been richer and happier.

     I also thank you for being a good grandfather– for taking time to love our children, for teasing them and letting them tease you, and for showing them some of the joy and wisdom that comes with age.

     I am happy that Judy can be near you now, and help care for you.  It is a reminder that when she was young you cared for her.

     God has given life some beautiful cycles and rhythms.  Our end is much like our beginning.  We brought nothing into the world; we shall take nothing out.  We came into the world as helpless creatures; we shall go out helpless.

     Throughout your years on this earth, you have not possessed much of the world’s goods.  But you have been rich with love, given and received.  God wants you to be richer still.  

     As death draws near, know that its power to hurt and destroy has been taken away because Christ our Lord entered into death for us.  Of course you will feel loss and grief over what is left behind.  But think also of what lies ahead– a new life in the presence of God, a life without pain and tears.

     Now, while you still suffer pain and shed tears, may you be encouraged by the hope of God’s new day.  Absolutely nothing, says the Bible, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

     When you enter the valley of the shadow of death, I want you to know that you are loved.

Your son by marriage, 

Jack

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I Thessalonians 5:11  —  Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:14b  —  …Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

I Thessalonians 3:9  —  How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

II Corinthians 1:3-4  —   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

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PRAYER OF AN OLD WOMAN:

Lord, thank you that in your love you have taken from me all earthly riches, and that you now clothe and feed me through the kindness of others.  Lord, thank you that since you have taken from me my sight, you serve me now with the eyes of others.  Lord, thank you that since you have taken away the power of my hands, you serve me through the hands of others.  Lord, I pray for them.  Reward them with your heavenly love, that they may faithfully serve and please you until they reach their happy end.  Amen.

–Mechthild of Magdeburg  (1210-1297)