At a somber Good Friday service twenty-five or thirty years ago, the congregation sang “Abide With Me” and I looked up in the dim light to see tears in my mother’s eyes. I was eight or ten or twelve – too young to understand her anguish. She was grieving, as though someone had died. Someone close to her. Someone she knew well, and loved.
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, Lord abide with me
Age has brought me bits of understanding, and I now grasp the immense faith on display in Mom’s tears. Someone had died. Someone close to her. Someone she knew well, and loved. Jesus Christ, her friend and Savior, died on the cross to redeem her and give her eternal life. It wasn’t a tradition she observed out of habit, not just something she believed. She was certain of His suffering and death, and mourned it.
Swift to it’s close ebbs out life’s little day
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me
It’s been nearly a year since Mom died, suddenly and unexpectedly – a thief in the night on a Wednesday afternoon. We sang “Abide With Me” at the funeral and I cried, but I haven’t since then. I’ve been waiting for the heavy hand of grief to fall on my shoulder but it hasn’t. I miss her, but I can’t be sad for Mom. She loved the Lord she served so deeply that His suffering brought her to tears, and now she’s risen to eternal life with Him. Who can cry over that?
I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness
Death where’s thy sting, oh grave thy victory?
I triumph still if Thou abide with me
I rejoice for a faith that made Mom’s Savior real and alive and present for her. I pray for that kind of faith. For myself. For my wife and children. For my father and sister and nephews, for my in-laws, for my friends. For you. The glory of Easter outshines the sorrow of the grave for all who believe. Christ has Risen, He has Risen indeed.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven’s morning breaks and Earth’s vain shadows flee
In life, in death oh Lord abide with me