I missed out on Jerry Humble. I missed out big time. I didn’t know Jerry hardly at all. I’ve heard a lot about her, especially over the past several months and weeks. But I didn’t know her, certainly not like most of the people here at Central. When we moved here a year and a half ago, Jerry was already to the point where conversations with her were difficult. I had a couple of meaningful visits with her then, but she wouldn’t remember them a week later. And, so, yeah, I really feel like I missed out.
I do know her husband, Bill Humble. I know Bill pretty well. And because of what I know about Bill, I always thought, “He must have a really wonderful wife.” And I’m right about that.
I do know her daughter, Becky Liles. I know Becky pretty well. And because of what I know about Becky, I always thought, “She must have had a really spectacular mom.” And I’m right about that.
I’ve watched most of Jerry’s family and closest friends, especially over the past several months and weeks. I’ve seen the way you took care of Jerry. I’ve seen your great dedication and commitment to her. I’ve seen the love you have for her. And I’m thinking, “She must really be something.” And I’m right about that.
We were all together around Jerry’s bed Thursday night and I was asked to read Proverbs 31. Honestly, I thought, that’s probably a good idea. OK, yeah, a woman of noble character, it makes sense. I really wanted to read Psalm 139, which Becky suggested later. I really, really wanted to read from Isaiah 46, which I managed to squeeze in later. But, yeah, Proverbs 31, why not?
And I started reading. With Bill. And Becky and Ted. And Jan. And Amanda. A few others. With all the ones who know Jerry best and love Jerry most.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”
And as I read, I was moved.
“She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”
I was moved by the reactions and the responses from those in the room to the faithful words of Scripture that so perfectly described this faithful woman of God. It was indescribably special.
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. Her husband is respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
I felt like this passage was connecting everybody in the room to Jerry, through God, and to one another. We were united by these faithful words to Jerry and to God and to one another. God was doing something really extraordinary in the reading of his Word. It was sacred. It was holy.
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
When I finished reading, I felt like I knew Jerry Humble. I knew her. This is Jerry. To everybody who knows her, Jerry truly reflected the glory of God. Jerry revealed God to all her family and friends. She showed them God. And I felt like on Thursday night, our God had turned the tables. God revealed Jerry to me. Through Holy Scripture, God showed me Jerry. And now I know her.
Jerry was a good woman. Everybody who knew her will testify to that. We thank God today for the lessons in kindness and generosity he taught us through Jerry. We thank God today for the way he revealed himself to us through Jerry’s sacrificial nature, her forever giving nature. We thank God for showing us through Jerry how to be strong in the face of sickness, how to persevere when things become difficult, how to keep going when things get tough. Oh, yeah, she was a good woman. We’d all be hard pressed to think of anyone as good as Jerry.
But, praise God, Jerry didn’t put her faith in her own goodness. She did not trust in her own good deeds or exemplary life. Jerry Humble put her faith in God. She put her trust in God. So for Jerry, and for us, death has no sting. Death has no victory. In fact, death is actually swallowed up in the victory of our God in Christ.
“In that day we will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation!'” ~Isaiah 25:9
May our gracious God bless Jerry’s sweet family with his merciful comfort and peace. May he grant them joy and strength. And may we be forever grateful for the divine gift of knowing this beautiful daughter of heaven.