Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 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.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
I’ve lost count of the number of Shakespeare festivals and other productions we attended together over the years, but they were one of the highlights of our friendship—along with rich conversations about theology, art, and literature well into the night (and sometimes well past midnight). The Braveheart Highland Pub in Hellertown was a favorite pre-show dining spot of ours.
In the final ten months of her life, Sara’s mental illness plummeted faster than I had ever seen in anyone else her age. No amount of counseling, encouragement, therapy, medication, prayer, or hospitalization could help. And she received the best available in each case, albeit too late. It wasn’t merely depression that took her from us but schizoaffective disorder in all its ugliness. It was a heartbreaking tragedy we watched unfold before our very eyes.
Yet we are persuaded that God met that tragedy with his abounding grace. We who gathered to discuss her services (and the difficult ministry to those who remain behind to deal with deep grief) concurred that nothing could separate her from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). Her love for the Lord was genuine and not undermined at all by her aggressive illness. Indeed, the Lord is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). He is near to us, too.
Best of all, when you know Christ by faith as your Lord and Savior, what puts you in the grave can’t keep you in the grave.
So, in that spirit, I bid farewell in hope:
“Goodnight sweet prince[ess],
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Hamlet, Act V, Scene 2