Doris Louella Finch Merritt (1925 – 2015)

Gen50_20_you-meant-evilFor years Genesis 50:20 has, in my mind, epitomized the theme of my grandmother’s life. She leaves behind a legacy of life but the legacy didn’t come cheap. She suffered for it. She had evil done to her in order to preserve life.

“Grandmother” as we called her (not Grandma or some such derivative) was a military wife with three children–my father, his sister, and his brother–none of them angelic. I’m still not certain on all the details but I think it was while my father was in college that my grandfather left the family for another woman eventually divorcing my grandmother.

It was a devastating betrayal. But to her dying day I never heard Grandmother say a bad word about her husband. Whenever the grandkids would ask questions about Grandfather and his Air Force career she always spoke of him in glowing terms. She never tried to excuse his sin but on the rare occasions in which she responded to it, she always expressed her sorrow for him–for him!–over what he lost by walking out.

This was not cheap talk. I remember riding with my grandmother as we discussed Romans 8 and Paul’s claim that the Spirit intercedes for us with “groanings to deep for words.” In a brief but poignant moment she acknowledged firsthand experience with a pain that reduced her “prayers” to inarticulate groaning. Her legacy did not come cheap.

But the suffering & wounds of a failed marriage were not in vain. Where sin abounded grace abounded even more. God’s grace took root in heart and brought slow healing. As His grace grew and choked out roots of bitterness in her heart, it sent runners out to her three children. The off-shoots of that work of grace took root in their hearts. In time His grace drew in three godly spouses and in the place of one failed marriage grew three thriving marriages.

Jesus said “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). That proverb was abundantly true for Grandmother. Three marriages brought about 16 grandchildren. Those 16 grandchildren have resulted in 11 more marriages (so far) which have produced 27 great-grandchildren (we anticipate cracking 30 before the year is over). The evil that Grandmother suffered has brought about “this present result.”

How do you measure the impact of 3 children, 16 grandchildren, and 27+ great-grandchildren? How much life has sprung up from the soil of her suffering? Every spiritual birth her family delivers and every blessing they bring is the enduring fruit of a woman who has now died.

God was so good to my grandmother. He gave her beauty for ashes and He changed her mourning into joy. She was blessed to see His goodness in the land of the living. But even if she had died with nothing to show for her suffering it still would not have been in vain. She knows that now.

The Mighty One has done great things for our grandmother, and Holy is His name. (Luke 1:49)

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Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

1 thought on “Doris Louella Finch Merritt (1925 – 2015)”

  1. Jonathan, Your sweet grandmother never missed an opportunity to minister encouragement to me during a dark time in my life. It meant so very much to me because I knew that she was sincere. She would whisper to me that she as praying…and I knew she knew exactly what I needed.

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