Monday, December 17, 2007

The ballast of God's good sovereignty ...

Heights and depths intertwine and coexist in our lives.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

Our family shared communion with the Goehrings and the Copelands / Archers on Saturday evening. In the same months that we've soared to great heights of celebration as we watched God's plan for a new covenant family unfold in the lives of Max and Jenny, we've watched Norman, Debra, Ariel and Caitlin Goehring struggle under the weight of Lou Goehrigs' disease (see July 22 post), and the Copeland family deal with Robert's ranch accident and brain injury and now also the failing health of Nadyne and Lorena (sisters to Robert's dad, Bill).

About 20 of us gathered at the Goehrings to sing, hear God's word, and share in the Lord's supper. Norman has taken nothing by mouth for many months now, but on Sat. evening Tim touched the bread and grape juice to Norman's mouth and tongue as we unsuccessfully tried to choke back tears and ponder Christ's sacrifice - and God's sovereignty.

I'm sure I'm slow to understand; I wish I wasn't that way. I wish I could comprehend God's ways. Then maybe I wouldn't sit with uncontrolled emotions and a throbbing head just when I want to be an encouragement and support. So I turn to His words and to others who have walked with Him and learned His ways. John Piper, in The Misery of Job and The Mercy of God, writes:

"It is a great sadness when sufferers seek relief by sparing God his sovereignty over pain. The sadness is that this undercuts the very hope it aims to create. When all forty-two chapters of the book of Job are said and done, the inspired author leaves us with an unshakable and undoubted fact: God governs all things for his good purposes...

Pain and loss are bitter providences. Who has lived long in this world of woe without weeping, sometimes until the head throbs and there are no more tears to lubricate the convulsing of our amputated love? But O, the folly of trying to lighten the ship of suffering by throwing God's governance overboard. The very thing the tilting ship needs in the storm is the ballast of God's good sovereignty, not the unburdening of deep and precious truth. What makes the crush of calamity sufferable is not that God shares our shock, but that his bitter providences are laden with the bounty of love."

It's the holiday season again - which seems to bring with it looking back and looking ahead. Last year at this time Tim conducted 3 funerals in 11 days, and Norman was diagnosed with Lou Goehrigs. Our days seemed filled with grief - but mixed with rich relationship that comes when grief is shared. Then came new rich relationships for us and displays of God's abundance of mercies. And then a day in September that brought Ashley's birthday - and her Uncle Robert's accident. I guess "there's nothing new under heaven" and this drama has played out again and again over thousands of years. But, WOULD YOU PRAY FOR OUR FRIENDS? And would you pray that God's name would somehow be praised in all of this.

"The great purpose of life is not to stay alive; but to magnify - whether by life or by death - the One who created us and died for us and lives as Lord of all forever, Jesus Christ. I pray that his sovereign goodness will sustain you in the unyielding joy of hope through every flame of pain and flood of fear." - John Piper, The Misery of Job and The Mercy of God

Willa and Bill Copeland, Robert's parents

Cheryl, Robert's sister

Debra and Norman Goehring

Caitlin and Ariel Goehring with Jenny and Kaylee at Wawona

Caitlin (in Pilgrim's Progress play) with dad, Norman. Oh to again hear the hearty laughter that accompanied that rich smile. We look ahead to that day when all is made right again.

1 comment:

Garrett said...

I shall pray indeed, though I don't know them. The Lord will be magnified when we trust in Him!

When Nathan Steoppler passed away after several months of fighting a rare brain tumor, I could not understand how it could possibly please God. He was just 14 (or close to that) and of seemingly good health... why would the Lord not heal one of His young ones? Literally hundreds and likely thousands of saints were praying for his physical deliverance daily. I was one of them. A couple meetings I attended lasted for hours.

I think we are still waiting to see the full impact Nathan's early death will have on the world.

His family is a beaming example of God's love and grace and have no regrets as to their last days with Nathan. His father seems to have grown the Lord incredibly, in particular, after losing his only son.

And Nathan passed into the Lord's care with such confidence and coolness it dramatically convicted me and many others, I'm sure, over our fear of death. The Lord holds our lives in His hand... what can frighten us?

Thank you for sharing these prayer requests with us!