It has been a while since I have written because, quite frankly, the struggle has been intense lately. It is very difficult sometimes to put such a personal journey through grief into words. In the next few entries I would like to share some exerts from the book A Tearful Celebration by James Means. (James Means is a pastor who lost his wife to cancer.) This book was sent to me by a pastor friend of my brother Mike and has been a source of great encouragement to me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with grief and loss.
Tonight I want to share a portion from the chapter titled “Has God Failed Me?”
“Has there ever been a true saint who has not struggled with the feeling that God was not treating him fairly? Surely such inner wrestling is one of life’s most inescapable trials.
Nowhere in the Bible could I find an absolute guarantee of pleasant circumstances. Christian, like others, are subject to sickness, accident, and incalculable loss. If I think God will always keep me comfortable, I am going to feel let down. God will not always do it. Christians are not exempt from trouble and bitter distress.
The true Christian teaching is: “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Peter wrote: “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12). I must refuse to be deluded into thinking that life here and now is the wonderful life. The wonderful life is the one to come after this one is over…
I hurt, I sorrow, I agonize over the loss that has come into my life. A precious life has been taken away. I feel great grief and pain. It sears my every waking hour and casts a puzzling, dreary shadow across my life’s journey.
As I come to grips with my grief, I reject the sentimentalized, sickly religion so popular today. God’s comfort is not insulation from difficulty; it is spiritual fortification sufficient to enable me to stand firm, undefeated in the fiery trials of life. God’s provision is not always green pastures and still waters. Sometimes God leads into the valley of the shadow, but I may walk there with confidence, assured of the love and presence of God…
In my time of trouble, my understanding is not crucial. It is my confidence in the person, the goodness, and the sovereignty of God that is the great, indispensable necessity.
God did not coddle the biblical saints with an unbroken stream of blessing. Their lives, like ours today, were lived in the shadows and valleys of life’s tough journey of faith… They trusted God despite harsh circumstances. They were steadfast in the face of crushing reality. They hoped in God when all reason for hope was taken away. Such tireless faith is to be our chief goal in life, for by it we glorify God, purchase a place of honor in His kingdom, and love as Christ loved. We must cultivate this faith…
God has failed to do what I thought He should do, but I must not allow this event to result in any bitterness in me. Instead, I must recognize that this major disappointment should drive me to stronger trust in God. Life looks very different without the false security of an indulgent, over-protective God, but it is more real, honest, and challenging to my faith. It offers greater opportunity to bear witness to a God of wisdom and superior grace.”
What a blessing to know that and experience the all sufficient grace of God! I am blessed to have copies of many of Layne’s outlines and sermons. I am reading and studying them as part of my devotional time. I will close with a quote from him from a message he preached about grace
“Many things in life will fail us. Friendships will blossom and then die. Health can be an elusive thing. Riches and wealth will often remain just beyond the reach of your finger tips. Those we love will pass from the scene leaving a void in our hearts hard to be filled. However, there is one thing that every child of God possesses that can never fail, never end, never run out, never run dry and that will never be found to be insufficient, and that is the grace of God! Yes, the road may be long and dreary, the days may be filled with difficulties and struggles, but rest assured that there will be grace sufficient for every need and every trial. That is the promise of God and that is the hope of the saints!” Layne Daniel