Easter & My Sister's Death

Jesus victory over the grave changes everything



4/3/20244 min read

gray cross near tall green trees
gray cross near tall green trees

I've been reflecting this last week on death. In fact this blog is on that topic. It's a confronting but necessary subject, but because of Jesus, it's one which does not keep us captive to grief.

At this time of the year, I particularly remember the passing of some dearly loved family members, which is why I love Easter (resurrection) Sunday so much.

I thought I would share with you some of my story around my sister's death. Maybe it's cathartic, or perhaps it will help someone reading this. It might be both.

A Beloved Sister

It's nine years since Merryl died. She was 58 and died of cancer. As well as being my sister, she was my closest friend from the day I was born. She was two years older than I was.

When Merryl first told me she had cancer, and the type of cancer, she added “It’s so advanced that the doctors say it's impossible to operate. There's nothing they can do.” When I got off the phone, I was sick, then sunk to my knees on the floor.

Merryl loved Jesus above all else. We both believed that “nothing is impossible with God." Immediately I began to pray and fast and do all I knew to do. I anointed her with oil and day after day worshiped, spoke the promises of God, and declared life and healing, in Jesus mighty name.

Merryl continued to go downhill. Fast.

A month later, I explained the situation to the senior leader of our church saying “Merryl is too weak to leave home, but if we can get her to the conference next week, can she have some private prayer with Leif Hetland? He said “Of course. I’ll make sure it happens.” He did. A few days later, Merryl had prayer with Leif.

But she wasn’t healed.

I also arranged for some others in the healing ministry to go to her home.

She wasn’t healed.

The last time I saw Merryl was on Tuesday evening.

I had arrived at her home with a green smoothie and a straw so she could get it down. But she was in no state to drink. Instead, she was in a lot of pain, and fear and tears filled her eyes. As a result, her breathing was irregular and erratic, making her condition so much worse.

I’m not a nurse, but this is what came to my mind to do ...

I took her hand and looked deeply into those beautiful brown eyes. Then said “Merryl listen, Jesus is with you. And He's here with us. And He is the Prince of Peace, and He wants to give you His peace right now. And so this is what we are going to do. We're going to breathe in the peace of Jesus. Watch me do it first.” Slowly I breathed in. “See... breathe in the peace of Jesus" I said. "And now, exhale, breathe out ... all fear and all anxiety and everything that’s not Him." I breathed out slowly. “OK? So now let’s do it together. Do it with me."

We started slowly breathing in, and then out. Inhaling peace, exhaling all that was not. And little by little her breathing became peaceful. And soon, she smiled.

After I had spent some time with her talking, I said “I have to go now, but I’ll be back on Saturday.”

She stood at the top of the steps while I walked down. At the bottom I looked up, smiled and called out "I love you. I’ll be back in two days with another smoothie!” She smiled and waved goodbye.

It was the last time I saw her.

A couple of days after that, my brother rang me and said “Merryl is going down fast. I suggest you get out there as soon as you can.” I immediately rang her husband and arranged to go the next day.

I very much wanted our time together to be special, most importantly that she would experience Jesus' closeness and love. I prepared communion, then waited on God, asking Him to show me what to share. I felt it was Psalm 139, so I prepared some thoughts around some of the verses. Then two worship songs came to mind. I found them on my phone. I felt ready.

But at 7:30 the next morning, the phone rang. It was my brother-in-law. He said "Our beautiful Merryl has left us. She died peacefully in her sleep last night.”

I was devastated. I was so upset I didn't see her one last time. And especially sad that I didn't get to share with her what I had prepared.

A few days later was the funeral.

I arrived at the service feeling numb. I sat down, then opened the Order of Service. And there, on the first page, was the Bible reading I had chosen to share with her - Psalm 139!

I turned the page. And to my amazement, there was one of the songs. I could hardly believe it!

Turning the final page, I stared ... there was the second song! To say that I was shocked is a massive understatement. I had nothing to do with planning her funeral, and had no idea that reading and those songs would be used!

But God knew.

As I stared at the Order of Service, tears filled my eyes. I felt God's loving arms wrap around me and the peace that passes all understanding fill my heart.

No. I don’t know why my sister wasn’t healed. But it will never stop me from praying for miracles, I've seen too many. Believe!

My sister is in the presence of Jesus! And she is cheering me on with the great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12.

Yes, I love Easter (resurrection) Sunday. Thank you Jesus for your sacrificial love. Because of all you did, those who believe in you will live beyond the grave.

All glory to Jesus.

(If you would like to comment, share your own story or receive prayer, please call (03) 9532 4618 or email carolyn@almondtreeministries.com.au)