Practicing to Lose? Faith’s Response to Sudden Tragedy, Grief, and Loss– Purity 740
Purity 740 05/2/2022 Purity 740 Podcast
Today’s photo the sun shining through cumulous clouds and over utility lines and some roadside greenery comes to us from a friend who shared this pic and other shots of the heavens in an album they called “Look to the Sky” on social media back on May 15th.
While this photo is magnificent in its simple beauty, It is with a heavy heart that we share it this Wednesday morning as not only has there been another mass shooting in our country, this time at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas, that has reportedly resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two adults, but I also received news late last night that my wife’s uncle, Michael, died suddenly last night apparently from cardiac arrest.
At times like this we might finding ourselves looking to the sky to ask the Lord: Why? Why did this happen?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that our nation has seen a school shooting and it probably won’t be the last time, and regardless of the efforts of law enforcement and members of the media to investigate this latest crime, the answers they uncover about what happened will not adequately answer that question: why?
Likewise, the loss of our loved ones will not be adequately explained to us from the reported cause of death that is drawn from a coroner’s autopsy report.
Man’s efforts to explain the evil that men do and the phenomenon of death in our lives can answer the questions of what and how things happened but for the answers of why are existential: they have to do with the big questions of the meaning of life.
And while some will just look to the sky and possibly lament or grow angry at the seeming lack of meaning or purpose to our lives in the wake of such tragedies, I know that there is a God above it all who loves us and will one day send Christ to make things right.
The Biblical narrative for the reason “why” bad things happen and why we die, probably won’t provide much comfort to those who are hurt and grieving and may enrage those who don’t have faith in Christ or any respect for the Bible as God’s Word. So I would hold off on sharing the root causes of evil and death that are provided in scripture in Genesis 3 through the story of Satan tempting Adam and Eve resulting in the knowledge of good and evil, and thus the beginnings of sin, and death.
That won’t help someone who doesn’t believe and it might not help those who do.
However, the Christian faith can be of immeasurable value in times of trouble, provided that the person has mature understanding of the truth of reality that is revealed in scripture and has a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ that is augmented by a continuous practice of renewing the mind with God’s word and applying its wisdom to the way we live.
The Bible contains the answers to life and death. But those answers can confuse or provided cold comfort to those who don’t understand them or who are not actively applying them to their lives.
The Bible is uncompromising in its depictions of sin, suffering, and death and in presenting Christ as their only remedy and His life reveals the appropriate response that we are to employ when tragedy, suffering, or turmoil comes.
From the New Testament narratives of His life on earth, we can know what we should do when we don’t know what to say or do.
Jesus’ tears were shown three times in scripture: Once at the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35), once over the city of Jerusalem when He contemplated its future siege and destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70 A.D.(Luke 19:41) , and finally in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of His arrest (indicated in Hebrews 5:7-9) where He anguish was great but His desire to do His Father’s was greater.
Christ’s example shows us that its okay to cry and as Paul tells us in
Romans 12:15 (NKJV) to
15 …weep with those who weep.
When we face tragedy, loss, or rejection, it is natural and healthy to express our emotions and to let others express theirs. Instead of trying to relieve people’s grief with theological explanations, we just be present with them and help them where we can. Which brings us to the second thing we can draw from Christ’s life to do in times of trouble.
Jesus heart of compassion was shown in His miraculous healings. While we may not be able to physically or emotionally heal people like Christ did, we can offer hospitality and help to those who need it in other small ways. Being present and available to help others may be the best way to show God’s love to those who are hurting. So be a friend and a Christian by helping where you can and in knowing where you should give space.
And finally, Jesus prayed.
Christ was constantly in prayer. And when He was faced with His greatest trial on earth, He went to the Father in Prayer, poured His heart out to Him in prayer, and rose to drink His cup of suffering with peace.
This is the difference maker. That close personal connection with God and a knowledge of who God is assures of God’s presence, protection, and purpose.
God is always with us, but we have to seek Him to know the wonders of His love in times of heart ache. When we seek the Lord in times of suffering, we will find Him and He will give us comfort and strength to persevere througj even the worst tragedy.
