Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sermon for the Funeral of Eileen "Doris" Daigle

Thy Will Be Done
Matthew 6:10b

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text is Matthew chapter six, verse 10b: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

It is never easy to accept being separated from those we love whom the Lord has called to rest from the labors of this life. Sometimes it is made easier by the circumstances surrounding the final days, months or years of their life. Certainly in the midst of your grief you can feel some relief that Doris no longer struggles with the ravages of cancer. Nevertheless, while there may be some measure of relief, there is also grief and pain and sorrow.

The events that led us to where we are today were not unexpected. Pastor Lofthus, who had been visiting with Doris, knew that she was not likely to be in this world much longer. He made preparations in case things would transpire as they did. He spoke with me before he left town to make sure someone would be available to bring the Word of comfort to you if he hadn’t gotten back. More important than that, however, he visited with Doris and prayed with her. He shared the Word with her, comforting her and reminding her of the truth that Jesus died to give her eternal life. And he prayed with her the very words which we just heard, words from the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done.”

If it were up to us, Doris would have regained some measure of health and would have lived to enjoy the company of her family and friends. This was not to be. This was certainly not the way we wanted things to turn out. However, you can be comforted that the life and death of Doris Daigle happened exactly as it was meant to happen. We can be confident and sure of that. The prayer that Pastor Lofthus and Doris prayed together was answered resoundingly. They prayed, “Thy will be done.” And everything happened exactly as the Lord willed it to happen.

Why would God desire that our beloved sister in the faith should die? That question is no easier to answer than the question of why He would allow her to suffer as long as she did. It is not because He is a cruel God. It is not because He desires the death of His children. We can make some guesses. After all, we know that she was suffering from terminal cancer. Surely a loving God wouldn’t want to unnecessarily extend her suffering. But the truth is, no one can fully know the mind of God. No matter how much faith we have, no matter how much education we might have concerning God’s Word, nobody can know the full counsel of God. As Paul teaches us in the First Letter to the Corinthians, “The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men.”

That’s why our Lord Jesus Christ would have you call upon the Father and say, “Thy will be done.” The great joy of that prayer is that you don’t have to understand the will of God. You can bring your petitions before the Lord. You know that He already understands what you need and want, and knows and understands these things even better than you can yourselves. You bring those petitions before the Lord, and you leave them in His hands, knowing that He will provide for you whatever is right for you, whatever is best, whatever will answer your prayer in the most beneficial manner. His will shall be done and is done; and whatever that means, you can trust that God has answered your prayer exactly as it should be answered. For some, that might be a miraculous cure. For some, it might be a temporary respite.

And for Doris, that meant that it was the Lord’s will that she should be washed in the waters of Holy Baptism, where God made her His own child. It meant that it was God’s will that she be a sweet-natured, generous, artistic bundle of energy. It meant that it was God’s will that she should meet Warren during World War II, and that they should be married in 1947 and spend 61 wonderful years together. It meant that it was God’s will that she should have two daughters whom she would raise together with Warren. And it meant that this was exactly the right time for the Lord to call her home to Himself.

When I spoke with Denise the other day, she said something that struck me. She was telling me about how she talked with her mother, and in the course of the conversation between them they determined that “Sometimes we reach for other things than what we have. Instead of that, we need to be patient and wait on the Lord.” In the midst of the suffering Doris endured, and in the midst of the grief that Denise bore as she spoke to me, they understood this profound truth. Thousands of years earlier, our brother, the psalmist David, understood this same truth. He prayed, “Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.”

This is not an easy prayer, even in the best of circumstances. It’s never easy to set aside your own will and wait for the Lord to show you the plans He has for you. Nevertheless, it is the best path, the narrow way, for God will answer your prayers with answers that are far better than anything you can ask or imagine. For Doris, the answer that God gave is a rest in His arms that will never end. For you, while you wait for that same eventual answer, He will bless you according to His gracious good will—with the means to support yourselves, with the love of family and friends, and with the comfort that you need and desire in your grief.

God grant you faith to pray, “Thy will be done.” For when you pray that prayer, you know He will answer graciously. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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