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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tragedy to Triumph

It's been a bit of an emotional week for me as I have internally been dealing with a lot of thoughts and information about loss this week. Specifically, the loss of children.

I heard about this about Steven Curtis Chapman's family from a coworker just this morning not long after I walked in the door. Oh, it's just awful.

On Monday, we spent a good deal of time in our weekly staff meeting praying for a client's daughter who is pregnant and the baby has complications such that he likely would be stillborn or will not live long after birth.

On Wednesday during BSF Share Day, a mother got up and spoke only a week after her 11 year old son's funeral. He died on Mother's Day.

Another mother got up and spoke as she approaches the 1 year anniversary of her teen-age son's death.

One of the first ladies that spoke that day told of her son's death when he was young many years ago.

Let me tell you, there was not a dry eye out of the 200 or so ladies that filled that sanctuary yesterday morning.

But I will also say that I have been so encouraged by the faith these people have shown. And I have counted it an absolute privelege to pray for each and every one of them.

You see, God allowed me to go through 2 miscarriages not long after Sarah was born. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. Emotionally and spiritually. And finally, getting through the early months of my pregnancy with Nathan, once we decided we were ready to try again, was incredibly difficult as well.

I believe that I am in such an incredible position to pray for these people, especially our client's daughter, as a mother having been through such an experience.

Let me be clear: I don't believe He allows us to go through the pain of suffering and loss just so that we can help someone else. I don't believe that's consistent with His character. But friends, if we suffer without letting God use the suffering to change us, then it really is a waste.

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

But catch verse 29 as well... "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."

I firmly believe that the "good" that is talked about in verse 28 is the being "conformed to the likeness of his Son" that is spoken of in verse 29.

Yes, we can look for circumstantial good things in the life that is around and about us. But the true good work of the Father comes when we are not only conformed, but transformed into the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ.

I have been made accutely aware this week of how specifically I can pray for these people experiencing the loss of a child after having dealt with a similar situation myself. Even still, He is using my experience from almost 7 years ago to transform me, specifically my prayer life. Christ was able pray for us specifically as believers (John 17) and is able to help us in temptation because He's been there. He's walked a few days in our shoe leather. I can apply those same principles to my own life and pray specifically for those in similar situations. I can count it a honor to do so.

I very well may be "preaching to the choir" here and I don't mean to preach at all. It's just that I have felt bombarded by this kind of news this week and it's really got me to thinking about it.

I'm prone to vain imaginations and this kind of news just makes me wonder how I would react in such a situation.

Let me tell you, the mother that got up and spoke yesterday morning, in the midst of mourning and grief, shared verse after verse of how the Lord has been speaking to her. Oh, it was so rich. And it was pointed out to me later that it had to be because she had been hiding God's word in her heart over time.

Our client's daugter and son-in-law were the same way in the emails that my boss read from them.

Yes, God can give us a Divine Word in the midst of grief, but what's more likely is that in both of these situations these people were able to pull from thier storehouse of truth that they have been gathering and applying in their lives over time.

That's how I pray I would react. That's how I pray I will react the next time that suffering comes. Because you know what they say... there are 3 types of people in the world: those in the midst of a storm, those just coming out of a storm, and those that are headed into a storm.

Tragedy and suffering is going to come. Can I look past the tragedy to see the triumph? I pray it is so.


Brittany said...

What a wonderful post. I agree with you. I believe God allows tragedy in our lives to better His kingdom. My dad just was in front of our church congregation this last Sunday talking about his walk with the Lord through his almost life-claiming illness. He was a strong man of God before it, during it and now after it. What a testimony he's been to so many. I pray I can be in front of my Lord, after the tragedies in my own life and hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Meg said...

On the day before Mother's Day, I went to a lunch with my Mother In Law and Robin my Sister in Law. Mother's Day is always hard for her, she has had so much loss in her life. She is still so very angry with God over Jacobs death, her mothers death and now finally her Fathers death.

We talked at the lunch how she is still not ready to apply Scripture to her loss. I worry about her and pray for her to have healing and a renewed spirit in the Lord. So keep her in your thoughts as the anniversary of Jacob's death is approaching in June. I pray she will begin to heal so she does not miss the joy of James who turns 4 this July. She truly is still in the storm that has raged for around her for 5 years. Jay's brother Joe writes a letter in Jacob's voice each year on "his" birthday. In Heaven on cloud 9 Jacob will start kindergarten, and Jesus is the superintendent of the school. I hope Robin can come out of the storm soon. Thanks for your thoughtful post... - meg