Yet, tonight, my heart stings. In addition to the passing Monday of our friend Sweeney, we lost another friend (who also happens to be our accountant) to cancer this morning. He was a 38 year old father of three. He loved his family and he loved his Lord. Next week I will attend services two days in a row for men my age.
I absolutely know that both Mike & Shane are healed and whole for eternity. This faith makes the process of grieving them easier. Truly, we do not mourn as those who have no hope. Yet, my little town is full of people tonight who are sad because we have lost great friends. We rejoice for them and mourn for those left behind.
I sincerely hope this isn't misconstrued as somehow sacrilegious or lacking in faith. My heart's intent is neither. I am just being honest. Death has indeed lost its eternal sting, but I think there is a bit of earthly sting left behind. My heart feels like there is anyway.
As I was writing, I stopped to deal with some of my sadness with God. I picked up Trusting God Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges. These two passages jumped right out of the book:
"Our greatest need is not freedom from adversity. All the possible calamities that could occur in this life cannot in any way be compared with the absolute calamity of eternal separation from God. So when John said that God showed His love by sending His Son, he was saying God showed His love for us by meeting our greatest need--a need so great that no other need can even come close to it in comparison. Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God's love for us."
"Any time that we are tempted to doubt God's love for us, we should go back to the Cross. We should reason somewhat in this fashion: If God loved me enough to give His Son to die for me when I was His enemy, surely He loves me enough to care for me now that I am His child. Having loved me to the ultimate extent at the Cross, He cannot possible fail to love me in my times of adversity. Having given such a priceless gift of His Son, surely He will also give all else that is consistent with His glory and my good."
He's God. I am not. He has plans. He is Sovereign. He is trustworthy. He paid the ultimate price for me. He conquered death. He can handle this.
Thank you, Lord, that you are consistent, loving and worthy to be praised. I need to be reminded of Your position--and mine. Thank you for hearing the cries of your people and sending Your comfort.
Thank you, even, for this sting that reminds me to take life and death seriously. Eternity is at stake.
Thank you for the indisputable, incomprehensible gift of your Son. Thank you, this week, for the reminder that You have indeed conquered death.