Within a twenty-four hour period, two different elderly women for whom my congregation and I have been praying have died.
One is Verna, the mother of one-time member of our church, now moved back to her native Wisconsin.
The other is Jean Cohen, the mother of writer and blogger Richard Cohen.
Eventually everyone, even those for whose health we pray, dies. But it would be wrong to conclude that our prayers are thus unanswered. Many times over the years, I've seen people live longer than doctors thought probable, affording opportunities for good-byes and reconciliations for them and their families. In other cases, I have seen people mercifully taken before they experienced horrid pain.
Of course, there are those people of virtue and love who go through excruciating deaths and we can't help wondering why. It's in these situations that I watch victims and families look to Jesus, God-in-the-Flesh, Who suffered physically and emotionally, in solidarity with all in the human family. Jesus is the sign and seal of the promise that Paul writes about so eloquently in Romans 8:31-39, that "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Now, my prayers go with these two families as they mourn their loss. May God give them encouragement and hope!