Nothing gives you a more jarring perspective than the news of a young life cut short … For me, that came in the form of a phone call last night, telling me of the sudden death of a young man (in his early 30’s), whom we went to church with in Missouri. He’s a father of 4 young children, and of course, a husband, brother, son, uncle, friend, employee, church member…. He was my husband’s choir director for a short time, and my husband sang in a quartet with him and his family on occasion as well. We loved his family, and my husband considered his mother a friend and confidant during some very troubling times in our own lives. And now they are grieving this sudden, tragic loss.
On Facebook tonight, this young man’s wife posted their last picture together, taken, apparently, a very short time before he died. They were both smiling, out on a mountain biking date without their children … and within a short period of time after, this man was in the presence of his Savior!
In our Beth Moore Bible study last night over the book of Daniel, we studied chapter 4 – King Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony: his pride got the best of him, and God reduced him to living like a beast in the field for 7 years before he came to his senses again! He had a forewarning of this event in a dream that Daniel interpreted for him– of a flourishing tree that was cut down and reduced to a broken-down stump. This stump was fettered down with iron and bronze. Some interpret that to mean the stump was prevented from growing … but instead, it might be interpreted that this stump was being protected because IT WOULD FLOURISH again (which is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar did after his very lowest point, living as a beast of the field).
Beth Moore reflected on her lowest days in the lesson … which of course, that brought back my own. Several years ago now, my husband was not only unemployed, but he’d broken his leg – then he’d gotten a job in another state, and we lived apart for 6 months. My “job” was to finish homeschooling our children, finish up our duties in Missouri, and get our house ready to sell. Living in 2 households was draining us dry; his new job did not pay enough to cover those expenses plus the debts we’d already incurred … and our house wasn’t selling! In fact, it was hardly being shown.
One day, I was cleaning our old home’s kitchen. As I scrubbed down the refrigerator, I would notice more and more areas that I’d neglected so long and needed to really deep clean – those seals around the doors and the areas under the crispers … and finally, the vents underneath. I was sitting in the floor, scrubbing – I’m not really sure where my children were, but at the moment, I was alone, considering how very far we had fallen and how extremely humbled we had been to have to rely on so many others to help us and how much we’d lost. And I knelt there in the floor and sobbed. I bowed myself down and just cried my heart out. I was completely broken.
My husband today texted our love and sympathy to the mother of this friend of ours that passed away. She replied “We are broken, but God is sovereign.”
Brokenness is a bond of mankind. Sin breaks us … sadness breaks us … death breaks us. BUT as Christians, we have the hope that GOD alone is protecting us with His own hands! The pain leaks in between … but evil cannot touch us with His permission (think about Job – an old pastor of mine, Harold Clayton, delighted in the fact that “the devil needs a permit” as the first chapter of Job describes the Devil asking God for permission to touch Job). The question is often asked, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” … and despite the books that are written on the topic, I still don’t wholly understand why. BUT I trust that GOD KNOWS.
In true brokenness, the kind that seeks God (not the kind that becomes bitter), we are most blessed because really, the ONLY ONE who can fully calm our hearts is GOD. We can have hope of flourishing again, despite the pain and the scars … and in fact, come out with a testimony. I wish I could say MY testimony were stronger and less wavering … but maybe – hopefully – my testimony isn’t complete.
After being broken, King Nebuchadnezzar said, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just …” (Dan 4:37a)
Please pray for our friends … I can’t even begin to fathom their loss and the void that has been left in their lives. Only God knows why this happened … Pray they will just continue to trust Him and flourish again in due time.