Last Friday, January 26, 2007, I attended what had to be the most beautiful funeral service I have ever attended. It was excruciatingly painful for those in attendance. I can’t even imagine the pain of the family involved. Joel Morris departed this life on Tuesday, January 23, 2007. He was three years old. You can read his story at this website: http://www.weloveyoujoel.blogspot.com.
Joel contracted a form of childhood cancer known as Nueroblastoma. He was diagnosed on December 5, 2006. On January 3, 2007 Joel entered a coma after suffering a reaction to seizure medication given him by the hospital. It was not long after that when the hospital declared him “brain dead.” However, Joel’s family, and his father in particular, did not accept that diagnosis. What happened next was 20 days of pain and anguish driven by a love for a son, and strength from the Lord God Jehovah. Joel’s father stayed by his side practically the entire time only breaking once in a while for a shower. He was fighting on two fronts: the medical and the legal side. Though the law tried to declare Joel “dead,” Joel’s little heart continued to beat, and Joel’s family fought for his life.
Our family prayed every night for Joel. My two year old Paton always prayed for Joel during our family worship time.
When Joel passed away we attended his funeral together as a family. What happened there amazed me and showed me just what a Godly Christian family looks like. Joel’s father and grandfather stood up to speak about Joel and read encouraging letters they had received from as far away as Iraq. They showed a slide show complete with music arranged and played by Joel’s brothers. Two of Joel’s older brothers and one of his older sisters played “It is Well With My Soul” on the piano, violin, and trumpet. Joel had 12 brothers and sisters. It was obviously that they all loved him very much. At every funeral I’ve ever been to, the family who has suffered the loss has always sat quietly by mourning their loss while those in attendance ministered to them. Yet, at this funeral, this family who was so weary from fighting for Joel’s life turned their attention to the family and guests at the funeral and reached out to minister to them.
This touched me beyond description. Joel’s family is now the subject of Paton’s prayers every night. I join with Paton in petitioning Father God on behalf of the Morris family, May He strengthen them and give them peace in the midst of this time of great loss. I only hope that we can get to know this remarkable family better over the course of time, as their homestead is not far at all from ours.