“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Madison Knebusch passed away this morning in her bedroom, surrounded by her family, while being sung to by her friends, listening to words of comfort from the Scriptures, wrapped in the loving arms of her God, forgiven and made whole by the blood of her Savior.
Madison’s two-year battle with cancer is sad in many ways. It’s heart-breaking. But in countless other ways it is so marvelously beautiful. Breath-taking, inspiring, in the truly Gospel way it’s played out. The way the Body of Christ has come together to minister to the Knebusch family. The loving community that was experienced in hospital rooms and living rooms in the name and manner of our Christ. The burdens that were being shared. The great faith that has been shown by Levi and Shannon, not to mention Madison’s Holy Spirit strength that refused time and again to give in to the disease that was robbing from her everything we think it means to be really alive.
Realizing that Madison was more alive while she was battling cancer than I am right now. Or ever have been.
Madison never stopped thinking about others. Right up until Tuesday when her condition took that awful and irreversible turn, she was concerned about others, worried about others, ministering to others. Sending notes of encouragement to friends of her family who are dealing with their own illnesses. Asking questions about those at church she knew were hurting. Wondering aloud if her circumstances were taking away from the joy of others. Using her blog and her facebook page to record her innermost thoughts about God and his presence and his great promises and her unwavering belief and faith in his Word. Madison was truly alive, really living, that whole time. Thinking more about others, regarding the needs of others ahead of her own. At her sickest points, Madison was more alive than most of us ever have been because she was doing what she was made by her Creator to do. Serve. Sacrifice. Look like and think like and act like the Christ.
Realizing Madison is eternally alive right now. Forever. In the intense face-to-face presence of our God.
Madison’s eyes are open now. She’s made the trip. She’s on that other side. She sees everything so clearly now. She understands it all fully. Everything makes perfect sense to Madison right now. She’s there! She’s right where all of us so long to be. And she is so happy! Lord, come quickly! He has! Praise God, Madison today is an overcomer. She’s a conqueror. She’s an eternal daughter of our God and wearing the beautiful crown of a righteous princess. She’s there! Fully alive! Eternally alive!
Bonhoeffer wrote that “those who have died are in reality those who live and those living on earth are the dying. The cemetery is the place of life’s victory. Here lie those who live with the Lord.”
Hug your kids today. Kiss your spouse tonight. Call your parents. Express your love. Show your appreciation. And then get down on your knees and face and thank God for the wonderful people he’s put in your life.
Like Madison. And Levi and Shannon. And that whole Knebusch family.
While you’re down there, pray for the Knebusches. Pray for our merciful Father to bless them each with his grace and comfort and peace.
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine —
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
In that day they 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!'”
Lord, come quickly.