Summary: This is a eulogy for a woman who was an outstanding wife, mother, and worker in the church for the Lord. Her death was completely unexpected and left a huge hole in the church to be filled. The message seeks to bring some healing when death hits us unexpectedlyl
It is in moments like these that our faith is greatly tested. We are all gathered here because of the shining beacon that Denise Nevins was in all of our lives. The suddenness of her death cut through our hearts like a sharp knife slicing through butter. It happened so quickly, that for many of us, it is hard to believe that she is not going to walk into the living room or the kitchen or the fellowship hall, or this sanctuary any day now with a smile that always could lift your spirits.
We may all want to ask God, “why”, “why her”, “why now.” It is okay to ask the questions. But understand that in asking it, we somehow think, we have a better plan for Denise’s life and her future. We really want the opportunity to play God with Denise’life. But Denise would gladly tell us, “I already have a God, whom I trust, whom I love, whom I put my confidence in to complete the good work that He has begun in my life.”
You know, sometimes we can get so angry with God, that we must first forgive God, before we can move on in our lives. We feel as though an injustice has occurred and someone is at fault. We may focus on the twenty years we think Denise should have had left, rather than on the 71 amazing years that she lived impacting this world and our lives.
Can we just for a moment admit, “God we’re confused by all this. We really wanted more time with Denise. We forget that God too grieved over the death of Denise, because grieves over us all. God could not be Love without hurting when we hurt.
God created us and put us in a perfect world, yet we chose to do our own thing which allowed for sin and death to come into this world. It was God’s plan from the beginning that we would live without death, but somehow we believed the lie, that God wanted to keep us from having a good time in life. Ever since the fall of humankind, God has been trying to bring us back to our original place in Him.
I know that God cried, because His Son, Jesus cried after arriving too late for a friend who had died. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were all close friends of Jesus. Lazarus got sick and Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus to come quickly.
Lazarus died before Jesus could get there, as a matter of fact, Lazarus died before Jesus got the message to come quickly. When Jesus did arrive, he had to face an indictment from his dear friend Martha, when she said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Many of us can relate to Martha’s feelings, and have made the same charges, “Jesus, if you had of actually been here, Denise, my mother, my wife, by sister, my daughter, my friend or my mentor would not have died.” The amazing thing about Jesus, is that he understands our feelings. He doesn’t tell Martha, “you can’t talk to me like that after all I have done for you.” He simply says, “Your brother will rise again.” Those words are our hope.
As believers in Christ, we are never told not to grieve. We are told not to grieve as those who have no hope. Denise Nevins spent most of her life having hope in a God, that would never leave nor forsake her. Denise did not die alone, nor did her death catch God off guard. For the word of God tells us, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” So if her death occurred in His sight, that tells me that God was with her in that moment of transition from life to death and back to life again. God had a plan and God still has a plan for why he sent Denise into the world.
The first week of September of 1947 was filled with national and international events. The United States was preparing to launch a German V-2 rocket of the aircraft carrier Midway. It was going to be the first missile launched from a ship. Britain’s military court was sentencing 14 Gestapo agents to death for killing 50 airmen trying to escape a prison war camp.
Joseph Stalin was bragging about the 800th anniversary of Moscow and calling it a model city capital for other nations to follow. In the midst of all that, aren’t you glad that God still had time to offer a precious gift to the world through Martha and Henry Lee Butler in the form of a little black girl, born in Erie, Pa.