This month was bittersweet; it ended with the loss of our dear mother, Johanna Beeke, at the ripe age of 92, after a lengthy illness and many tearful goodbyes. As a family, we experienced in the loss of our dear mother that “man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets” (Eccl. 12:5). A huge empty place has been left behind in our family.
Our mother died in faith, with dignity, in Christ. We lost a praying mother, but we have not lost her prayers. Matthew Henry said of parents that they could far better leave behind for their children a treasury of prayers than a treasury of gold and silver. We have been blessed in this way as children more than almost anyone else we know on this earth. What a treasury is laid up in store for us in the prayers of our dear mother and father! And what responsibility is now ours! The legacy, the heritage, the mantle is now passed on to us.
The testimonies of many who came to the visiting hours the evening of July 27 and the following day about my mother were humbling, encouraging, and sometimes tear-producing all at once. On Saturday, I conducted the funeral for my dear mother, preaching on John 14:1–3, the first text that the Lord made very special to her after he had begun to work savingly in her soul. It was difficult at the beginning to contain my emotions, but as the text unfolded before me, the Lord gave an increasing measure of liberty. How bittersweet that hour was!
Before the funeral, my brother Jim spoke to the family. My mother, who had been an only child, had five children, thirty-five grandchildren, ninety-two great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild—133 in all! Though a number of the great-grandchildren were not able to be present, the family gathering was still sizable. I spoke at the graveside from Revelation 21:5, followed by my oldest brother John, who also thanked various people, and closed with prayer, after which we sang Psalter 203 (Ps. 73), and then fellowshipped at the NRC Christian School in Kalamazoo.
The following morning I preached at Cornerstone United Reformed Church in Hudsonville, and in the evening at our own church, on Psalm 17:15, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”
Throughout the month of July—perhaps the busiest month of my life—I have felt the sustaining hand of God in an unusual way. He enabled me to preach thirty times on three continents, with about 25,000 in attendance in all. To Him be all the praise and the glory! May eternity reveal the fruit. I now look forward to a much more calm and restful August in Grand Rapids, the Lord willing.
We’ll miss our dear mother’s sweet smile, her kindness, her godliness. We’ll miss caring for her. Dad used to often say to us, “You will never be able to repay all that your mother has done for you.” By God’s grace, we count it an honor as a family that we could repay a little, so that through 24/7 care in recent years she could stay in her own home until the end, which was always her desire. But now, how shall we begrudge her her place at our dear father’s side singing praise to the Triune God without any infirmity? She is now in the church triumphant forever! Soli Deo Gloria!
May God prepare us all to meet Him clothed in the white-robe righteousness of Immanuel. Dear friend, if Christ were to send His angel of death to harvest you today, would it be eternally well with your soul? Are you resting for this life and a better in Christ’s righteousness alone?