Living and dying in hope

From inside the old church building, you hear a car crunch to a halt. The driver is reputedly rather firm on the brakes. A minute or so later a 5-foot 4-inch woman comes through the small side door and sits down in a pew. It is the Queen coming unannounced to join the local congregation of Sandringham Church for the Sunday service, as she often does when she is in residence on the Sandringham Estate. There’s no chauffeur, no ceremony, no fuss. She often doesn’t even sit in the special seat that only she can occupy but simply sits in one of the pews at the front. She comes in the side door because she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself. But she does want to go to church. Not because she is expected to, not because she needs to be seen, but because she wants to be there. Her trust in Jesus Christ is central to her.

Every day of her long life, the Queen lived in dependence on God’s wisdom, grace, and strength. In 2002 she said, “I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”

Although she lived a long life the Queen knew that one day she would die, and she had prepared for it. At Easter 2020, during the pandemic, she said, “Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this. As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater.”

So on the day she walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and breathed her last, she did so in hope. Psalm 23 was one of her favourite passages in the Bible. In that darkest of all valleys the Lord, her Shepherd, was with her as he had promised. Her Lord’s goodness and mercy had followed her all the days of her life and he had promised that she, and all who trust in him, “will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” With the Apostle Paul the Queen, as a disciple of Jesus, could say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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