My sister-in-law died unexpectedly, tragically, on May 14, 2022. She was thirty years old.
I’ve done many funerals, but none of them were as difficult to write and oversee as this one. I struggled to find words. I prayed for God to help me find what to say, how to say it, and for God to help me get through the service and minister to our family and friends.
Here’s a portion of what I said at her service while preaching from her own Bible that was held together by duct tape.
She used this Bible.
Sometimes people have Bibles that just sit around and don’t get much use, and they still look brand new even though it’s ten years old. Not her Bible.
She was given this Bible in 2007 and it has been used—it is filled with notes from youth retreats, underlines, highlights, and comments.
In 2018, she was still using this Bible. We know this because, at times, she wrote the date next to the verses she highlighted. And on 6/13/2018, while battling her deepest struggles there in Arizona, she highlighted all of Psalm 91.
Look at Psalm 91:1, there on the card for the service, I invite you to follow along with me:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1 NIV)
I love that word “whoever.” It’s such a broad word. It’s not restrictive. It’s not limiting. Christianity is an invitation to “whoever.”
I just love that the Bible doesn’t say here, “Whoever has it all together, they will get heaven.” The Bible doesn’t talk this way ever. I’m so grateful that God’s word never says, “Whoever lives the Christian life perfectly, and is impressive, they can rest in God.” No one fits in that version. No one.
While she had deep struggles that we are not strangers to, Christ’s forgiveness is deeper still.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all have regrets, we all have things we wish we could replay and redo.
And if you are a Christian, an honest Christian, you can look at your life and go, “I’m not the Christian I want to be, but Christ is the Savior I need him to be.”
The Christian can truly say, “Even if all my sins covered the highest mountain, Jesus’s blood, like Noah’s flood, covers them all and gives me great pardon.”
The mercy of the risen Jesus, his death for all of our sins, invites any and all “whoevers” to his Kingdom, to believe in him, to repent and turn to him.
- Whoever throws themselves at the mercy of God will find it.
- Whoever surrenders, open-handedly to the grace of God will be filled.
- Whoever admits their neediness, will be helped.
- Whoever trusts in Christ’s death and resurrection, will be saved.
- Whoever asks for forgiveness will enjoy it.
I love that word whoever. She was a whoever. I’m a whoever. You are a whoever.
Have you collapsed into the blood of Christ? Have you believed and received in the mercy of God for sinners like us? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
“Whoever” is a hallmark word of Christianity. God loves to save whoevers—whoever doesn’t measure up, whoever needs mercy, whoever has sinned so large they are embarrassed, whoever wants grace, whoever sees their need for Jesus and wants Jesus.
In Jesus, eternal forgiveness is granted. All of your past, present, and future sins are covered. Jesus says, “Come to me. I’ll take it.” You will find rest for your soul. True rest in peace.
She highlighted Psalm 91:1 for a reason. It meant something to her on June 13, 2018. And she would tell you today, “Turn to Jesus. Dwell with him forever.” And with what she is seeing today, she would tell everyone here, “Believe in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. Follow him. Trust him.”
Friends and family, when your grief is high, when you cannot think, and your emotions are all over the place, the Psalms are the best counsel I can provide. Go from Psalm 91 and add 30—she was thirty years old—and you land at Psalm 121. Copy this prayer of hope and help.
“Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1–2).
Pray from your heart, even if you can’t get the words out, the Spirit knows. Just pray, “Lord, help me.” That’s how we dwell in the shelter of the Almighty and find rest in his shadow.
“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:8–9).
May God be with us all.