Summary: A contemplation of perseverance delivered to honour a woman who suffered for many years.

“‘If the righteous is scarcely saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” [1]

Heroes and heroines are seldom as we imagine they should be. In our minds, heroines and heroes are bigger than life—bold and exciting, slaying dragons and rescuing imperiled people. In reality, our heroes and heroines are usually reserved, speaking with a wry wit to encourage those who are discouraged and about to quit struggling against the terrors that threaten. It is often long after the fact that we realise how we were blessed to have stood in the presence of great women and great men.

Edith Girard was a quiet heroine. I don’t mean that she never spoke; I do mean that she lived her life with dignity and courage. Fighting a terrible, relentless foe, her world shrunk to the few rooms in her modest home, her throne a recliner in front of her laptop and her window into life a big screen television. These latter items gave her the ability to look outward onto a world that was no longer readily accessible. If she left the confines of her home, it was because Aime tenderly carried her to his truck and escorted her to some event. Her time away from the oxygenator’s umbilical cord was of necessity brief; and then she was forced to return.

You might imagine that confined for such a long time to her home, Edith was without influence; however, you would be wrong. Though prime ministers and premiers neither visited Edith nor were familiar with her name, those who knew Edith were encouraged by her cheery greetings and delighted by her rapier wit. She laughed easily and she wasn’t given to complaining; you didn’t hear whining when you visited with Edith. She smiled and laughed and lifted the spirit of those who visited with her in her living room.

However, at last she grew weary—who among us would not have been exhausted by the relentless foe that was robbing her of strength and life? The last extended visit I had with Edith, I encouraged her to place her membership in the congregation. “What’s the point?” was her abrupt response. We spoke of the encouragement she was to others and the teaching of Scripture. She threw another curve when she questioned her faith. I had never heard Edith express her doubts in such a pointed fashion. As we talked, it became apparent that she was expressing her weariness; she had a marvellous testimony of God’s grace. Years earlier, while still a girl, Edith had exercised her faith in the Risen Son of God. She was confident that God had received her; but the weariness of her struggle created questions with which she grappled. Somewhat as was true when John the Baptist, in his exhaustion had sent to ask of the One whom he had proclaimed, “Are you the One who is to come, or shall we look for another” [LUKE 7:20]? So, our sister struggled with the deep questions of why God allows His saints to suffer.

As we talked that particular afternoon, I began thinking of Peter’s words, little realising that I would be referring to them so soon. Those who did not visit with Edith in those final days may not have realised the magnitude of her struggles. Physically, the disease that ravaged her lungs left her exhausted. Emotionally, the toll grew, sapping confidence. Eventually, the physical and emotional toll exacted a spiritual toll, and our sister sought comfort through confirmation that God loved her. That comfort is found only through the Word of the Lord.

Perhaps you have asked precisely such a question. Why should someone who has faith in the Son of God struggle? And why should someone who has walked in the presence of the Son of God be compelled to grapple with such deep questions as this life draws to a conclusion. Peter asks the question,

“‘If the righteous is scarcely saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’

He is challenging his readers to consider the difficulties of life. In light of the Apostle’s query, each one sharing the service must be challenged to determine how he or she is prepared to answer Peter’s question. If a righteous woman struggles for assurance that God loves her despite seizing the promises of God, what shall one say that has only religion? One who attends church as a duty, or who attends worship when it is convenient, how shall that person answer the question. For it is certain that we shall each face the True and Living God. It is not a question of “if”; it is a question of “when.”

I am fully aware that Peter is speaking specifically about the pain that accompanies opposition and assault because one is a Christian; however, the context is sufficiently broad to include the struggles of those who believe. In the broadest sense, we ask, “Why must believers struggle when a loving God has given them life and the promise of an eternal home?” While I could never tell you why one who is a Christian suffers, I am fully persuaded that we do know what God is doing when His child suffers, for God has told us.

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Russ Hale

commented on May 21, 2015

I found this to be a very helpful message using a text I had not seen used before for a funeral/memorial service. Powerful ending that forces a decision!

Michael Stark

commented on Jun 2, 2015

Thank you for your encouraging comment, Russ. I endeavour to ensure that the great issues of life are presented in each funeral service I conduct. Mrs. Girard was a gracious, vivacious lady that wrote her own eulogy. What a powerful service this was. May God bless your service in His cause.

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