The Greatest Gift

June 9, 2000
by Connie Dunwoody

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

Two months ago this week, I received a phone call that no one ever wants to get. My brother called me to say that our mother had been killed that afternoon in a terrible car accident two blocks from her home in Vineland, Ontario. She and her two friends died when their car was hit by another on a country road.

I flew back to Ontario the next day. It was an awful and wonderful week all at once. Family and friends gathered to celebrate my mother's life, and to commit her into the hands of a God who loves us more than we know, for eternity. There was truly joy in the midst of sorrow.

I do not mourn my mother's death. How could I begrudge anyone the delight of heaven, even if it removes them from me? I am, however, profoundly sad and do, selfishly, mourn my loss.

So what is the greatest gift? Forgiveness. I have learned that forgiveness is not only a gift God has given us through Jesus, but is a gift we give to others, freely. My brother and I met with the young man who drove the car and offered our forgiveness and support. When I looked into his eyes, and saw there boundless shame, misery, fear, self-loathing — I knew the only possible response was compassion, forgiveness and love. How could we, who have been forgiven so much, withhold our forgiveness from him?

I have also learned that God's promises hold. It's easy to have faith when things are going well; I have discovered to my great delight that it's also easy when things are bad. In fact, it is essential! God cares so much for his children, those that he has called home to be with him, and those who remain to mourn, that it is impossible not to feel comfort and peace when we trust His plan, even if we don't understand it. My mother was fond of saying, "All things work together for good." (Romans 8:28 KJV)

I do believe that God will take this horrible event and create good — good I may never even know about. There is a peace which passes our understanding, and it is God's. We receive peace when we share it with others through His forgiveness, compassion and love.

Life is fragile. Love is not, hope is not, joy is not. Alleluia!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the ways in which You uphold Your promises and affirm our faith. Help us to trust Your plan even when we don't understand. Thank you for the glory of eternity, where Your children rest in peace. Thank you that nothing can ever separate us from your love, nor from the love of those who have touched our lives with theirs. Comfort us who grieve, and grant us the peace of forgiveness. Amen.

About the author:

Connie Dunwoody
Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, Canada

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