“God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh” (Luke 6:21b, NLT).
A soldier with great merit has gone home. He had three purple hearts for being wounded. He had two bronze stars and a silver star for heroism. He did three tours in Vietnam. Yesterday, at his memorial service, we heard of a rich and vibrant life of service to country, his family, his church, and to God. Jim Landingham might have suffered physically through the years as a result of service to his country, but he always fought to live. He fought to return. He fought to survive. Several times through the years he returned from the brinks of death to walk again through the doors of the church with that sweet smile on his face. Illness did not keep him away. He might have been struggling to breathe or to walk, but he always came. He always pushed himself to climb the steps to his Sunday school class. He pushed himself to do what was painful because overcoming is what a soldier does.
This time the Lord had different plans for Jim. As our pastor shared yesterday, Jim indicated in ICU that he knew the battle would soon be ended. A few days before Jim's death, Joyce felt three tingling shocks as she held Jim's hand while a hospital volunteer prayed. She was amazed and in wonder at the Holy Spirit's presence. God encouraged Joyce with that experience that he was with Jim through the ordeal. She prayed that it was a sign that the Holy Spirit meant to heal Jim. Many thought that Jim would survive once more. After all, he was a survivor, a fighter, a soldier. We had no idea that it would be different this time. This last battle would not be won on earth, but in heaven. The Lord decided that he would no longer struggle with heart issues, breathing issues, and blood sugar issues. His war is won, and he now lives illness-free with the Lord. It is something that we believe in–the joys and wonders of the promise of that place of eternal healing and peace prepared for us.
Joyce is an amazing woman. She has been faithful caregiver, wife, and fighter. She has fought hard for Jim's very survival, and stood in the gap for his needs through many years. Joyce has been the Aaron that held up Moses' arm while the battle raged. (Exodus 17:11-13). As long as she held up Jim's arms the battles were won. So she kept Jim's arms raised high through encouragement and pure determination. Even in the thick of battle, her laugh would suddenly ring out. Even in the midst of all the turmoil of hospital stays with sudden problems, she would always find a reason to laugh. When I think of Joyce, I see a woman of strong Christian character who believes in God's faithfulness, and has taken on whatever life has presented her with God's strength. She has loved and fought for Jim, and now the very one she loved and supported is no longer here for her to encourage. Now she needs our love and encouragement. Now she needs us to care for her heart.
This morning I discovered this verse, and it make me think of Joyce. “God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.” Joyce, we love you. We weep with you. God does bless you. He holds you and comforts you. We know you miss your soldier with all your heart. Right now let our love and Jesus' arms comfort you. Just know that we are here for you, and are praying for you, for Tony, Bridget, Nicholas, Hunter, and Raygen. Times of laughter have brought you through so much that you have faced in life. God will bless you with His love through the days that are ahead. In due time you will discover joy again.
Edgewood Church loves you, Joyce, and we are here for you.