Precious.

Many people are asking why God decided to take precious little Manuel home to be with Him in heaven yesterday. He was born so early, yet had managed to fight so strong for so long. He had so many victories. We have watched him grow these past ten weeks.
We thought he was going to make it through. We hoped he would grow up and lead a “normal” life. But, then again, nothing about this little boy is normal.
He has made us laugh. He has made us cry. He has taught so many what it means to be loved. He’s taught us how to love.
Everything about him is precious. Yesterday I got to feel his tiny fingers wrapped around my finger. I watched the pure joy of his brothers, mother and father holding him. I too got to hold him for what will be the first and last time in this life. He was so small. So vibrant. So full of life!
When holding and watching him, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the 139th Psalm, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works!” (Psalm 139:13-14, ESV)
In asking God, “why,” I am drawn to another psalm. Psalm 116. We sang a portion of this psalm in worship today. This was our offertory, sung just before the service of the sacrament:
“12 What shall I render to the LORDManuel
for all his benefits to me?
17 I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the LORD.
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and will call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD now
in the presence of all his people.
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.”
This is a wonderful song of hope and salvation.
But if you didn’t notice, verses 15 and 16 are missing. These are the verses I am drawn to after the loss of little Manuel:
“15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.” (ESV)
These verses bring great comfort to those who love Manuel. We feel sadness and loss because God has removed him from our company. But Manuel is now surrounded by a most glorious company. He has been transferred from God’s kingdom of grace to God’s kingdom of glory. We are told this is, “precious in the sight of the Lord!”
It is precious to us as well because in glory, Manuel’s many conditions and health issues will be fully healed by the power of Christ’s resurrection. His body awaits the day that Jesus will return and he will be raised perfectly healthy. To us, it seems like we are to be separated for a long time. But to Him, time is nothing. Time no longer matters in the place of eternal day.
Spiritually, his soul is already in the Lord’s presence. Since He now sees His Savior face to face, he is in some ways more alive than we who are left behind! He isn’t an angel.  He is a redeemed little boy. Now he can play and pray, sing and dance, laugh and rejoice in God’s loving embrace.
All this was made possible by His Savior, who walked through death before him. On the cross of Jesus, Manuel’s sin was forgiven. His death died. The pain and suffering of this world came to nothing. His bonds were loosed. All of the good God has done for Manuel brings his brothers and sisters in Christ towards acknowledging that yes, just as Manuel is precious, his entrance into glory is also precious.
We pray for those who love and miss Manuel. We also do well to continue to pray for his big brother Marcello. We ask the Lord to continue to use mommy, daddy, the nurses, doctors and His holy angels to protect and prosper Marcello. We don’t yet know what the Lord’s will for Marcello is, but we rest confident in God’s unending love and power to save.
We have reason to cry because we already miss Manuel. But we weep as people who have hope. I will see Manuel in glory. But when I do, he may be showing me the way. Again. Precious.

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