She Is Now Gone – The Comfort of God’s Word

God sustains us in the most difficult of times:

Some 55 hours ago my wonderful wife was promoted to heavenly glory after much suffering and pain. Her 18-month battle with cancer finally came to an end. I and others are supremely glad that she is now with the Lord. We are also supremely sad that she is no longer with us. Her father is still alive, and she would have turned 66 next month.

It was a long and difficult journey, and the past few weeks were especially the hardest for us all. But now she is with the one known as the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). Jesus had been right with her throughout this entire journey. Now she is with him forever, along with her mother (who passed away in the same cancer ward 11 years ago), and others. Sooner or later I will join them.

To be so close with someone for 41 ½ years of marriage (out of 70 ½ years), and then to suddenly lose them is quite tough indeed. At the moment there is a settled peace (or perhaps numbness), but the tears will keep flowing, as they have been. But we serve a “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) and he has comforted me, her and others on this long and painful journey.

Obviously my daily Scripture reading – along with the prayers, help, support and consolation of others – was my mainstay. Given that I recently started a new section of “Quotations” on this site, it is fitting that the most important quotes from the most important book by the most important author be featured here.

During these toughest and hardest past weeks I happened to be in the book of Psalms. It is both a hymnal and a place of rich worship. The psalms touch upon all aspects of life, and are as glaringly realistic as they are wonderfully soothing. So I have been recording some of these psalms as I have gone through this period with Averil.

Three or four weeks before she left us, Psalm 31:9-10 stood out to me. It may not be specifically about cancer, but it seemed to apply to our situation (including the part about bones literally wasting away):

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
    and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
    and my bones waste away.

On June 17 I certainly noticed Psalm 42:3. I wrote it down and shared it on the social media, saying: “Some of you know what this is talking about: ‘My tears have been my food day and night’.” And I shared this on June 20: “Some of you can relate to Psalm 55:17: ‘Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress’ – but it goes on to say this: ‘and he hears my voice’.”

A few weeks before her passing this passage from Psalm 61:1-2 also seemed to be quite appropriate:

Hear my cry, O God,
    listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I.

Earlier this week when she was in her last stages of life, I read Psalm 102:1-7. As I read it I wondered if it applied more to her or to me. Both actually:

Hear my prayer, Lord;
    let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
    when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
    when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
    my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
    I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
    and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
    like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become
    like a bird alone on a roof.

All I could do at the time was call out to God and ask, ‘How long, O Lord?’

And this from Psalm 116:1-8

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;

our God is merciful.

The Lord preserves the simple;

when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return, O my soul, to your rest;

for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling;

It goes on to say this in verse 15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” What an amazing thing to know, especially at a time like this.

The last two verses of Psalm 118 (vv. 28-29) are always something we can cling to:

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God; I will extol you.
Oh give thanks to the
Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

And finally this passage from Psalm 125:1-2:

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the
Lord surrounds his people,
    from this time forth and forevermore.

And of course many mornings this classic text from Lamentations 3:22-23 sprang to mind:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end.
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

On a journey like this it is certainly one day at a time, so to have a glorious promise like that to hold onto is precious indeed.

Let me share one more thing if I may. When I left her hospital room Wednesday morning for the last time (around 3am), I went to bed at 4:30. I was exhausted of course, and I cried out to the Lord, asking him if there was anything he might want to say to me.

I sensed him saying that he is holding me in his arms right now, just like he is holding Averil in his arms right now. That was a blessing and reassuring, and I soon dozed off. Of real interest, around 15 hours later a good friend, champion prayer warrior, and dedicated intercessor in Canberra texted me.

She was grieving for me and said she had asked the Lord how she could pray for me. She said he gave her Jeremiah 31:3, and she said, “I saw the Father with His strong everlasting arms holding you like our Great Shepherd deeply concerned for you.” Wow, that certainly goes right along with what the Lord had told me earlier.

She said she also got Hosea 11:4 and Psalm 23. Here are those three texts:

Jeremiah 31:3  the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.


Hosea 11:4 I led them with cords of kindness,
    with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
    and I bent down to them and fed them.


Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

   He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
   He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Many thanks for that Hilary – God does indeed speak one way or another to his people, especially in their time of greatest need.

There are many other passages that have helped sustain me along the way. More will be shared in the days ahead. A million thanks to all of you who have prayed for Averil and myself, and have shared words of support and comfort, and have helped in so many ways, including material helps such as delivering a meal or sending flowers.

Your love and kindness will not go unnoticed by our Lord. Bless you.

[1465 words]

52 Replies to “She Is Now Gone – The Comfort of God’s Word”

  1. Wonderfully written, Bill. Heaven is a world of love, said Jonathan Edwards. Think of where Averil is more than where we are.

  2. Bless you for sharing your journey. It’s a great reassurance the way the Lord works among His people.

  3. My deepest condolences for your loss but you well know that it is but a brief parting and reunification will be eternal.
    John Abbott

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. You have my deepest condolences and prayers.

  5. God bless you Bill for helping even when you are hurting

    In your grief I think it was Bunyon that wrote

    In our prayers better a heart with no words than words with no heart

    God bless you

  6. Bill, weeping with sadness but JOY abounds…
    The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh.
    Blessed be the name of The Lord.
    Love always in Jesus Precious Name,

  7. Amen Bill Amen. Death does us no harm. We go home to our heavenly Father.

  8. I pray for ongoing peace and comfort, for you as you grieve the passing of your wife!

  9. Bill, you have been steadfast in the Lord in all things. There is no doubt that He will be steadfast for you now.


  10. Deepest condolences to you Bill and family;and also to Averil’s father. Thinking of you all and praying for continued comfort from our God who knows everything.

  11. Bill, may the God of all grace be your abiding comfort today and always. Be assured of our continuing prayers.
    Psalm 16 verse 11.
    In Christ,
    John Cromarty

  12. Praying for you Bill. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted!

  13. We love you Bill, I can offer no more words of condolence or comfort than what you have already expressed from the Word. We weep with you and we rejoice with you. We may be many miles apart now, but I truly look forward to meeting you and Averil in His presence. Praise His name!

  14. Thank you for sharing Averil with us all.

    Cheers & blessings to you and all family.

    Eric & Kate

  15. I’m so sorry Bill, deepest condolences to you and your family, praying for peace and comfort at this difficult time. Thank you for sharing, it was beautifully written.

  16. Dear Bill,
    Your words of daily encouragement and reliance on God and his word have been such a comfort to me over the years. I pray that as you continue to look to the Lord, he will give you all you need. How precious that God speaks to us in various ways and has given you a real sense of his presence. May he continue to gather you close and grant you peace. What beautiful verses to reflect on day by day. Kind regards, Marianne

  17. Dear Bill, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. For me it has taken so much of the sting out of death. Not to say it doesn’t hurt. I have been howling tears with you. Somehow LIFE overshadows it. Its like living in two worlds at once. How faithful is our God. How loving. This makes Him so much more REAL.
    As you grieve, may He continue to hold you palpably. Psalm 139 comes to mind. “… and You are intimately acquainted with all my ways…) vs3b. All we can do … is Worship xx

  18. My prayers and God’s love are are for you at this time of immeasurable loss.
    Much love, Henri and Jenny

  19. Hi Bill,

    Firstly, thankyou for sharing your and Averil’s “journey” with us over the past few months. Having been through this with my beloved sister (not quite the same I know) who went to be with the Lord two years ago, I have some sense of what you are feeling right now.

    No words can really convey our thoughts but please accept our sincere condolences and know that, along with many others I’m sure, Julie and I will keep you in our prayers as you navigate the next steps.

    God bless you faithful man of God.

  20. Sincere condolences, Bill.
    But we also share in the hope and joy of eternal life with our “Saviour, Brother, Friend “ (John Newton). Kindest regards

  21. I have been praying daily for both of you ever since hearing of you both having cancer. Your posts about Averil’s passing are very moving. Praise God that “Underneath are the Everlasting arms” Deuteronomy 32:27. Just want to send you love and every blessing from myself and my husband, Peter. We met you in Perth some time in 2007 – 2008.

