Lately, I have been encountering a wealth of pain and struggle, not of my own but of others. Everything from the failure of relationships to the dissolution of marriages to death and sickness and poverty. I have been witness to too much grief and too few miracles. There is little else in the world that makes less sense to me than seeing parents mourn the loss of a child. It is something that is particularly affecting my church family as our pastor reported on his blog just the other day.
The past 24 hours have been pretty devastating for us as a Summit family.
First, our beloved Helen Young, a matriarch in our church, passed away this afternoon. Helen had struggled with a severe case of cancer for some time…and went home to be with Jesus at about 4pm. Helen was our church’s backbone. I remember when she told me, 9 years ago, that God wanted me to be pastor of her church, then “Homestead Heights Baptist.” I thought she was crazy then. Perhaps she was. She has served us and our congregation faithfully, and up until the past year has been on just about every church-wide mission trip we’ve taken. She has entered into joys unspeakable.
Secondly, Chai Atwood, the son born 14 weeks premature to our college pastor Trevor Atwood and his wife Keva on Sunday, went home to be with Jesus a little before noon. We were praying for a miracle. God has taken Chai on into ultimate healing. No longer can he come to us, we will go to him. (1 Sam 12:23)
Third, we found out today that Nate Henn, the son of Summit members (North Raleigh campus) Bob and Julie Henn, was killed by a terrorist bomb in Uganda yesterday. Nate worked for Invisible Children, leveraging his life to see healing and hope brought to forgotten children around the world. Check out his story here.
I have said prayers for all of these people over the last few days knowing that feeble but powerful offering is all I have to give them. For the Atwoods, it is a little more personal for me as I have served in the college ministry with them for years now and have learned so much from the example of Trevor and Keva as godly people and loving parents, even though they probably don't even realize what a testimony they have provided for me. Shortly after I learned of what happened, I saw Trevor's response on behalf of his family and it was filled with grace, humility, hope, and strength.
Today much changed, Jesus did not. The gospel is true in the face of death. Thx to the 1st born among many brothers. Chai Samuel is yours.
I don't know if I'll ever be a man like that.
I am lucky to call Trevor a pastor and a mentor, blessed to call him a friend. Inasmuch as he is like Jesus, I need to be more like him.
While all struggles are light and momentary in comparison to the glory and inheritance we have in Christ, my struggles truly are light and momentary in comparison to anything that matters. Still I rage inconsolably blaming God and anyone else for my slight pin-prick of pain that I experience. I am a bratty child in God's sight. A sissy when it comes to pain.
The light of the gospel shines its brightest out of darkness. Hope is precious to those who would be without and useless to those who have everything that they need. One of the greatest gifts God can give us is the clear understanding of our desperate need of Him.
That will usually come when I stop trying to make sense of everything or presuming that I can or should know what God is doing in the world. It comes from knowing that Christ does not change. His love is steadfast. His character remains the same always. God doesn't wait around for me to need Him to show up. He is always there, ever-present. But thank God for the times it is made clear to me how desperate I am for Him.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn and pray for these people if you are reading this and are so inclined.
And I pray God that I will remember...
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.