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The death of my beloved wife

by , CMI Canada

Published: 26 May 2020 (GMT+10)
Clarence-Janzen-and-wife
Clarence and Dawn

In these difficult times of a global pandemic, the reality of isolation, fear, and worry have become the new normal for many people around the world. They fear for their future, and many wonder how and when this will all end. Will the proposed ‘easing’ of gatherings, and the re-opening of businesses to restart the economy cause another surge in viral spread? Also, the question of, ‘Where is God in all of this?’ is probably raised more often than we might admit.

I understand some of these things. On March 13, 2020, at the great ‘surge’ of the global pandemic and as the world was heading towards a full lockdown, my precious wife of 32 years passed away from brain cancer. I held Dawn in my arms for the last five hours of her life, and then gave her back to the Lord at that dreadful moment of 2:25 am. Only four months earlier, I thought that she was a healthy woman of 57 years old, serving faithfully with me in CMI. In fact, we had only returned two days earlier from a CMI speaking tour when she went into a full epileptic seizure. Her brain was already being taken over by this malignant tumor. According to the neurologist, at that moment, her fate had already been sealed.

I still weep terribly for the loss of my loved one every day.

So, where is God in all of this pain and suffering? I am reminded of an article written by Russell Grigg back in 2009, Is Death a Good Thing or a Bad Thing? In this article, Russell shared his story of his wife’s passing and gives some helpful analysis:

For someone who had not intimately witnessed death before, nothing prepared me for the realization that the person who a few moments previously had been a living, loving, sharing, interacting wife, mother and grandmother, was now a lifeless corpse. From this point of view, death is a terrible, terrible thing. No wonder Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35), even though Jesus knew He was about to bring Lazarus back to life.
This tells me three things about the holiness and love of God.
  1. How awful sin must be to a holy God that the penalty for our rebellion against Him is such a terrible, terrible thing as death.
  2. How wonderful is God’s love to us sinful creatures that He sent His own Son to pay the penalty for our sin by means of His death on the cross.
  3. How inconceivable is the theistic-evolutionary presupposition that a God of love would have used a process of death and suffering over millions of years to produce the first human beings.
When I wrote to family and friends to tell them of Merle’s death, I said, “Merle has preceded us all to heaven.” We who know Christ as Saviour and Lord shall all meet again when we see Jesus face to face. Children and grandchildren who know Christ will meet Merle again, even as I will meet my father and mother again.
But how awful must be the prospect for those who die without Christ …— Russell Grigg.

I also affirm that death for believers gives such hope for those of us left behind. Dawn and I have five children and with their spouses and our grandchildren (those born and those still to come), they will see their mom and grandma again some day. Death can do one of two things: It can separate for all of eternity, or it can be a temporary ‘pause’ until I can hold her in my arms once again. Even through all the tears, I am so thankful that in our situation, it is the latter of the two outcomes.

So, where are you today? Is your faith in the One who overcame death on our behalf—the One of whom the inerrant Word of God testifies? Or, have you been lulled by the waves of false teaching? Have you believed that old lie of Satan, “Did God really say … ?”

In times of pandemics, worry, fear, and uncertainty, put your trust in God’s Word. “In the beginning, God created …” If this is not true, then nothing else matters.

My hope is built on nothing less.

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