“Older men are to be sober-minded…sound in faith…and in steadfastness.” Titus 2:2
In the early days, I was trying to make sense of everything—I needed clarity. I had to address details, host the gift of visitors, and all the while try to wrap my mind around everything swirling around me.
Here are four truths I embraced, pressed into, and trusted as I began to make sense of it all:
- God is the author of life—Death is a consequence of the Fall of Man. God is able to intervene, but he does not always choose to do so. We can question him and his ways all we want. However, second-guessing does no good whatsoever. Ignore this truth, and it will send you down all sorts of unhelpful roads. I have heard it said that sovereignty does not eliminate calamity.
- The Fall of Man in Genesis is real—We live in the middle of time before God makes all things new. We love to talk about and study the New Heavens and New Earth. But these are future promises. We live now and are still under the impact of the Fall of Man. As Ligon Duncan has written, “Not everyone gets a happy ending in a fallen world…” Life is, therefore, full of pain and loss.
- Temporal experiences must be kept in eternal perspective—A shocking experience such as the death of a loved one focuses your attention on the here-and-now. I remember repeating often that my micro-story is tragic, but my macro-story is still beautiful. Temporal loss must be connected back to the arc of God’s redemptive story. It takes intentionality. Every experience—joyful or sad—is a sub-story in the arc of history. Perspective matters. Setting temporal loss in eternity’s perspective delivers clarity. Death is a universal experience for humanity. But eternity is coming.
- God is not a respecter of persons—Fairness comes up a lot during loss. I was reminded God doesn’t choose favorites. He is not a respecter of persons. The Bible is clear that the rain falls on the just and the unjust and that the sun rises on the good and the evil. We do not have some special immunity when it comes to facing loss. There are consequences that come with living in a fallen world. Our role is to walk by faith.
“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45
“…God shows no partiality.” Romans 2:11
As I was seeking clarity, I reread Both Feet In, a book Kim wrote as the ghostwriter. One morning tears flowed as I came across these beautiful, clarifying words by Bud Fray (and Kim):
“It is hard to understand why God chooses to physically heal some and not others. Over the years, untimely death was a common occurrence in the surrounding villages [in Zimbabwe] and when asked why, my answer was usually feeble at best. However, I knew God was my strong tower and my hiding place. What does that mean and how did this apply to this important question? Our refuge must be the sovereignty of our Almighty Father. The sovereign knowledge, sovereign truth, and sovereign love of God are always in place and never fail. He can be and must be trusted. When we don’t understand His knowledge, truth, or love in circumstances, illness, or death, we wait in our Refuge and trust His heart. There is peace and contentment there. His love never fails—neither do His purposes or promises. We wait as He works all things for good according to His love, purposes, and promises. Our prayers and His promises will be accomplished for good. Wait, be strong, and take courage are our instructions.”
Clarity during grief is of paramount importance. Therefore, press into these four lessons: 1. God is the author of life; 2. The Fall of Man in Genesis is real; 3. Temporal experiences must be kept in eternal perspective; and 4. God is not a respecter of persons.
Wait. Be strong. Take courage.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage…” Psalm 27:14