Through faith in Christ, we have the assurance of our salvation and eternal life in God’s kingdom. So no matter if disease or sudden death should come our way, those who have made Christ their Savior know that no matter what pains we suffer on earth, we can trust that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us, will give us strength to endure, and will welcome us home when our time on earth has ended. So we know that we have His ultimate protection. Christ knew it and He faced an unjust trial and death on the cross with peace because of it.
And although we may never fully understand why things happen, we can be assured that everything that happens has a purpose under heaven.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) says that we can
28 … know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
So while we have limited understanding of why bad things happen or why people die, the Lord knows and we can trust that He works all things together for good.
To have peace in the storms of our lives, we need to stand on the Rock, Jesus Christ. When we know who we are in Christ we can be assured of our acceptance, significance, and security in Christ. The truth of who we are in Christ and a close personal relationship with God that is fostered by continuous practice of the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study will keep us grounded in peace in every circumstance and comfort us in times of trouble.
So in hard times, remember to keep walking and talking with God and He will see you through.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Romans 10:9 (NLT2)
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Today’s Bible verse is the prescription for salvation. I follow the resource I have selected for the Bible verse I use each day. So I apologize if this is “old hat” because I use Romans 10:9 all the time in either directing people to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ or to assure Christians of their salvation!
Did you say it? Did you make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? If so you are saved, so let’s follow Him.
I like to keep things simple because living as a Christian, renewing our minds with the word of God and repenting of our worldly ways will be a complicated enough! So rather than endlessly doubting if we are actually a Christian, I ask people that simple question and then encourage them to live as a Christian if they answer in the affirmative.
If you don’t feel like a Christian, assure yourself of your profession of faith and start acting like a Christian. Your feelings will catch up as your mind sets itself on the word of God and decides to apply God’s wisdom to the way you live.
So you run into any who “doubt”, give them Romans 10:9 and ask them the question: “Did you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead?”
And if they say yes, assure them that they are saved and encourage them to start living like it.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
3. We make much of Christ in our secular work when it confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel.
There is no point in overstating the case for the value of secular work. It is not the Gospel. By itself, it does not save anyone. In fact, with no spoken words about Jesus Christ, our secular work will not awaken wonder for the glory of Christ. That is why the New Testament modestly calls our work an adornment of the Gospel. In addressing slaves, Paul says they are “to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:9–10). The point here is not to endorse slavery (which Paul undermined more indirectly by calling the converted slave, Onesimus, “no longer … a slave but a beloved brother,” Philemon 16), but to show that the way we do our work “adorns” the doctrine of God.
In other words, our work is not the beautiful woman, but the necklace. The beautiful woman is the Gospel—“the doctrine of God our Savior.” So one crucial meaning of our secular work is that the way we do it will increase or decrease the attractiveness of the Gospel we profess before unbelievers. Of course, the great assumption is that they know we are Christians. The whole point of the text breaks down if there is nothing for our work to “adorn.” Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not know we are Christians is like admiring an effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.
Removing Stumbling Blocks for Faith
There is another place where Paul expresses the modest role of our work in relation to the Gospel. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11 he tells the church, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” The point here is not that our work will save anyone. The point is that if we live and work well, obstacles will be removed. In other words, good, honest work is not the saving Gospel of God, but a crooked Christian car salesmen is a blemish on the Gospel and puts a roadblock in the way of seeing the beauty of Christ. And sloth may be a greater stumbling block than crime. Should Christians be known in their offices as the ones you go to if you have a problem, but not the ones to go to with a complex professional issue? It doesn’t have to be either-or. The biblical mandate is: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23; cf. Ephesians 6:7).
So the third way we make much of God in our secular work is by having such high standards of excellence and such integrity and such manifest goodwill that we put no obstacles in the way of the Gospel but rather call attention to the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. When we adorn the Gospel with our work, we are not wasting our lives. And when we call to mind that the adornment itself (our God-dependent, God-shaped, God-exalting work) was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, and that the beauty we adorn is itself the Gospel of Christ’s death, then all our tender adornment becomes a boasting in the cross.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 142–144.