When we walked into church the morning of Markus’ funeral we felt surrounded by love. There was something truly beautiful about being in the presence of fellow believers as they sang about our only comfort in life and in death. What we experienced at the funeral service on Friday was something of what the preacher was talking about when he says in Ecclesiastes, “It is better to go to the house of mourning then to go to the house of this feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.”
We miss Markus terribly and rarely an hour goes by where we don’t think about him, even at times expressing how this must be a dream that will be over soon, and Markus will come bounding up the stairs again. But then we remind ourselves that he won’t, that he is not coming back. The pain of loss will be felt for the rest of our lives. Yet we cling to the everlasting promises of God, the promises that were so powerfully worked into the message from Pastor Doug at Markus’ funeral, that whoever believes in Jesus, though he die, yet shall he live.
After 15 months of wrestling with the uncomfortable work of God in allowing Markus to get cancer, and the cancer to take his life, there are a few themes we wish to share. These will be our final reflections on our journey with Markus. In time it is our plan to have this blog captured in book form so that we will forever be able to cherish the memories of Markus’ cancer journey.
We feel pruned. Submitting to the uncomfortable work of God is humbling and difficult. On the morning after Markus’ death Micah commented on how it feels like we were being pruned. He was referencing John 15 where Jesus says, “Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” We don’t know what God has in store for our family, but we praise Him that through our suffering we have been drawn into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Jesus. For that we praise the Lord and as hard as it is, we will continue (in the power of the Spirit) to welcome his uncomfortable work.
We have hope. The theme of Pastor Doug’s funeral message was, “Hope remains even after death arrives.” The only way we can begin to process what has all happened is because of our gospel hope in Jesus, the Son of God who came into the world to save sinners. Believing in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, and it is on the work of Jesus that we are able to come before God each day and plead with him for mercy. There is so much to learn about hope, the real hope. We are thankful that God has brought into focus for us the eternal perspective we need to have as we approach each day.
Your prayers are powerful. James says that “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” For this entire journey we have felt your prayers. Many of you would share with us that you felt helpless and didn’t know what to do except to pray. Let it be known that this was the most important and powerful thing you could do! Whether you told us that you were praying, or you just quietly petitioned God, He heard your prayers, and they were like a shroud of protection and care around our family this entire time.
We are so thankful. There are so many people who have come alongside us in this journey that we could not possibly thank them all. Suffice it to say, we are so very thankful to our family, friends who stepped up even though it was hard, and people who have become better friends through this suffering. You know who you are, and we will forever cherish your love and support. We also want to acknowledge Markus’ buddies who stuck with him to the end. Lincoln, Marcus, Eric, Levi, James and Cason, at the beginning of this journey, and many times along the way, we spoke about how it was our prayer that when you look back twenty years from now we want you to be able to remember an experience that brought you closer to God. We praise the Lord for the friendship you guys had with Markus, even though the road was hard. We pray that you will continue to grow closer in your relationship with Jesus as you begin to move forward.
We still need your prayers. The morning after Markus went to be with Jesus it hit us pretty hard that it was the first day in over 15 months that we didn’t have to pray for Markus. He was in safely in the arms of Jesus and praying for him is no longer necessary. Even though God did not heal him for more time here on earth, we thank you for all the prayers you sent up for Markus. God heard your prayers for mercy, protection, and strong faith right to the end. The final prayer request we leave you with is that you continue to remember our family in prayer. Please pray that God would help us to grieve well, and that the pain of Markus’ loss would be soothed by the ointment of our hope in the Good Shepherd Jesus, the Saviour of all those who believe in Him.
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.