“For I hope (wait for and trust) in You, O Lord;
You will answer, O Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15
In Psalm 38, King David cries out to the LORD acknowledging his sin and seeking relief from the suffering it brought. He knows (vs 9) that his LORD is aware of all his concerns, confesses his inability to do anything about them, then makes the declaration of verse 15.
As with David, much, if not all our troubles can be traced back to our sin / sins. Though, we must remember the words of Jesus Christ in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” If we live in this world, we will have trouble and not necessarily because of anything we have done, and we can overcome in it because He has, and we are in Him.
That said, our failures, disappointments, reversals, and more, may be traced back to the person we see in the mirror each morning. Someone once said: “I am what I am because of the choices I have made”. David, as should we, took full responsibility for his situation, and if we are to move forward from where we are today, it must begin at this place of confession. In Psalm 32:3-6, David says he suffered until he acknowledged and confessed his sin. Only then did forgiveness, relief from guilt, and reconciliation with God come.
We all need to be reconciled to this indispensable, Life-giving relationship; agreeing with Him about our condition, finding the abundant forgiveness He offers through Jesus Christ’s completed work, then, following His detailed instructions on how to get on and stay on His path (Psalm 32:8-11). This fulfills our reason for existing, gains His favor, successes and life-sustaining supply. This gets Him the glory and honor He deserves and He mercies us with joy, rest and the inner peace He has guaranteed.
Seek Him NOW while He can be found (Psalm 32:6). Today is the day! Know the benefits His way assures (Psalm 32:10, 11). His unfailing love is here, now, and promises consistent ongoing personal improvement and future amazing outcomes to all who believe in Him.
I lost my cousin today. The son of my dad’s brother, and the youngest of two children, he was known to the family as Little John. I suppose from some throwback to the Robin Hood character. But not to me. To me he was always Big Bad John.
John stood 6 foot 5 inches tall and for most of his adult life weighed more than 300 pounds. He was younger than me, but he was a much bigger man than I ever have been. Dad used to refer to him as the Gentle Bear. John was intimidating in his size, but there was nothing at all intimidating about his heart. John warmed up to everybody he came into contact with and was always looking for the good within people. It is just the way he was.
John passed away at 0500 EST this morning peacefully in his sleep after a short battle with cancer. I have always been the rebel in the family, not seeking out relationships or contacts. But not so with John. These last few months, and really for the last couple of years, John confided in me maybe a little more than the rest of the family. Almost to the point where the rest of the family was asking me if I had heard from him and if I knew how he was doing. Perhaps to some extent, John was more respectful of our relationship than I was.
Perhaps it was because I served in the U.S. Military and John never did and he always had such great respect for our Nation’s military. Or perhaps he just cherished some of the moments we shared in our youth. But whatever his reasons, Big Bad John wanted to share the last few months he had on this earth reminiscing with myself, his cousin.
I’ve stated this before, but I’ll take this opportunity to say it again, Death is the antithesis of Life. Jesus Christ said that he came to earth that we might have Life (and have it abundantly) (John 6:39-41). God gave all of humankind Life from the inception of creation. Death is the sin curse upon the world and Satan uses it as a feeble attempt to rob God of his created family. And thus Death and Life are at odds with each other. One brings joy and happiness, and the other brings sorrow and pain.
I was at work when I got the call from my wife with the news that John had passed. I must have been visibly shaken because my coworkers asked if I was OK, and one asked if the phone call was bad news after I had hung up the phone. Even though I knew it was coming, and even though the family expected it at any time, the moment of the news was a point that shattered my soul. Big Bad John was gone. No longer may I take for granted his Skype calls or his IM chats, or the time that he wanted to share. Those times are now past. And the memories of those times are all that remain.
If your world view is Atheistic, then I am saddened for you all the more. The one thing that evolution cannot answer for you is the emptiness in your soul at the passing of a loved one, a family member, or even a friend. There is no science that explains the inexplicable bond that all of humanity shares over the helplessness of Death. Even though as a good atheist you should know that it is all without meaning and that we are all just cosmic particles drifting in the vastness of the universe, there is still, to varying degrees in all of us, that unnatural feeling of loss that Death brings.
If your world view is Agnostic, then you really should not care one way or the other at the loss of a life. But the impact of Life and Death is still there and is still an unexplainable force that impacts us all.
However, if your world view is Theistic, as mine is, then you should understand that God is still in control and that His Great Plan is playing out on the world stage and just how privileged we are to be a part of it all.
Christians sometimes wonder why God allows Death in the world. I believe that Christians shouldn’t wonder why God allows Death, but rather understand that God orchestrates Death. God is the giver of Life and only He (and He alone) may take that Life away. Consider the Life of Job. When God asked Satan if he had considered his servant Job, and Satan accusingly challenged him on the blessing God had bestowed upon him, God allowed Satan free rein in Job’s Life but would not allow him to take Job’s Life (Job 1:1-12). Because God, and God alone holds the keys to Life and Death.
We like to depict Death as the Grim Reaper, as some evil character coming to take Life away, but in reality, the Angel of Death works for God, not Satan. And Satan has no more say over your Death than what God allows within His plan.
And thus, like Paul of Tarsus, we may proclaim, “Oh death where is thy sting, Oh grave where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:54-56). Because the Theist, the Christian, has a great hope that this life is not meaningless, that there is order to it all, that there is a God who loves us and who has a Great Plan for His Honor and for His Glory and that we have the great privilege of being a part of that plan.
I know that I know that I know, that one day Big Bad John and I will swap stories once again. I know this because Cousin John told me that he was at peace with his King and his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And I know that God is now holding Cousin John in His great hands, safely awaiting that day when we will all be united once again as part of God’s great family. Not for me, and not for Big Bad John, but for His (Jesus Christ’s) own Glory.
So Big Bad John, just know that in the meantime I will keep the faith, and as for me and my house, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD until that day that he either calls me home or He comes again to reunite all of His children in the ultimate culmination of this fantastic journey He has orchestrated for each and every one of us.