“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
It’s interesting the thoughts that probe at you, slipping in between grief, pain, and confusion. Once in a while, a thought of a different sort glides in sideways and slips into your thoughts.
Don’t waste your pain.
Your children are watching. Others are watching. Trust God now so that they will trust God with you and then later when it’s their turn. In a strange sort of way, you have been given an unwanted journey, and it’s your responsibility to steward it. You’ve been entrusted an important, life-shaping assignment. It’s life-shaping for you, but it’s also life-shaping for everyone else in your circle. You’re an example one way or the other. For ill or for good.
“Everyone helps his neighbor and says to his brother, ‘Be strong!’” Isaiah 41:6
I turned to someone the first week and told them I did not want to dishonor Kim, and I did not want to dishonor God. In a way, I was saying I didn’t want to fail this test, and I didn’t want to let people down. I didn’t want to mislead anyone. I didn’t want to paint a picture of God and his trustworthiness that wasn’t true.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial….” James 1:12
Others were indeed watching, but so is God. He is El Roi, the God who sees me; he is the God who is watching. He knows he is enough. He watches me to make sure I know he is enough. Will I remain steadfast under the weight of this tragic trial? Will I stand the test? He has promises he will keep. He will comfort others through my testimony of his faithfulness.
Children and other family members are watching. Responding well will build faith in them. In no way is this responsibility on my shoulders alone. Each one of us has a responsibility to respond. However, the question was—Would I do my part and respond in humility? Would I trust God? Would I embrace this unwanted journey and respond to him in faith?
“…it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2
Friends and work associates—whether men or women—are also watching. A loss is not for a grieving husband alone. A loss is not only my loss, it’s our loss. A loss can shake up a community, and how I respond can have positive or negative ramifications.
In my world, missionaries across the world knew of my loss. I felt a sense of stewardship with my loss in the lives of numerous marriages. Anytime I had an opportunity, I challenged colleagues to live with their wives in an understanding way. I challenged them to show honor to each other as equal heirs. I challenged them to love each other. I challenged them to not take each other for granted.
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
Who doesn’t want their prayers answered?
It’s true, I was overwhelmed, but he is trustworthy. He could and would empower me to live this journey as I stewarded my experience. I couldn’t change what had happened. However, I could determine how I would respond by his grace.
I was being assaulted on every side, but I was overcome by grace and provision for me. I have everything I need to walk by faith.
Now here’s a worthy aspiration for us: Let’s steward our experience in a way that others can imitate.
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Philippians 3:17