The Last Novena

Sunday, June 26, 2011
Quetzaltenango (or Xela), Guatemala

For various reasons, the family decided to hold seven, not nine, novenas following Mayela’s death, so tonight was the last one. Like the others, it was held in Melanie and Julio’s apartment. About 30 people crowded in.

Just before the novena began, the electricity went off (and stayed off for three hours), so Melanie and others hastily lit candles, and we proceeded.

I had the main talk. I based my remarks on two Scriptures.

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Romans 8:18
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

I commented that while there are some unanswered questions in our minds about Mayela’s death, there are several things that we know for sure.
We know that God loves us even in the darkest places of life.
We know that God is with us even when we feel alone.
Mayela is safe in God’s presence, and we are in God’s care, too.
We know that God gives strength to the weak.
We know that God comforts us for a reason – so that we can comfort others with the comfort we have received.
We know that God wants to heal and restore us so that we can join him in his mission in the world – his mission of loving the unlovely, helping the poor, working for peace and justice, and taking the gospel to the whole world.

I also quoted Steve Saint:
“God does not promise that all of life’s chapters will be easy. He does promise, however, that in the last chapter He will finally make sense of all the others.”
(From Steve Saint’s moving and God-centered book, Walking His Trail, page 160.)

Then the leader had Julio and Melanie sit on chairs in the middle of the room, and we all gathered around them for prayer. Toward the end, Melanie and Julio each prayed. These were emotional moments. I suppose everyone was crying at one time or another, but the tears were the wholesome tears, combined with worship, repentance, faith and hope.

Several family members commented on the new, deeper unity in the family through Mayela’s death; on the spiritual impact of these novenas; and on their intention to follow Christ more seriously from now on.

We give thanks to God for the powerful ways he is working in us through Mayela’s “life,” even though she was stillborn.

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