A hard funeral this week—one of the hardest I ever attended. A Spiderman cap graced the tiny coffin. It doesn’t take a very big box to hold a three-year-old. His dad’s auto shop was closed for the day. I heard that the employees of the only floral shop in town were in tears as they made the arrangements. The funeral home gave the parents a throw with a picture of little Joseph on it in his Spidey hat. An uncle threw his arms around the throw as if he could still embrace the child it represented.
The church was packed beyond what I suspect the fire marshal would have approved. We sang a beautiful arrangement of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and another of “Jesus Loves Me” intermingled with Horatio Spafford's hymn (written at the time of his own children's deaths) It is Well with My Soul.” That last started quietly, only a soloist singing. The voices of the congregation joined slowly, tentatively, but soared with determined strength in the final lines of the second verse:
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul!
And again at the end:
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
The preacher talked about little Joseph entering heaven as a hero having successfully completed his three-year mission to show the image of God on earth. I picture a tiny boy in his red Spiderman cap coming up out of a dark tunnel like an athlete emerging into the light of the stadium to the cheers of the crowd. How marvelous heaven must be! Nevertheless, I think he’d probably rather be holding his daddy’s hand. But then Jesus sweeps him up in his arms. Joseph loves Jesus. He loves to sing songs about him and hear Bible stories. Now he throws his arm around Jesus’ neck and all the fear of this new experience disappears. Jesus holds Joseph close and carries him around, pointing out the sights of heaven like his earthy dad might carry him around Disney World or the Minnesota State Fair (which is almost as good as Disney World when you are three.)
Joseph loved when the Newsboys “God’s Not Dead” came on the radio. I guess he and his dad always sang along. It was played at the end of the service. I could picture my grandkids, jumping around, enjoying the music, and absorbing a message we never expect a child to need: Let love explode and bring the dead to life … God’s not dead; he is surely alive … Let hope arise and make the darkness hide.
Someday Joseph will be waiting excitedly with Jesus to welcome his big sister, his parents, others who loved him. The tragedy of last weekend’s accident will have long since faded to insignificance in his joy at being with Jesus. That’s hard for us to wrap our minds around on a dark drippy day in October with the pain still so raw. Lord, help us to focus on the light of your presence in these dark days and never let go of your hand.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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