Yesterday I lost a dear friend from this earthly life and while I await the new dawn of life in the resurrected Christ I mourn our earthly loss and in grief and assurance of emancipation look to the ultimate dawn of the coming Son.
This hope amidst grief is poignantly captured in the closing paragraphs of the extraordinary South African novel, Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.
In the novel the father, an Anglican priest, holds on to this assurance of a new dawn, an emancipation, in the midst of his grief at the execution of his adult son.
The father has risen before the dawn and in the darkness awaits the time when his son is to be executed. The depth of the Christian images captivate me. Their meaning and comfort are for the father – and for us also.
I continue to reread this passage with thanks to God for the love of God in Christ, for authors such as Alan Paton and for beloved friends who die in the faith of Christ and whose emancipation is sure and secure in Him. My tears flow even as my grief is assuaged .
The final paragraphs from Cry, The Beloved Country: a story of comfort in desolation Alan Paton, Penguin 1944 p. 236
He (the father) looked out of his clouded eyes at the faint steady lightening in the east. Be he calmed himself, and took out the heavy maize cakes and the tea, and put them upon a stone. And he gave thanks, broke the cakes and ate them, and drank of the tea. Then he gave himself over to deep and earnest prayer, and after each petition he raised his eyes and looked to the east. And the east lightened, till he knew that the time was not far off. And when he expected it, he rose to his feet and took off his hat and laid it down on the earth, and clasped his hands before him. And while he stood there the sun rose in the east.
Yes, it is the dawn that has come. The titihoya (bird) wakes from sleep, and goes about its work of forlorn crying. The sun tips with lights the mountains of Angeli and East Griqualand. The great valley of the Umzimkulu is still in darkness, but the light will come there. Ndotsheni is still in darkness, but the light will come there also. For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when the dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.
Our final emancipation is founded in Jesus Christ who promises that those who believe in Him will live, even though they die. The Gospel according to John 11:23-27,
23Jesus said to her (Martha of Bethany), Your brother will rise again.
24Martha answered, I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
27 Yes, Lord, she told him, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.
See newspaper notice, Note on a friend’s death.