Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reflections for April 1, 2010

"Joy or Grief"

This past week has brought forth a flood of emotions. On Sunday in our church, a man who had not walked without a cane since 1978 and had not walked at all outside of his house since 1989, walked unassisted to the front of the church and helped to take up our offering. On Monday morning, we received an email from one of our dearest friends telling us that his oldest son (40 years old) had succumbed to the cancer that had plagued him for the past year. Both of these families love our Lord. Yet circumstances dictate that one face this week with great joy and the other with hearts filled with sorrow and loss.

The first gentleman had endured four previous surgeries and none had relieved the problem. Because of the four unsuccessful surgeries, he was hesitant to consider another attempt. Finally, after the pain became unbearable, he gave permission to the surgeon to proceed and he turned the results over to the Lord. While the world may give credit to the surgeon for the operations success, the family understands that the ultimate praise belongs to our Lord. The surgeon may have held the scalpel but I am convinced God guided the hand.

The second family had stood closely by and ministered to their eldest son’s needs for the past year. They too had prayed for God’s healing but physical healing had not come. Their consolation was when the end came, it came without struggle. Their son spoke clearly to his brother who was sitting by his side and then slipped into eternity. Their second consolation was they knew he had a home waiting for him in heaven. For him, it was not an ending but a new beginning. For them, it was hearts filled with deep sorrow and loss and the question, why did it have to end this way? Why could he not have lived?

Here within twenty-four hours my wife and I witnessed two heart touching moments. The first was one of great joy. It is easy to respond to such a situation. It is a time of joy. It is a time to give thanks unto God and to praise Him for His goodness. It is a time to marvel at His greatness. It is a time to rejoice with a family who was experiencing something I believe can be described as a miracle. Words are not hard to come by in circumstances such as this.

The second was totally different. Most words seem trite. People find it hard to say anything but feel uncomfortable being silent. In their quandary they sometimes say things that sting the heart more than comfort it, that raise more questions than they answer. It is at times such as these that less words are normally the better choice. When the fog of shock and loss has begun to lift, the family will remember your presence more than anything you might say.

Knowing how shallow words can sound at a time such as this, I prayed for God to show me something to share. I picked up a copy of Streams in the Desert, compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman. I opened it randomly and found myself at the words written for July 19. As I read, I believe God provided words to share. Here is a portion of that day’s contribution:

The most comforting of David’s psalms were pressed out by suffering;
and if Paul had not had his thorn in the flesh we had
missed much of that tenderness which quivers in so many of his letters.

The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ),
is the best shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity.
Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.

Strange and difficult indeed
We may find it,
But the blessing that we need
Is behind it.
The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

While they may not be ready to hear it, the family who is now drowning in the cauldron of sorrow may have the greater blessing. I say this because it is at the bottom of our deepest grief that we have the greatest opportunity to encounter the loving touch of the one who gave His own Son that we might someday spend eternity with Him. He too understands the immense pain of seeing His son suffer.

1 comment:

  1. Dennis, I pray that both families will read this. I found it very comforting and will want you around when I have a such a significant loss or miracle! Love you! Judy (your sister-in-law)