Monday, October 7, 2013

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

We are studying the book of John in our Discipleship hour at church.  The stories are full and rich with Jesus' life and love for His people.  It is also difficult and helpful to discuss some topics because they go straight to my heart.  John 9:1-3 contains the verses that we loved and clung to when we knew Samuel would have special needs and never do many things on this earth.

 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

 I think I wrote before that I was sad to lose our identity as a special needs family when Samuel went to heaven.  I thought, that's not our verse anymore...but He revealed to me that it was and is still applicable to our family!  Samuel's life and death can display the works of God, WE as servants of the Lord are BROKEN, but we can display His works through our brokenness.  We can proclaim His grace for others to see.  I get emotional every time I read or think about this verse.

Another amazing and emotional story is the one of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus.  Lazarus was sick and died.  When Jesus came back to town He wept over the death of His friend. He did grieve and was sad, but He knew how wonderful heaven is, so why was He sad??  Because He knew the truth, that is what happens with sin...we are separated and sad when we loose someone.  He hated sin and knew death would temporarily separate us who believe!  Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 
These words bring such comfort and peace to my heart!!! I love this verse so much and cling to the words for my sweet Samuel! 

You know the rest of the story, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!  I wonder if Lazarus was upset with them for bringing them back to earth after tasting heaven's riches for 4 days?!  The Bible doesn't say, but he was with Jesus again, so he may have been content either way.

We talked about "what is the most shocking news you have ever heard?"  Some shared of almost losing their loved one and how afraid they were.  Our associate pastor and wife's beautiful 9 year old daughter is fighting something worse that leukemia, aplastic anemia.  That news was a very recent shock.  We are praying every day for her and their family. 

The most shocking news I ever heard was that Samuel had a progressive, degenerative disease with NO cure. My beautiful, happy little bright eyed boy?

 I search the internet when he was 2 when the mitochondrial disease diagnosis was mentioned.  I read stories of normal children becoming weaker and weaker and all of their organs shutting down and the worst happening.  I also read about more than one child in families having it.  I was so afraid.  I watched the girls carefully.  We did everything that we could possibly do to help Samuel.  So when we finally got the diagnosis years later (when he was 5), I said I would not go back and read those stories, it was too painful.  Instead I spent each day with him.  I held him and loved him to the fullest.  I took him and the other children out and we made memories.  Until he was too weak and too sick.  We stayed home and held hands, sang and cared for him.  We loved him so richly. 

Now we are one of those stories. We are living on this earth without our child. Pictures are hard, getting in the van without another seat filled is hard, not loading up tons of equipment every time we go anywhere is even hard.  I walk in the bathroom and imagine him wiggling on the floor while I get his bath ready.  I see him snuggled up on the couch with Tim watching tv often when I enter the living room.  I hear a beeping and want to jump to run to his side because it sounds like his feeding tube is having a problem.  There is so much more. 


I have hope.  We have hope.  We will see that precious face again.  We talked yesterday in class about the fear of death.  But now I am excited about heaven.  The promise of no more sadness, no more tears.  Worshipping my Father and being surrounded by His glory!  And being with Samuel. We, as His children should not fear death!  We should be looking forward that day with joy and excitement!  But while we are here we must tell others the good news, show others our joy and serve Him.

Walking through the "valley of the shadow of death" was the most difficult thing I will ever have to do .  Just thinking about watching him those last minutes is painful.  But he had peace.  He saw his angel and he let us know he was ready. When I think about that moment holding him with Tim on one side and me on the other, as we sang fly to Jesus and said the 23rd Psalm with him, I think of the devastation in my heart, but also the peace that surrounded us.  He was there lifting us up and bringing us comfort as He went through that with us.  He still is. I know that Samuel is worshipping, healed and happier than I can even imagine.  I must cling to His promises.

Could you imaging losing your spouse to cancer and your precious 2 year old daughter also to cancer in the same year?  R.C Sproul  Jr. did.  Our elder, Joe sent this video of him speaking about his story and the Suffering and Sovereignty of God.   He told us, "I thought he did a wonderful job of applying doctrine about suffering and our sovereign God. It was a blessing to me and I wanted you to have it too!  It is powerful."   We are hoping to watch the whole series he made and know it will bring much encouragement and hope to many!  If you have lost someone dear to you or have been through any trials (which is everyone) I would suggest you watching it, too!

Here are some things he answers in this interview:
1. Why do bad things happen to good people?
2. Does Jesus really understand My pain?
3. Can I have joy again?
4. How can I encourage others who are suffering loss of a loved one?

May the "works of God be displayed in your life" and in your suffering today.

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