From the Preacher’s Pen…
One of the great blessings of God’s family is seeing that family sincerely pull together in hard times. In this world of sin and death, we have so very many opportunities to show the love of our Father. And none is more precious than when we share burdens simply because we are family.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve rejoiced together as Joe and Christopher put on their Lord in baptism. We’ve shared the burdens of a brother as he struggled with his life and service to the Lord. And we’ve shared in losses, at least in this present world, of one of our own in the congregation and another their close family member. Consider a bit of God’s perspective on…
Losing a Loved One
Loss of a loved one is something that every person either knows from experience or will know sometime during their life. It hurts, even for Christians, it is always painful to lose someone you know and love.
God understands that pain and that loss. Can we even begin to imagine what it was like for the Father to see Jesus die on that cross? How could God destroy the earth for the sinfulness of people (cf. Genesis 6:5) in the flood and not annihilate those mocking and murdering His Son?
The only answer to such a question is that God loved us, really loved us! (cf. John 3:16) What amazing love that God could give us such a gift! So, when we deal with loss we need to begin with the reminder that God truly does understand our pain. And God goes to great lengths to try and explain to us that this pain, horrible as it is, is not the whole story.
In 1 Corinthians 15:55 Paul would concede that death is a sting; a sting brought on by sin; sin that was introduced into this world by Satan. But that sting is overwhelmed, literally devoured by victory in Jesus. That is a picture worth hanging on to by God’s people!
While Jesus gave us a tiny glimpse of “Paradise” in Luke 16:19ff, Paul says that, at least from the standpoint of the living, it compares to sleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) with the real focus on resurrection, reunion and being with Jesus at His return. Both Jesus and Paul are trying to get us that remain to remember that the faithful child of God has nothing to fear in death. Or, as Paul would even more bluntly state it, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
Consider one more lesson, this time from David. For many years David was the God chosen, anointed king of Israel while an ungodly man remained on the throne. Many times David faced death from both Saul and from all the external enemies of God’s people. On one of those occasions, as David had to pretend to be insane to escape death at the hands of Abimelech the Philistine king, a Psalm was born.
Psalm 34 is written to recall the sheer terror of facing death, the heartbreak of being alone and, above all else, the always present reality of God being with us! Given those circumstances, given all that horror of loss and great misery, how would you begin the story?
David begins it like this: I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth… O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:1, 3). Death and loss, misery and despair are not the ordinary human companions of praise and worship. But then again, God’s people are not ordinary humans!
Notice just a few of David’s other proclamations in this Psalm: I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears (34:4). O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the person who takes refuge in Him! (34:8) The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry (34:15). The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (34:17-19)
Yes, our God understands about losing a loved one. Our God has promised to always, ALWAYS be there with us no matter how hard it seems, how broken-hearted we are. And above all else, our God has promised to help us through those trials and deliver us from all our troubles.
Trust the Lord your God! Hold tightly to Him who loves you and will keep you in His care!
— Lester P. Bagley