No Torment

Burial of Sharice Marie Tumma 1985-2005
Tobias Haller BSG

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.
My sisters and brothers in Christ, it is hard enough to find appropriate words at the death and departing of one who goes from us old and rich in years. How much harder it is to find a word of encouraging strength when a sister or brother is taken from us in the flower of youth. Yet were I to find no comfort, were I to offer no encouragement, I would be no better than the foolish ones, in whose eyes death and departure are nothing but disaster and destruction.

Thank God it is not so! Thank God that we know that death is not the end. Thank God that we know that the sufferings of this life — of which Sharice had more than her share — thank God that the sufferings of this life, and the suffering of death itself, are not a punishment, are not a chastisement, are not a disaster nor a destruction. All of these are, as the wise man said, a little discipline in exchange for which those who endure it will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself.

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Sharice Marie did suffer, from her early childhood on, into an adulthood cut short too soon — too soon for us, too soon for her family and friends, too soon for her son. But we dare not say too soon for her; we dare not put God in the judgment dock, and accuse him as if we had his knowledge and wisdom, and understood his ways. The prophet has assured us that it is not the task of the clay to tell the potter what to do. Rather we are to place our trust in him who is our Maker, our Savior and our God. For wisdom assures us that, “those who trust in him will understand the truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect.”

So, hard as it is, my brothers and sisters, even as we are now in the midst of our mourning, let us place our trust and confidence in him. Let us place ourselves side-by-side with blessed John, as he looked and saw those multitudes that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

Look, there among them, do you see her now? A tall slim figure with dark skin set off by the whiteness of her robe, and beautiful eyes sparkling now, not with tears but with joy? Do you see her hold aloft that branch of palm, do you hear her voice shout out loudly in praise of her Lord and God?

We do not need to ask who that is; we need not ask of whom this multitude consists. God knows we know. These are the ones we have come out of the great ordeal. These are the ones who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. These are the ones who will hunger no more and thirst no more, will no more be stricken by the scorching heat, for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to the springs of the water of life, and wipe every tear from their eyes.

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We know full well that Sharice Marie had her time of weeping; she had her time of pain, as even her own blood, with its pernicious sickle cells, turned against her. But that other blood, the blood of Christ, the blood of her Lord and Savior, has bought her redemption, has assured her salvation. For that blood was shed on Calvary’s tree, blood poured out, my friends, for her, for you and me. Christ our good Shepherd has gone before to prepare the way, and he has purchased our passage with his own blood, and by his blood has made our reservations, preparing a place for us in his Father’s house where there are many dwelling places. This is our blessed assurance, dear friends, this the trust we have, and which we share with Sharice: “though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and has shed his own blood for my soul.”

That is why it is well with my soul, my friends, why I can share these words of comfort with you today. That is why it is well with my soul. That is why it is well with your soul. And that is why it is well with Sharice Marie’s soul — for she has passed through the sorrows that like sea-billows roll. She has passed through the great ordeal, she has washed her robe in the blood of the Lamb, and is now ready to take her place with that great multitude who give praise and honor and glory to God. So let us join our voices with Blessed John the Divine, and the voice of the multitude shouting out, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”