    Katharine Hornsby

  22. My sympathy at your great loss. God is with you and will continue to guide and comfort you. “God himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21: 3-4)

  23. Our deepest sympathy to you, Bill. Thank you for sharing the way the Lord has shown His deep love for you at this time through all these relevant and beautiful Scriptures.

  24. Dear Bill, my heart is so grieved and sad for you and all in your family and life who knew and loved Averil…I am so sorry to hear she has gone…though I think of her going to the Father and being ushered into Heaven by the angels and into Jesus Presence,
    I grieve that you both are not together here on earth – and know there would be a gut wrenching pain as the ‘two become one’ in marriage. (I know you will have read CS Lewis experience when eh lost his wife…though each person grieves differently too) I thank God for Averil and you and all you did together. Your love and dedication each other and to God
    Many will be praying for you and have been, as dear Hilary has, interceding faithfully.
    I have prayed since you shared the news of Averil and wanted to express my sorrow and thoughts many times but have had to just leave the at Gods throne as you have had enough to cope with each day.
    May these verses be of comfort;
    ‘Precious in the eyes of God is the death of His saints’
    ‘In My Fathers house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you’ John 14
    ‘I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband… Look God’s dwelling place is now among the people. Rev 21.2. ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things as passed away.’ Rev 21.4
    For now there may be much loss and grief and sadness as your dear wife is no longer beside you…may God hold you tight in His arms of love and many gather around you to comfort you …and Gods Holy spirit sustain you – as He did with the angels in Gethsemene
    May God grant beautiful memories to sustain you ss well…and always bathe you in His deep peace.
    ‘Behold I am with you unto the end of the age’ ‘ Matt 28
    I am sorry you have had to go through this loss…Love in Christ, Gail

  25. Bill, I read but rarely comment. I am moved to do so now. I am so sorry for your loss but I am thankful for your faith. It will sustain you and comfort you in your grief. As I’ve known others in your situation, I can sense the loss you’re feeling and know it’s a void that will be impossible to fill. The pain of losing someone is the price we pay for loving so intensely. I’ll be in prayer for you.

  26. Dear Bill, it has been very moving to read your thoughts and feelings of the journey with your beloved wife, for sharing so openly. The comfort of knowing she is with her Lord, the peace you have that you will see her again, will not stop your grief, though it will not a hopeless grieving. May you and your family be strengthened and sustained by, and enfolded in, His might, loving arms. God bless you.

  27. May the Lord continue to comfort and sustain you, Bill, with His all-sufficient love and grace and peace. Shalom alekha.

  28. Bill, thank you so much for sharing your heart and your journey with us! I feel I’m better equipped to face loss and grief, with hope in the Lord’s comfort, going forward.

  29. I am deeply sorry for your loss. But grieving is natural and healthy even though there are Christians in the world who seem to think you should just be happy and celebrate because we know where the loved one is so we know they aren’t lost in the eternal sense. But God made us a beings that make connections that fall in love and that marry. While or friend or loved one may not be lost eternally since they are in heaven they aren’t here with us so we feel a loss. That loss is real and grieving is appropriate after all funerals are more for the living than the dead. They help in the grieving process and allow people to know a person as greatly as the closest person to them did.

    Grieving takes different amounts of time for different people but when done you will have joy again and speak fondly and wonderfully about them. Grieving shouldn’t be rushed but also shouldn’t be prolonged. If you let Jesus guide you through this grieving landscape it will take only the time it should no more no less. Death is part of life in a fallen world but only the Christian has assurances of his destination after death. That can be a great aid in our grieving as Jesus reminds us of his sacrifice to pay for sin so our loved one could be in heaven and so we when our time comes could join them there. May God grant you peace and understanding in this difficult time and bring you through your grief as strong or stronger.

  30. “she was grieving for me”.
    What glorious perspective. And of course, love. And the Shepherds arms of care, of which you both witnessed.

