Several weeks ago, a church youth group was returning from a week at camp when their bus tragically crashed less than a mile from home, killing the youth pastor, his wife, their unborn child, and a church worker. I was touched by the grace of the church pastor, who was also the youth pastor’s father, during such an intense and public time of grief. I sent a small donation, a copy of my book, “God’s Will for the Rest of Us,” and a note to him expressing my condolences and prayers.
The pastor replied with an email thanking me for the book and, specifically, the couple of chapters I had written about the painful sacrifices God may call us to offer as we walk with Him. He said my words touched him and encouraged him in his time of need.
I have had the opportunity to share those two chapters to encourage several friends and loved ones who have experienced similar times of painful grief. These are people who have given their lives to the Lord yet find themselves laying such a costly sacrifice on the altar. None of them would have asked for this beforehand. Some may not recover from the body-blow to their faith.
Scores of books have been written about “why bad things happen to good people” and the unexplainable loss so many have endured while trying to follow the Lord. It’s easy to have doubts about what purpose there is in this suffering, especially when the answer to our question, “Why?,” shouted toward heaven, is too often met with stony silence.
During such difficult times, it is possible we hear nothing in response to our questions because God has already given the answer in His Word. He may be pointing us, in His silence, to find it there. In the grief of losing a loved one, in my own case the sudden passing of my mother last month, I was reminded of a wonderful passage in 1 Peter that hints at what those sacrifices will bring when the Lord comes in His glory.
Here is 1 Peter 1:3-7: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
We have this hope that we’ll stand before him and, in the words of the Apostle Paul Romans 5:3, “rejoice in our sufferings” when Christ is revealed. The prophets, angels, and future citizens of God’s kingdom will see our crowns, our reward, more valuable than gold and shining like the stars forever with a glory that can never fade away. They will marvel at those of us who walked by faith in the time when “heaven was silent.” We are encouraged many times in the New Testament to endure, to persevere, to hold fast that no one takes our crown. Our lives here are nothing but a vapor, and none of us has a guarantee of what tomorrow will bring. But we do have the promise of God, who does not lie (Titus 1:2), that the endurance of our faith will bring a rich and lavish, glorious welcome into the heavenly realms.
The grieving pastor said something in his note to me that I held on to in my own recent time of loss: “His grace is deeper than our grief.” May we continue to remind ourselves of that truth as we continue our journey of faith while heaven is silent–but only for a little longer!
In The Search, the first e-book in the “God’s Will for the Rest of Us” series, we take a look at the common questions and viewpoints of God’s will and show why some of them lack scriptural basis and lead to confusion. We will also set the stage for the broader study of “God’s will for the rest of us” as the warrior, runner, farmer, and sacrifice.