Summary: A Funeral Meditation: The death of Sarah motivated Abraham to seek the promises of God for his life.
1 Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.
3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 “I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”
It has been my observation that people write things in the front of their Bibles that they never want to forget. They write things that reveal their core values; that they think are worthy of reflection and aspiration. They write things they want others to eventually see and reflect upon as well.
Beth Anne sent me an email yesterday with some notations that she had found in Betty’s Bible.
• My scriptural spiritual hero: Peter
• My present-day spiritual model and how I want to imitate his or her faith: “Mrs. A” – Godliness and faithfulness and love
• The spiritual legacy I want to leave behind, and who I want to leave it for: Godliness – My children and all who have known me
I am particularly captivated by her final one. You see, that final notation is the fruit of the first two. As she looked at examples like Peter and “Mrs.A”, Betty was transformed into the woman we knew, loved, and now miss.
The ache that follows the loss of a loved one is as old as time. The ache seems to violently intrude and usurp the place now the vacant by the loss of our friend. It is unwelcome but it is inevitable. More importantly today I want you to understand that the ache – the grief – is thoroughly human and thoroughly appropriate.
There is nothing weak about grieving. Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, was a man’s man and he grieved deeply and openly for his wife when she passed. I … we … understand his anguish and can learn how to cope and navigate through our loss by observing this patriarch.
Indeed, like with Abraham, something valuable and irreplaceable had been taken away. Something cherished is gone. We can sympathize with his heart-ache can’t we?
Like Abraham, our grieving involves a deep sense of alone-ness. There is a sense that, try as we may, we take the presence of our loved one for granted. They are here and they have always been here but we all know … and then we all feel …
Like with Abraham, our grieving involves a flood of memories. I had the pleasure of listening to Betty’s children tell me stories the other day. They made us laugh and appreciate her once again. They helped us realize her legacy and they offered us the opportunity to crystallize and summarize her character and influence.
I notice that Abraham’s grieving moved past despair and was supported by hope!
Again, Betty’s desire to leave a Godly legacy comes to mind. Her legacy is closely linked to an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship removed doubt and instilled anticipation … confidence … hope … within her. It is a hope that every born again Christian understands. It is a hope that rests solely in the finished work of Christ on the cross – not in our selves. Like many saints before her Betty’s hope can be summarized in verses like 2 Timothy 1:12: “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
Hope allowed Abraham to move on. But look closely, Moving on does not mean moving past in the sense of forgetting.
Years earlier God had used the death of Terah, Abraham’s father to make him move on from the city of Haran. It was God’s plan for Abraham and his family to settle down in the land of Canaan (Israel) to and become a separate nation.
Through the death of Sarah, God again challenged Abraham with His promise. God would fulfill his purpose for Abraham and his descendants.
After Sarah died, Abraham bought his first piece of property in the land that had been promised to him … the land that would later be known as Israel. In a real way, Sarah’s death motivated Abraham to carry out his calling – to take the next step.
Again, I return to the desire that Betty had to leave a legacy – with you her friends and family.
Shannon Adler once said, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
Just as Sarah’s influence was always with Abraham, so the influence of Betty will always be with us. You’ll see it in each other’s actions and reactions; in the physical features of her relatives, in voice tones, in opinions, in gestures and in life’s choices.