A Time To Mourn

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Devotionals, Shared Thoughts
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Written by Rhonda…

Tragedy comes in many forms. It can strike by attacking your finances, your marriage, your home or even your family. It’s rather like that “mayhem” commercial we see where he comes to visit at most unexpected times.  It is my belief that God puts within us a homing beacon, a compass that points to Him during these difficult times.  After all, we know that when it comes to knowing of His existence we are without excuse.

  • Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

God doesn’t try to hide from us, or conceal Himself in such mystery that we’re left isolated and in confusion.  No, He is there quietly watching and waiting for us to turn to Him in everything, and to let Him prove how He has always been there waiting for us.

The death of a loved one is a time when we reflect on the meaning of life. It’s a time when we naturally think of the afterlife and its implications. Many times the death is a result of natural causes after a long life blessed with rewards.  “She lived such a full life, bless her heart,” is a sentiment often heard at funerals. And, in this instance, while we mourn the death of our loved one, we reflect on a lifetime of memories with both joy and sadness. In such a time we draw close to the Lord, standing firm on our belief that we believe.

There are other times, however, when the death is unexpected, violent, and senseless; when life’s routine steps toward an anticipated peaceful separation of our loved ones is abruptly shredded into oblivion by sudden chaos filled with questions and agony.  The impact can be so powerful that we are ripped from our surroundings and frozen in time. An unexpected tragedy makes us invisible, unreachable and immobile.  We wonder how the world can continue turning while our loved one lays dead.  It is in this act of separation that triggers our brain to flash through certain moments in history to reserve in a special place in our hearts, ever ready for a quick review when sights, smells or sounds pull us backwards. Then, throughout the rest of our lives, instantly and fleetingly, the past visits the present.

Those of you who have lost someone close to you through a senseless act of violence know what I’m talking about. Simple sounds or smells can transport us back to where we’re holding our baby, or dressing them for the first day of school, or helping them get ready for their first date. Once, on a normal day of shopping I slipped on a leather coat and was suddenly standing in his front yard, hugging him goodbye for the last time. I recall with clarity the strength in the hug, the sound of the wind in the trees, and the smell of his coat. It was the day after his wedding and I was leaving him to begin his new life, in his new home.

From our limited human perspective, untimely deaths will never make sense.  But thankfully, because of the built in compass that I mentioned before, things that make no sense somehow turn our thoughts toward God. Perhaps it is that “measure of faith” given to every person that scripture speaks of and our willingness to use it that determines our response to Him.

  • Ro 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Throughout the word God gives us examples of various people exposed to difficult times. We are given the eagle eye view to see how the people responded and the resulting consequence. In one such instance we see the Israelites when they failed to cross into the Promised Land due to their unbelief. The consequence was forty years of desert sand and dying in the wilderness. The people feared the giants and let that difficult situation test their belief in God.  I have not read an instance where God sat with the people and said, “You don’t have to do it. I know of your weaknesses and your difficult situation. Maybe there’s an easier way.” No. Though He certainly does comfort us in situations that seem insurmountable, He fully expects us to have the faith and the belief to overcome.  Jesus rebuked those He called and loved several times by saying, “Oh ye of little faith.”

Is it any different for us, when our world dissolves around us and it’s easy to shake our fists at God and ask, “Why my child God?”  It’s easy to question the very fabric that has woven our lives together with others.  And I want to tell you that it is those events that leave us fully exposed. When all external factors are removed – family, friends, entertainment, job, daily routines –  when even our flesh and bone is stripped away leaving only a beating, quivering heart before God – then and only then do we know of our response to God. Do we believe? Do we have faith? Do we really believe that He knows our end from our beginning, that He literally stands before us, that He has this thing all figured out?  Do we really trust Him and accept that one day there will be no more tears?

It’s easier to have faith when the earthquake happens in another country, when the fire destroys a neighbor’s home, when the tsunami hits a different shore, when the car wreck impacts a different family.  But what if it’s our country, our home, our shore or our family? When our core is shaken will we stand?

We must grow our faith by soaking in the Word on a regular basis. That will sustain us through even the worse grief. He gives us more than we need in order to overcome. When our foundation is solid we can sit on the doorstep the morning after and witness the beauty of a sunrise and experience the joy of the Lord in our hearts, even while in our deepest agony.

Through my own personal tragedy I have become fully persuaded of these things, because my Lord was never more real to me than in my darkest hour. If we allow ourselves to seek Him during these times then we can clearly see how He is at work tending to us as a shepherd tends to his wounded lambs.  I recall standing behind our barn and throwing rocks until I damaged my shoulder. I didn’t understand and I said so with each throw. When I ran out of rocks I sank to the ground and cried out to God.   It was then that I remembered. I instantly recalled how I had been dreaming about my son every night in the weeks leading up to his death. Sweet, beautiful dreams of times past – memories of things long forgotten in this busy life. They were all of events that had truly happened. I knew, right there in that moment, that God had been preparing me for this trial.  He was insulating me from total destruction. He graciously reminded me of the joyous times that my son experienced in this life. He let me know that his life was valuable, that it had meaning, and that I was blessed to be a part of it.

That night as I lay in bed in a semi-awake state, a certain scripture kept running through my mind. My thoughts finally turned to other things. I tossed and turned for a couple more hours before giving up and going to the living room.  I picked up my bible, opened it at random, and glanced down at the page. The first scripture that I read was the very one that had been in my mind. In glorious amazement, I read the following:

  • 1Cor 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

I read the whole chapter, repeatedly, and was fully aware that the Comforter within was illuminating His word in my heart. It was a surreal moment that has anchored me these past eight years, encouraging me and gracing me with His peace.  He was with me in my hour of need.

  • 1Cr 15:13  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
  • 14   And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.
  • 15  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
  • 16   For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
  • 17   And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.
  • 18  Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
  • 19   If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
  • 20   But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept.

I am so thankful for the love, mercy and grace wherewith my Redeemer gently showed me how vitally important to place our focus on the One that overcame the grave. Because He lives, we too will resurrect from the dead. Because He lives we will one day have peace and joy eternal. Because He lives we have hope.

  • 1Cr 15:56  The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law.
  • 57   But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 58   Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

When dawn broke that morning I really was sitting on my front porch, witnessing the glorious spectacle of the most beautiful sunrise I’d ever seen. Because He lives…..

Live for the Resurrected King.

Comments
  1. I hope God grants you comfort in your time of mourning there.

    Like

  2. William E. Males says:

    And I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I speak a mystery to you; we shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in a glance of an eye, at the last trumpet. For a trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and when this mortal shall put on immortality, then will take place the word that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

    [Is this your victory cry brothers and sisters,] “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?”

    The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. So that, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not without fruit in the Lord.

    Like

  3. Doug says:

    Thank you, that means something to me right now

    Like

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