I received a text just after church today. My friend Jon had lost his dad overnight. Cancer had been diagnosed, but this was still a surprise… too soon. Several weeks ago another family we love experienced the loss of wife and mother. Valerie went home to be with Christ for eternity! It is good news! But it is still hard to celebrate. Tom is still here; Diana, Laura, John and Matthew are still here. A young family. My boss… starting her visits with Sloan-Kettering to pursue the very real possibility of ovarian cancer. Unsaved. New friends, Chris & Janie… in the midst of this seeming horror.
How do I reconcile an eternal perspective with the very real and present earthbound impact of pain and suffering and loss?
I know God is glorified in these realities. Valerie and Tom are a clear example of God’s grace. God desires to redeem a lost people. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Is it strange that the Savior of the world would be so active at this season to bring to our minds… not the hype or the presents or the festivities of the Christmas season… but rather that He would bring us to consider the WHY of his coming… His Incarnation… God become Flesh. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to die for you and me.
Valerie! Talk about a restoring of the image-bearing intent of God in His creation… Valerie shone! She was a bright light in the middle of yuck. Cancer.. like sin is horrible. It steals, kills, destroys. Cells turning against their perfect intention, design and purpose. Oh! but God did not leave Valerie alone in this redemptive means. Val rejoiced in the Lord! Always, her reply and cry was repeated time and again, “God is good, all the time” “All the time, God is good.” I know this can be taken as a trite repetition of someone’s phrasing, but not with Val! She meant and reflected the truth of those words.
Tom. I met Tom several years ago when they first came to our church. Cop. Tough guy… sort of. Harley dude ; ] Tom is both stoic and also given to moist eyes. Tom is a man with a tender heart and I have been impacted many times by his life. Tom has physical challenges of his own right now, yet I’ve seen him growing up in Christ through these many years. His response, though it may falter on any given day, is an evidence of God’s grace in the life of every child of God. God reigns! And every child of God comes to know that in a very real and personal way. Tom is not the man I met several years ago. God has brought him through much and he is a wonderful image-bearer of God today.
So, as I look at what God is doing in His body, I have to wonder… will I stand or fall? If I am His, then I must and can accept all the means and ends that He chooses to use in my life to ready me for His kingdom. I feel surrounded by many painful situations. This alone is difficult. By God’s grace I will stand in all circumstances because of what Jesus Christ has done on my behalf.
I love the phrase, ‘life is a vapor’. I may not understand its depth, but I rest in its reality. Whatever God chooses for me in this life, this life… by His word, is brief… momentary. I rest in His grace, with a certainty that nothing I have is sufficient to stand in its place.