Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Providence, Job and sudden trials

As we continue to feel the effects of these past few days, and as our hearts go out to grieving folk in our church, I thought I'd share with you some of my own thoughts over these past few days as I have been shaken to the core and found myself hanging on to God's Word for encouragement in dark places. These are some of the things that I have found healing and hopeful and honoring to God:

  • As the the story of Job reminds us, sudden, devastating trials can befall the godliest of folk
  • The words of William Cowper's hymn: "God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform..." Couldn't help but think that the sight of all those young people around a grave yesterday brought growth and determination to serve God better. And that God allowed this for that purpose. Mystery! Yes, but good came out of it.
  • That the story of Joseph reminds us that God isn't doing things in isolation from other things. One event has a million ramifications and it will be like watching dominos fall as this event ripples on through the lives of God's people.
  • That it is so often true that what occurs in one can be for the sake of helping someone else. Joseph's trouble was for the good of others--his brothers especially. Naomi's pain brought gospel grace into the heart of Ruth. Death is at work in us so that life may be at work in you, Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor 4:12).
  • That things of this kind cause us to see how much we are dependent upon him. "We are not our own but belong body and soul unto him..." Calvin said in a very famous sentence in his Institutes. Sudden providences teach us that we are creatures and that God is God. His ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).
  • The fellowship of God's people is the most precious gift he has given to us. The church is the family of God and at no time was that more tangible than the sight of the elderly waiting in line for three hours to pay respects and give assurance of their love and care. It was a beautiful thing.
  • That what brings relief is God's inerrant Word. Rock certainty is what we need now and that is what the Bible gives us. Theological liberals have nothing to say in times like this.
  • The blood of Christ covers every sin, every sin, yes every sin.
  • That, as Ligon said so marvelously yesterday, if we try to seek peace first, we'll fail to find it; it is as we seek Jesus Christ that peace follows in its wake. So very true. Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast...


Anonymous said...

As one who is unable to be in Jackson I am so appreciative of your thoughtful words. The practical, social rituals that surround a terrible event like this are surely very hard, but can also comforting and allow us to "Do" something. Thus, it has been challenging to be so far removed, unable to give a hug or word of encouragement.

Blessings to all of you that are able to give the family the care that they so need during this time.

Lenwood Brooks said...

Are yall going to post the sermon from Paul's funeral?

Frances Holman said...

When I was a teen, I looked up to a young woman who was preparing to become a Director of Christian Education. She was engaged to a young man preparing to enter the ministry. They were both so fine as Christians and from such strong Christian families. On a cold night they were parked with the car running and died from carbon monoxide poisoning. I remember the shock and terrible loss I felt. I remember going to the porch and just sitting motionless alone to think it all through. God put on my heart to pray that I would be extra diligent to serve from then on because of such an empty hole created by this loss. May God grant that this loss of this fine young man would impact other young lives to be more dedicated than ever to His service. May God grant healing to his family.