"is unanswered prayers".
That may be true, but I have another way to finish that statement for you to ponder:
Let me explain.
I have never dealt well with death. Every single time I go to a visitation, whether it was for my grandma, great-grandma, or even just to support a friend who lost a loved one, I bawl my eyes out. Even when I just hear about someone losing a loved one it chokes me up.
I put myself through the emotional wringer by reminding myself: I'll never see her again; she'll never get to see my kids grow up; he has no more time with his father; we didn't have the chance to talk about _____; I'll never get to hear the wealth of knowledge and history she has; and so on.
My last living grandparent passed away early this morning after a battle with cancer. Last year it claimed her leg. Last week, we were planning a date a few weeks out to take the girls to see her one last time as we were told she only had months to live.
Yesterday morning, plans were changed, and I was trying to find a day in the next few weeks to go as her prognosis changed to having a few weeks left. Yesterday afternoon, when that time frame dropped to days, I was looking to find a time this weekend to drive up. Last night, we were informed she had only hours left, if that.
As I lay in bed around 12:15 I was praying for God to end her suffering and bring her to Him. Fifteen minutes later, she passed peacefully with my own mother at her side.
As much as it hurts me to know she is gone, I will gladly take that answered prayer. Her pain is gone and I should celebrate that. Her suffering is gone and I should celebrate that. She is reunited with the Lord and I should celebrate that. For the rest of time, she will never know pain or sorrow, only joy and celebration, and I should celebrate that.
So back to the whole thing about death being a gift. God gave us the gift of death so we can be reunited with Him. If it weren't for death, we'd suffer an eternity away from Him. The pain of death is only for those who live. The joy of death is for those who pass.
One more time: God gave us the gift of death so we can be reunited with Him.
We should be celebrating her life and the life of Christ. He died so that we may live. He defeated death, so that we may be with the Lord forever.
It is difficult to praise the Lord when things don't go your way, but it's at these times we need to do exactly that. We need to pray that the Lord will use the bad times in our lives to bring us, and others, closer to Him.
We need death.
We need it not only to reunite us with our Lord, but to remind us to reach out to those we care the most about and ensure they are trusting in Jesus for their salvation. We need death to spread the gospel. We need it to remind us there is nothing on this earth that will fill the void in our hearts except for God.
We need death.
I'm still sad. I'm still crying and thinking about her. This time, however, instead of tears of sorrow I have tears of joy (mostly). I know I might still be a mess at the visitation and burial, but I also know the Lord will be with me and help me get through it.
Rest in peace grandma. We miss you. We love you. We celebrate your life. We praise God.