Thursday, September 23, 2010

Death Does Sting

I know the Bible says, "Where O Death is your sting?" (Isaiah 25:8)

I have to say, I'm feeling a little sting right now. 2 friends have passed away within the last week. For one, death was unexpected; for the other, he was battling cancer. Both were in their 40's. Both served faithfully at our church, both have left beautiful wives and children, both were the nicest guys you could have ever met.

Death is sobering; it shakes you up. It reminds you how short life is. It makes you wonder if you are doing everything you can in every area of your life to the fullest, or if there are things you should change. I'm sure neither of these men predicted that last week was their last time talking with friends, with their wives, with their children, their last meal somewhere.

My kids knew both of these men. They have questions right now. They want to know why God took their friend's daddy when we had prayed for him to get better. It's so tough- I want to know that too.

What do we do when our faith comes under fire through life's pain and misery? How do we view God when He answers our prayers with, "No"? Do we paint a new picture of who He is based on our experience, or do we hold fast to the unchanging, omniscient, ever-loving, and omnipotent God?

I choose to believe that my God is who He says He is, and that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is gracious and compassionate, faithful and just (Psalm 111:4, 7). He is slow to anger, abounding in love (Psalm 103:8). That means I can yell, scream, and cry all I want about how this seem so unfair, and God can take it. He's big enough, and He loves me in my pain because I can't see the perfect tapestry He is weaving on the other side. He is in control (Psalm 103:19), He is eternal, not bound by time (Isaiah 44:6), and He is good (Psalm 119:68). But above all, God is love (1 John 3:16). He loves these 2 guys whom He welcomed into His presence this week, and He loves those who are left behind to wait until it's our turn.

Can I trust God even through pain? I must. I cannot let pain define my beliefs; I must let my beliefs define my pain. It stings, no question. There are so many people hurting right now because of these men who have left so suddenly. But we can hold on to His Word which is "eternal, it stands firm in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89) Let's cling to the lifeline of God's Word, His very love letter to us, the anchor of our souls. I pray for the kids who have lost their dads and wives who have become widows, that they too will anchor themselves in You who never changes, who has numbered our days and knew this was coming even though all of us on earth were surprised.

My cousin just sent me some verses of hope and promises in the Word. May they bring comfort to those who need comfort today.

God will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)

God is a shield and the lifter of your head (Ps 3:3)

He is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Ps 34:18)

He hears you and will save you (Ps 34:6)

He cares for you (Ps 8:4), he puts your tears in a bottle (Ps 56:8)

He is a stronghold for the oppressed , a stronghold in times of trouble (Ps 9:9)

He is your light and salvation, you have nothing to be afraid of (Ps 27:1)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps 46:1)

He is trustworthy. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Ps 56:3-4)

He knows you and he knows what you're going through. (Ps 139)

He is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Ps 145:18)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Ps 147:3)

He is sovereign. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble (Prov 16:4)

He is true, and His Word is truth. Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Pr 30:5)

You can put your whole weight on Him. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock (Is 26:4)

He does not faint or grow weary, and He will give you strength (Is 40:31)

He will provide for you- if He cares for the sparrows and flowers, how much more will He care for you? You are of more value than them. (Mt 6:25-34, Mt 10:31)

He will give you rest. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Mt 11:28-29)

He answers prayer. (Mt 21:22)

You are His child if you have believed in His name (Jn 1:12) and He loves you (Jn 3:16)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:38-39)

He is good and He has good plans for you. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28)

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13)

He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Cor 1:3-4)

There are better things to come. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

His grace is sufficient for you. (2 Cor 12:9)

He won't leave you hanging. He has given you the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph 6:10-18)

Pray and let your request be known to Him, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7)

You can do all things through him who strengthens you (Phil 4:13)

He has been where you are and knows what you are going through. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Heb 2:18).

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 5:15-16)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. You can trust in Him. (Heb 13:8)

He will give you wisdom. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8)


Jen Bowers said...

Great post Tammy! I have bookmarked this one to come back to for all of the wonderful pieces of scripture you've included.

I've been praying like crazy for my extended family at Grace. I am so sorry for your losses! Mom has been telling me that it's just one thing after another.

When I read your post, I was reminded of a sermon I listened to from Matt Chandler a few months back. It was maybe the 5th or 6th sermon after he was diagnosed with cancer. He wrote about 1 Corinthians 15 ("Where oh death is your victory? Where oh death is your sting?") and how it's used by many pastors at funerals. He's always wanted to say, "The sting is right here!" Which is how I've always felt and what you've brought up here. Matt then says that the focus of this passage really should be that we will soon have a day where death will no longer sting because it will no longer exist in our new creation with our new bodies. Jesus bought that for us with his blood. And as much as this stings right now, isn't it wonderful to know that Our Savior is going to take all of that away from us some day?

Here's a link to the sermon: This particular one is from 2/21/2010.

I will continue to pray for you guys!!

Tammy Meinershagen said...

Thanks Jen for your prayers and your perspective! You are right, in the end, death has no sting and that is the most amazing thing. I will check out that sermon; it sounds like it's for such a time as this.

Miss you!

Charity said...

Beautiful. Words escape. Prayerfully.