    ‘The Word of God abides forever,that word we have believed’

    Thank you for sharing lament and joy, loss and gain with us dear bro

  31. Bill, I wept with gratitude when I saw your latest letter. Please remember, though, that you may need to take quiet time for yourself and reflect on what has happened and seek solace and comfort from our Heavenly Father. It may be because I’m a Catholic, but in my own journey saying goodbye to my own husband Ernest, I have found great consolation and beauty in my own tradition’s contemplative prayer heritage. Actually, I was stunned to see that we have both sought out the same biblical verses for assistance during these dark nights of the soul! Thank you for sharing your time of trial and consolation while Averil was preparing to be reborn into Paradise. It is a precious, precious resource those of us going through our own ordeals. You are helping so many people through talking about your faith journey.

  32. Bill, I write this with tears in my eyes, sadness for your loss but at the same time joy for where she is now. As Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. May He bless and comfort you brother.

  33. I’m so sorry for your loss, Bill. Praying for you and your family at this sad time.

  34. In all this, your testimony of faith is so strong and encouraging. I am personally inspired by how you allowed us to see your heart in all weathers and storms and asked us to journey along. I would say “God be with you,” but I see how much He is already. God bless all your family and those you love.

  35. May the Lord’s joy be so real to you, Bill, in the midst of what you are walking through. As you experience His comfort, may His joy overflow in your heart, lifting you and strengthening you.

    The Lord bless and keep you.

  36. Dear Bill, We are very sad for the passing away of your beloved wife. We are deeply sorry for your great loss. Yet, we are so touched by your strong faith and trust in the Lord. We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Pray that God’s peace rules in your heart and God’s eternal hope comforts and upholds you at this most difficult and challenging time.

    “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my forress, I will not be shaken. … He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times… pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalms 62: 5-8)

  37. Regrets…

    Your strength in recent years has been/is exemplary
    To maintain love, sense and judgment in “tough” times is fantastic..


  38. Brother Bill,
    We know you know these truths, but may they continue to sustain you: Hebrews 12:23, Luke 23:43, Philippians 1:23 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14 taken together assure us that ‘the souls of believers are, at their death, made perfect in holiness and immediately pass into glory, while their bodies, being thus united to Christ, rest in their graves till the resurrection’.
    In PNG Pidgin English ‘peace’ is ‘stap isi’; may the Lord enable you to ‘stap isi’.

  39. Our deepest sympathy to you, Bill. We pray that peace of God rules in your heart and God’s living hope comforts and upholds you, Bill, family and friends. God bless.

  40. She has fought the good fight, she’s finished the race, and kept the faith. Now there is in store for her the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to her on this day—and not only to her, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

    I’m sure Paul will not mind me adapting his words.

  41. I am praying for you and your family. I appreciate how you are living out this beautiful part of life in front of the body of Christ. Thank you!

  42. I have not been tested as you have, but one thing God has shown me is this… when loved ones die in the Lord, they are then able to be closer to us than when here in the flesh, as they are with Jesus, and He has promised to be with us, closer than hands and feet and nearer than breathing.
    Averil is wonderfully close to those who live her and who love Jesus.

  43. You are much loved and appreciated Bill, and so many hearts are grieved for all Averil and you have endured. Thinking of you and praying for you Brother.

  44. I am so, so sorry Bill.
    Matthew 5:4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.’

  45. So sorry for you Bill. Our hearts go out to you. May the Lord quickly heal the rawness of it all and bring sweet memories to cheer and comfort you. We are treading a similar path at this time and are so aware of both the goodness of God and the searing pain that sin has brought into this earthly life.
    The world is evil in so many respects, Praise God for His redemptive work on the cross and the sure hope of eternal life without pain and suffering. Our love and sincerest sympathy. Lesley & John.

  46. Dear Bill, with all the others, deepest condolences to you and family. Although I’d met your fellow-worker in the faith, Warwick, many years back, in Perth, I’d not met you, but heard much of your ministry over a long period of time. We know that God is pleased with the sacrifices of His servants & rejoices over us with singing. What a blessed consolation & to re-phrase the old saying, “In the midst of death, we are in LIFE !” Ebenezer!

  47. I received the email about this being posted on July 6th @ 8:28 pm central daylight time meaning if there wasn’t a whole lot of time from writing to posting she died on July 4th USA time her own Independence Day! I think you mentioned she was Australian so this is a fitting date for the wife of a Yank!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *