Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 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. (Genesis 23:1-2)
This past weekend I attended a funeral of a mother who was in her prime. She was just only 48, a mother of four beautiful children. The oldest child is Christine, my son’s fiancé. Christine will be graduating from UW-Milwaukee two months from now, this fall. So sad and trembling that her mother would not be there to celebrate her graduation, or the day of her wedding. Christine’s mother was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumor nearly two years ago. The doctor said she had just four months to live but she outlived that for a little over a year.
Sarah at her old age is still young when you factor in the longevity of her life. She was 90 years when she gave birth to Isaac. She died at the age of 127 and was the only woman whose age was recorded in Scripture. At the time of her death Isaac was 37 and Abraham 137. Abraham lived to be an old man at the age of 175 and 38 more years after Sarah’s death. Sarah’s age would be considered old, but she was always seen and regarded as young and beautiful. Her youthfulness made her departure unexpected and untimely. Her death brought the greatest tragedy to Abraham. There were no relatives who would be able to attend the funeral or to console the grief of Abraham and Isaac (Abraham’s relatives lived 700-800 miles away). Abraham and Isaac were all alone to grieve and weep for Sarah who was the most beautiful wife and mother in the land.
I can’t imagine for families and individuals who have experienced loss of their loved ones during this pandemic in which very few, if any, of their relatives can visit and give comfort. How are they coping with life without their loved one, especially someone who they had had a life-long relationship as a spouse? Grieving for the loss of a partner is unimaginable and detrimental to health. The meaning of life and the reason for living may seem all gone, unimportant. They will need to find new meaning and reason to continue living without their loved one.
If you know someone who has experienced loss in the family, a relative or church member, during this pandemic, I hope you can be a source of consolation in their grief and mourning. Even if you can’t be there in person, you may reach out with a phone call or a video call, a sympathy card and other means of sharing and acknowledging their loss. Keeping them in your prayers and regular contact for a time would mean a lot to them as they cope in the future, searching for new meaning and reason for life.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.
“Xalas hnub nyoog nyob tau ib puas nees nkaum xya xyoo. 2Xala tuag hauv lub moos Khiliya Anpa (uas yog Heploo) hauv Khana‑as tebchaws. Aplahas pam Xala thiab quaj quaj nco nco Xalas” (Chivkeeb 23:1-2)
Lub asthiv taag lug nuav kuv tau moog koom ib lub nteeg rua ib tug namtsev kws tseem taabtom ib ntsaab neej xwb. Nwg muaj 48 xyoo hab muaj plaub tug mivnyuas zoo nkauj zoo nraug. Tug hlub hu ua Christine kws yog kuv tug tub tug hluas nkauj. Christine tseem yuav kawm ntawv tav huv UM-Milwaukee ob hli saud nuav. Tu sab hab ib ce tshee nyo tas nwg nam yuav tsi nyob ntawd lug ua kev zoo sab rua nwg kev kawm ntawv tav, lossis rua nub kws nwg moog yuav quasyawg. Tug kws khumob kuaj tau Christine nam muaj kaabmob cancer rua lub hlwb hau hab has tas nwg rua muaj plaub lub hlis nyob xwb. Tabsis nwg kuj nyob tau ib lub xyoo ntau tshaaj le kws tug kws khumob has.
Xalas thaum nwg tub muaj noobnyoog laug lawm los nwg tseem hluas heev yog yuav muab has txug txuj sav ntev nyob rua lub neej tam cov yawmkoob Alahaas puab. Nwg muaj 90 xyoo thaum nwg yug Ixaj. Nwg tuag thaum nwg muaj 127 xyoo hab yog tuabtug quaspuj kws muaj ntawv sau tseg huv Vaajlugkub txug nwg lub noobnyoog. Thaum nwg tuag Ixaj muaj 37 xyoo hab Alahaas muaj 137. Alahaas ua neej nyob laug nkoog muaj 175, 38 lub xyoo tomqaab kws Xalas tuag. Xalas lub noobnyoog txawm tas laug los tuabneeg pum tas nwg tseem hluas hab zoo nkauj heev. Nwg qhov kev hluas ua rua tsi muaj leej twg xaav tas nwg yuav ncaim hab moog sai ua luaj le. Nwg kev ncaim moog ua rua Alahaas txomnyem kawg nkaus. Tsi muaj ib tug kwvtij los ib tug txheebze twg yuav tuaj tau tuaj koom lub nteeg hab txhawb nwg lub zug vim Alahaas cov txheebze puavleej tuaj tsi tau (puab nyob dleb le 700-800 mais kev dleb). Alahaas hab Ixaj ob tug ob txivtub nkaus xwb tau lug nyav lug quaj Xalas kws yog ib tug quaspuj hab tug namtsev kws zoo nkauj tshaajplawg nyob rua tebchaws ntawd.
Kuv xaav tsi tau tas cov tsev neeg lossis txhua tug kws tau ntsib kev txomnyem le Alahaas hab Ixaj nyob rua lub sijhawm muaj kaabmov kolunaj nuav kws tsi muaj kwvtij neej tsaa coob tuaj saib tau hab txhawb lub zug. Puab yuav nyob le caag thaum tug tuabneeg kws puab hlub tshua pluj moog lawm, tshwjxeeb rua tej nkawm namtxiv kws sib sib hlub? Ntshai yuav muaj kev tu sab hab tsi paub ua neej moog ntxiv. Kev ua neej yuav zoo le tsi muaj qaab hau hab tsi tseemceeb dlaabtsi. Puab yuav nrhav txug kev totaub tshab txug kev ua neej hab le maam qaab sab ua neej moog ntxiv.
Yog tas koj paub leejtwg kws ntsib txuj kev txomnyem nuav nyob huv nwg lub neej lossis nwg tsev tuabneeg, tsi has yuav yog koj ib tug txheeb ze lossis ib tug tswvcuab huv pawgntseeg, kuv vaam tas koj yuav ua puab lub chaw npligsab txhawb puab txuj kev quaj ntsuag. Txawm tas koj moog koom tsi tau lub nteeg los tej zag koj kuj yuav txhawb tau puab lub zug lug ntawm kev hu xuvtooj moog thaam, xaa ib dlaim ntawv moog txhawb zug hab qha puab paub tas koj hlub tshua txug puab. Ncu qaab thov Vaajtswv paab puab hab nug puab moo saib puab nyob le caag. Tej nuav yuav txhawb tau puab lub zug heev hab paab kuas puab kaaj sab ua neej nyob moog lawm tomntej.