Monday, April 14, 2014

This I Know

John Triton Harvard
 Recently, a dear pastor and friend shared the sad news that a family with whom he is acquainted lost their five year old son in a pit bull dog attack.  The older brother (7 or 8) tried valiantly to save his brother but needed help.  When he returned with his father, it was too late to save his brother.  When I read this news, my heart went out to all concerned and I began to pray for them.  There can be no harder place to be than losing a loved one especially a child.  Our family knows this all too well.
     Years ago, when I was going through a difficult time in my life, a friend shared a wonderful scripture verse that has become a favorite of mine.  The Apostle Paul wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the Church at Corinth.  As we know, this church had many difficulties which Paul addressed with firmness and love.   2 Corinthians 1:3-5 reads:  "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."  The words of the Scripture verse are pregnant with blessing for our hearts.  Paul calls God the Father of mercies, and indeed, He is that. He is also the God of all comfort for in Him we have a high priest who knows all about our sufferings (Hebrews 4:15) and temptations.  Furthermore, Paul makes it clear in this verse that as we share in Christ's sufferings, we will also share in His comfort.  Lets be honest here.  No one that I know of likes suffering and yet, as Christians, we are told that we will face this.
     Jesus clearly instructed His disciples and said this in John 16:33:  "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  Our Savior never candy coated the life of being His disciple.  We will face affliction, loss, and suffering.  However, our peace is found in Christ who has overcome the world, sin and death.  Because the Lord made it clear that we would face hard times in this world, I believe this is why both Peter and James mentioned in their letters the need to remain strong during trials.  Peter writes (I Peter 1:6-7):  "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praises and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  Then James writes in James 1:3-4:  "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." In all these verses, we can glean two truths.  Trials make us stronger and Christ is our source of comfort since He has overcome the world.
     We live in a fallen world where it rains on the just and the unjust alike.  Therefore we should not be surprised when heartache comes.  However, we have a God of all comfort and I found that to be true when we lost our grandson.  During the days and hours after he died, I ran to God's Word to find solace.  I cried out to God to hold me, and He gave me His peace.  This is a resource that we as Christians have that the world does not possess.
     I cannot begin to understand or know the mind of God as to why he takes certain people from this world, but I know that He is sovereign and sees the bigger picture.  My "Reformation Study Bible" footnote on page 1672 reads:  "God has a sovereign purpose both in our troubles and in the comfort that He gives us in them.  If we have experienced God's comfort in suffering, we may be able to support others whose sufferings are like ours."  This is true.  We are able to pay forward the wonderful comfort of God to others facing the same painful trials.  Additionally, for those who have lost a child as this family in Alabama has, there is the hope of seeing that child again in heaven.  Jesus tells us in John 14:1-3:  "Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in Me.  In my Father's house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself that where I am you may be also."  This is a promise from our Redeemer.  Our days of trouble and grief will end, and if we believe in Him, we, too, shall spend eternity in His presence with our loved ones who have placed their trust in Him.  This is what I know.  This is what I believe and this is what sustains me day by day.  Let us take the comfort which God gives to us and begin to share it with others who are hurting.  As we do this, we will know His peace and joy.  Selah!

Please be praying for the Jeff Harvard family as they laid their little boy to rest yesterday.

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