Faith, Family, Life, Relationships

O Death, Where is Your Sting?

After a long night of literally fighting to draw in each breath, Heather Hobbes Burrill has slipped into glory at 11:30am to be met by her loving Saviour and her waiting mother. The nurse was here working on some medication to help settle her struggled breathing when she relaxed and let go of the fight.
I can only imagine what joy she has stepped into. I can only imagine the contrast from the pain of her struggle with cancer over these past 3.5 months, to the perfection of glory. I can only imagine what it is like to look Jesus Christ in the eyes and let the gruelling marathon of faith be eclipsed by sight. Pure and holy sight of the pure and Holy One!!
Her infectious smile seemed to me to sparkle like sunlight off of water. It had such an inherent brightness to it and often was used by God to minister to me in times of stress.
“Honey, I will miss you. But I am so very relieved that your appointed time of suffering has met its end and that you are now able to receive the rewards for staying true and faithful through it all. Sing your heart out in praise of His glory and goodness there, and we’ll do the same here until we meet again. I love you more deeply than I even understand.” – Kevin Burrill, Facebook

Before today, I haven’t mentioned anything here about the Heather referenced in this quote or her recent struggles with cancer.  I haven’t said anything, because I’ve not known how to feel.

I didn’t know Heather.  I remember her family from ages ago and homeschooling.  I was actually named after her sister, but her sister doesn’t know this and I don’t know her sister.   This family moved away over a decade ago, and she has long been a name and not much of a memory for me. 

However, Heather passed away yesterday after months of struggling with brain cancer, and I cried.

What makes one cry for a stranger?  
What connection could one possibly have for a name, a face, a family?  
What makes one sense peace and joy amidst the darkest of times?  
What makes a family such as this hold a worship service not 12 hours following the passing of a loved one?  
What makes a spouse ask that no one wear black to the funeral as a celebration of life?

Ironically, the connection I feel is beyond the picture of the happy face of this beautiful woman next to the two sons she has left behind.  Even deeper still is the pain I have for a man who has been left widow before age 30.  

However, amidst this sorry is the overflowing joy that is greater and more swelling than both emotions!

What is it?

As a believer in Jesus Christ, we belong to a great family.  We, as a whole, are the body of Christ before a dying, sinful world.  Our common bond is the understanding, the recognition, of our own sin and the humble acceptance of Jesus Christ as our righteousness.  We were all destined to hell, lost and deserving of damnation, when He, Jesus Christ, offered His Life, His Perfection, His place of glory in Heaven with his Father in order to offer us the gift of salvation and life eternal.  

Yes, that is the connection I feel.

The pain I feel is sorrow for a man who has loved with everything he is and the pain of empathy at the love I have for my own husband.  To be left without him would cause deep and lifelong pain, so I mourn for this man Kevin and his unceasing love for a wife who is with him no more.

The hope I feel…. The hope of the resurrection and the companionship with Jesus Christ that Heather is getting to experience right now.

What amazement!  As tears streamed down my face in my office bathroom stall, I knew such great peace and joy for this stranger woman who had left earth today.  So sad was I for her family, her sons, her husband, her friends that I cried; but so happy was I that Heather was in the presence of Jesus Christ Himself that my heart did not ache, it soared!

1 Corinthians 15…           

What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. … So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. …. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven….

Behold! I tell you a mystery…. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

-In honor and memory of a wonderful, Godly woman, Heather Hobbes Burrill

2 thoughts on “O Death, Where is Your Sting?”

  1. What a wonderful message about my cousin Heather. I have told many of my friends who have said they wept as well and felt like they knew her..that I hoped they’d take a little piece of her and her faith with them through life. kevin shared that when asked if she was upset/angry….her response was something to the effect of (i’m definitely paraphrasing)…. “how can I be angry that I expected to live to be 80…it obviously wasn’t in HIS plan”. What an awesome testimony of faith.

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