The notification of the voice mail appeared when I powered up the phone after the plane landed. I smiled as I saw the message was from my good friend fellow church member and prayer partner Brenda Dixon.
As I walked to baggage claim, I played the message. And to my surprise, the voice of Brenda’s daughter came on delivering news I could have never been prepared to hear. As she simply said: “Mom passed away last night, call me when you can.”
Dumbfounded, I staggered to the luggage carousel. Deep in thought about the return call that I must make and what to say when a friend dies.
In her book, I Can’t Believe You Said That: Thirty Things Not to Say To The Bereaved, Dr. Francine Jennings writes: “On occasions of personal loss, although I may have gone through a similar experience, I will acknowledge the impossibility of knowing another individual’s feelings.”
As I reflected on those words, and the words that I would say to Brenda’s daughter, my thoughts turned to what Jesus said when a friend died.
In John 11:1-43 Jesus dealt with the death of his friend Lazarus. When Jesus went to comfort Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, He specifically told Martha, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Brenda Dixon is a friend, a fellow church member and a steadfast prayer partner who “lived by believing in God”. Her faith in God was strong in thought, word and deed.
Brenda lived her life by actively living out the Great Commission as described in Matthew 28:19-20.
She lived making disciples of many people and, until the very end of her earthly life, she obeyed the Father; teaching, praying and living a life pleasing to God.
Therefore, knowing all I know about the life and faith of Brenda Dixon. I now know what to say when a friend dies.
Because of her faith I can say to Brenda’s daughter the same words that Jesus told Martha: “Your Mother will rise again.”