Anna had not infrequently spoken of death. In fact, it was but a few days before that Anna was upset about something at home and told her mother that she would rather die and go be with Jesus. Just two nights before her death we had a guest for dinner. In the course of conversation, the subject of the children’s savings came up. Out of the blue, Anna said, “What will happen if I die? I don’t have a will.” Our guest, a pastor, said, “You can make a will. All you have to do is write it down on a piece of paper.” Nothing more was said, but I would not be surprised if we found a brief will among Anna’s things.
But lest it be thought that Anna had some kind of suicidal bent on those last few days, it should be known that the reality of death and the presence of the Lord were ever before Anna. Perhaps I should not say it that way. It was really the reality of the presence of the Lord and her knowledge that she would someday spend eternity with Him that drove Anna. Death she knew was the necessary evil that preceded that glorious union. She often prayed that Jesus would return soon so she would not have to face death. I may be mistaken, but I seem to recall an argument between Anna and Samuel in which it was being debated whether it would be better to be alive when Christ returns, or to be dead, but then be raised first in the resurrection.
Anna very much looked forward to being with her Lord. She prayed for the Lord’s return. Her favorite song was “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” It was sung at her baptism. She faced life always with the awareness that this life was temporal. It was a shadow of something greater to come. She knew much more that most adults that this world was not her home. She always had a certain other-0worldliness about her. As I reflect on her life and character I can conclude that Anna was not made for this world. Actually, none of us were made for this world, but Anna seemed to have been given an extra awareness of that reality.
The sense that Anna was not created for this world helps me to make sense of Anna’s death. Many have written notes to us expressing the unfathomability of this tragedy. Many have written asking why it happened. I don’t want to deny them the right to ask that question, but I also want to be clear that knowing Anna and knowing my God leads me to see things a bit more clearly, or differently. In fact, the more I meditate on the events preceding her death I see more and more sense in it. Of course, the more I think on these events the deeper becomes my sadness at losing such a precious daughter. But my sadness, as deep as it is, is conquered by the joy from the confidence I have that she is with her Lord and from the hope I have in the resurrection.
That hope became more evident to me after I came home and viewed her then empty body. I sat in our front room. Anna’s body lay on a mattress before me. She was dressed in her pretty blue satin pajamas with her hair pulled up in a pony tail so that her beautiful face was seen. Her soft features were marred by the fading color in her cheeks and lips. As I looked on her ashen face I thought of the young girl that Jesus brought back to life. As that girl was laid out when Jesus entered her room, her face must have looked just like Anna’s. And I thought, “I know that Jesus raised that girl from the dead. I know that he can raise my girl to new life as well.” And I began crying out to the Lord to bring the color back into her cheeks. I would see her shallow chest rise and fall with new breath. And her eyes would open as if she had just woken from a deep sleep. But as soon as I voiced that prayer, the Lord immediately answered me, saying, “I can raise her from the dead, and in fact, I already have. I am the resurrection and the life.” And just as a wave of sadness had washed over me when I saw my daughter’s body, so a wave of peace, security, and hope washed over me at that moment and has sustained me since.