Steve Wilsford's Message: Praise and Thanksgiving
Steve presented this message at Abigail's funeral - a celebration of her eternal life.
There once lived a wealthy man who had ten children. In one day, he lost everything he owned; and the very same day all seven sons and three daughters were killed when the wind collapsed the house where they were partying.
The bible says that this man, Job, got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped God saying,
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
Job 1:21-22 (NKJV)
Nearly the whole book of Job is given to the contemplation of Job, his wife, and his three friends over why all this calamity came to him. His wife wanted to blame God. His friends said surely it was his own fault. But, in the end, it was God who restored Job and comforted him from all his troubles.
It was in the beginning of the book that the answer to the big question, "Why?" was given. The bible says that Satan is the one that afflicted Job. Satan is the one that desired to bring this evil upon him.
We believe that Satan is the one who has touched our family with death. He is the one who desires to bring evil upon us. He is the one that wants us to blame God, to curse God and die.
But, we will Praise God. He is the one who has made us. We will Thank God. He is the one who has given us life. We will worship Him. He is the one who gave us the precious gift, Abigail Grace for five glorious days. He is the one who will hold her in His arms until we see her again. He is the one who will raise us from the dead. Amen!
For five days, Mindy and I held Abigail Grace day and night. Abigail taught us a thousand lessons in that short time. I'd like to share just a few with you now.
First, God is in control. Medical technology revealed Abigail's genetic defect to us before she was born; but no medical technology could fix it. No expert could tell us how severe her problems would be. No doctor could tell us whether she would be still born. Only God knew when she would come into the world, and how many days she would have with us. Although, He didn't tell us how long it would be, he did speak to us. Through his word, He assured us that He would be there with us. He said that he would listen to our prayers. He said that he cares. He said that none of us knows the number of days He has given each of us. He said that after a short time we could all be together again… forever. And so in a time of grief and sorrow, we found comfort and peace… and even joy.
Secondly, although we held Abigail as much as possible from the time she was born, we did have to lay her down a few times in the isolette. And we discovered that holding her was indeed the best thing for her. She did not do as well at all when she was not being held close to her Mommy and Daddy. None of us is any different than Abigail in this: we just don't do well when we are not close to God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ and His Church. Listen to His call, "Come closer." It is written, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
Finally, not knowing how long she would live was in itself a blessing. It caused us to relish every precious moment with her. We focused on her beauty. We cherished her every feature. We laughed with delight when she cried. We comforted her. We held her. We loved her. The lesson: We don't really know how much time we have left with our healthy kids, with our parents, with each other. We have a renewed focus on our own short lives. We are determined to make the most of every minute.
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Eph 5:15-16 (NKJV)
This includes the time we are spending together with you right now. We love each and every one of you. We thank you for your love and caring and sharing in our time of need. We thank God for you.
1 Thess 4:13-18 (NKJV) 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
We do cry, but we are Happy. We have found hope in Jesus Christ. We know and are confident that Abigail is in Heaven. This is not a wish or a fairy tale; but, faith in the written Word of the Almighty God. He sent her to us for five days as an angel with a message of Faith, Hope, and Love. It is not a new message, but a reminder of the plan of God for everyone who believes.
Jesus said "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.15 "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16 (NKJV)
A little child is innocent. The kingdom of Heaven is made us of innocent children. The only way for me to be innocent is to be forgiven by the blood of Jesus, and to have my sins washed away.
Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16 (NKJV)
We intend to see Abigail Grace again someday in wonderful place where no tears will fall. It is our fervent prayer to God that each one of you will become an innocent child of God, and join us in that great day.
See you soon Abby!