Exactly a week ago my grandmother (the last one I had on earth) passed away. Last thursday was her funeral. She reached the blessed age of 92. I loved my grandmother and I am so blessed to have some good memories of her. I know she is in a better place now. A place that she longed to go to. A place where my grandfather and my uncle were waiting for her.
In times of grieve we can be more sensitive towards words than at other times. So am I! When Billy Graham passed away (also this week), people all over the internet were praising him for everything he has done. And he did do great things! But what stung me, was when I read in some responses that Heaven was throwing a big party right now and that Heaven was blessed to have him. No offense towards anyone but why do we think that Heaven will be happier with someone who had the opportunity to do more for Jesus? I am only being honest. It bothers me. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work in such a big way for Jesus. God has a personal plan with everyone. But when I lost my grandmother and I read these praises, I found it hard to take in. Was Billy Graham better than my grandmother? Was Heaven throwing a party when Mister Graham entered but with my grandmother, no one cared that much? I was struggling with this last week!
Believe me, this is not about Mister Graham or my grandmother. It happens with many famous or well-known people. When someone who was well-known passes away, Heaven is so blessed to have him/her. But we don’t say these things about a homeless person on the street or our nextdoor neighbor! And I get this deep sense of standing up for these people. Jesus always said, “The first will be the last and the last will be the first in the Kingdom of God”. And with this in mind I get the deep feeling to defend the unknown. Maybe it is my grieve speaking right now. But in the eyes of God everyone is exactly the same.
As I was struggling with these thoughts, a certain bible verse came to my mind that gave me a sense of peace. It is Matthew 11:11 which says, Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Jesus said these words shortly before John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod. Jesus loved John. They were even related in a sense. Jesus’s Mother Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, were cousins. But Jesus has in mind that in Heaven, everything is different than here on earth. God the Father does not treat one better than the other. For the Father, everybody is equal. Here on earth we establish a certain hierarchy. The one who does the most for God is somehow also the best. But to me it was such a great comfort to know that God does not look at people this way? My grandmother was not an evangelist. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She was loved by many but did not have many conversations about Jesus. She was a believer, a sinner saved by grace, but not a well-known evangelist. And still God is as happy to have her in Heaven as He is with someone like Billy Graham (or Henri Nouwen, Thomas A. Kempis or anybody else). This thought gave me peace and understanding. Maybe I have always known this but I was grateful that God pointed it out to me anyway.
Like I said, we get very sensitive in times of grieve. Things that normally don’t get to us, do now! Normally I would have ignored the whole thing but now I couldn’t. And in this struggle, God was right there with me. He was comforting me and helping me to see things in a different way. Grieve can throw a blanket over our eyes and make our sight foggy. It can prevent us from thinking with a clear mind. In these moments of grieve, we may know that Jesus wants to comfort us and help us. We do not face this alone. We are never alone. Jesus love will always be with us. Even when nobody sees us.