Our family sat huddled together in the pastor's study, listening intently to the details of the program for the funeral tomorrow.
"I'm going to talk a little bit of Daniel's childhood, some funny things he said or did, and then about his service in the Marine Corps," Uncle Tony spoke softly of his nephew. "I want to give his brother Michael some time to share the story of Daniel's belief in God at the end."
Uncle Tony paused, rubbing his hand back and forth across his chin. Then he looked up me.
"Aubrey, would please sing? Would you mind singing for the family... for Dan? I'm sure your brother-n-law would have wanted you to."
I looked around to the faces of my husband's family. It was such a shock! The fire the night before, and then the emergency trip to the burn center in hopes of saving my husband's brother. There had been only time for a short good-bye, less than twenty-four hours. Only twenty-eight years old and gone! The grief in their faces was more than I could bear to look at. There had been little sleep and little time to grieve. I myself was in shock, but my emotions held intact. I felt it necessary to be strong for my husband, who had lost his only brother. I had to be strong for my children.
I nodded solemnly. "I'll sing," I said simply, not knowing yet what God would give me.
They thanked me for lifting a burden, and helping with the funeral program.
It was almost instant that the song came to me, "Rejoice in the Lord". A young man named Ron Hamilton wrote the song, after finding out he had cancer is his eye, and would be permanently blind. He's known as Patch the Pirate now, as he wears a patch over his eye. He took a tragic loss in his life, and used it to glorify God through this song:
"God never moves without purpose or plan,
When trying his servant and molding a man.
Give thanks to the Lord though your testing seems long;
In darkness He giveth a song.
O rejoice in the Lord He makes no mistakes,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
And when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold.
I could not see through the shadows ahead;
So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day;
Then peace came and tears fled away.
Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens his children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear."
I cannot tell you in my own personal life, how many times I have heard this song sung in times of great trial. It was sung recently at the funeral of my brother's tiny baby, and again at a friend's funeral for her stillborn baby. Many times this song has comforted those who sought comfort through Jesus Christ.
I'm reminded also of how often through our Christian history, that God gave a song to those in tribulation. Paul and Silas sang in their prison cell, and were freed from their chains. Fanny Crosby sang about seeing her Savior clearly, though blind in both her eyes. Horatio Spafford wrote the infamous hymn we sing in church today, It Is Well With My Soul, after losing his four daughters at sea.
Singing is a wonderful gift from God. It brings comfort, happiness, and joy to us, and glorifies and praises God.
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