Tonight my mind and heart are still at yesterday’s memorial service for Jim Rabb, the 32 year old son of good friends. Though hundreds assembled to honor his memory and encourage his brokenhearted family, the event was sorrowful.
As we waited for the service to begin, I studied the program and noticed we’d be hearing from both of Jim’s parents. His mom and I grew up together at Moody Church, and once we’d married and had families of our own, we spent summers in Michigan cottages a block apart.
Jim’s father, John, shared valiantly and effectively about the strong relationship he had with his son, but because I’m a mother like my friend Lois, I longed to know what she was thinking. Speaking at this emotionally-packed occasion would be a burdensome task, and I admired her willingness to stand in front of a microphone at all.
Lois did a beautiful job, and her words held power. She talked warmly about her son, describing daily phone chats and frequent affirmation of their love for each other, from the time he was a little boy.
Then she told a story about her favorite Scripture verse, Romans 8:28. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Through the years, the Lord has sent what she called “little hugs” through those biblical reference numbers, again and again.
For example, on New Year’s Day this year, she was luxuriating in a morning when she didn’t have to set her alarm or get up early. As she lay in bed talking to the Lord in the first moments of a new year, she turned to see what time it was. Her bedside clock said, “8:28”, a little hug from God to start off well.
Five months later, after having just heard the devastating news of her only son’s sudden death, she looked again at a clock. At that critical moment, it said, “8:28”. As her heart was racing double-time and her head pounding with an impossible reality, God gave her a firm hug and said, “Lois, you can’t see it now, but my purposes in all this are positive and far-reaching. Everything is going to turn out well.”
A mother who’s able to stand and speak to hundreds at her own child’s memorial service could only do it because God was already making good on his 8:28 promise to her.
Tonight, just before I sat down to write this post, I went to the kitchen for some iced tea. As my mind flooded with thoughts of Jim and his family, I glanced at my oven clock.
It said 8:28.
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)