This year, more than any in recent history, we’ve been confronted by the mortality of man on a global scale. It has been emotionally exhausting at times getting daily updates of how many lives were lost the day before; and yet it has forced many of us to reflect on death and eternity. A few weeks ago the much-loved and respected apologist Ravi Zacharias passed away.
During the months leading to Ravi’s passing, a social media campaign #ThankyouRavi gained momentum, as people shared their appreciation for Ravi’s ministry, dedication to defending the Gospel and discipiling others to do the same. I could understand the sentiment, but I felt like people were already saying goodbye to Ravi (he was still with us) and it made me feel uncomfortable.
Death makes all of us feel uncomfortable. The last few months of the Covid-19 outbreak have confirmed the tragedy associated with death. There were times during these past weeks where it felt unending, but as lock down restrictions are beginning to lift, here we are coming out on the other side in Jesus name.
Whenever I read through the book of Acts and the Gospels, my heart sinks everytime I read about disciples being martyred. No matter how many times I read through the Gospels, there is always a minute part of me desperate for Pilate to reject the Jews unlawful and unjust sentencing of Jesus to death. Within myself I murmur Pilate stand your ground don’t let them do this, their making a mistake, He is the King of the Jews. But the reality is regardless of how “nice” or “noble” my internal petitions may sound, it would mean no crucifixion, no resurrection and that would mean no salvation for us today. Jesus Christ had to die.
In Sarah Davis’ tribute to her father Ravi Zacharias on the RZIM website Sarah said something that really made me stop and think.
“My father is more alive than ever before”
I had to ponder on this statement for a while. Then suddenly I started to grasp what the Apostle Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Sarah’s loving tribute to her father reminded me of the ultimate hope of every follower of Christ. As Paul rightly points out in 1 Corinthians 15:19 the Christian’s hope is not to live forever on this earth. We are not pursuing immortality in a finite world. But instead our hope is to fulfil God’s call for our lives here on earth, and ultimately inherit eternal life with Him in heaven.
Sometimes I wrestle with difficult questions when someone dies, whether they’re high-profile or not. “Why God, why did You allow this person to die? What about those left behind? Couldn’t You have spared their life?” I’ve never received a direct response to these questions. But when my grief becomes to heavy to bear , and drives me to the presence Of God – then I see Jesus and I’m comforted. I’m reminded that death is not the end, nor is it tragic for the believer. Because what awaits us is incomparable to what we see now. 1 Corinthian 13:12
I’m not trying to trivialise death. It is devastating. Death is horrible, especially if preceded by suffering, sickness or injustice. Even now there are many mourning loved ones lost during the outbreak, and they deserve to be comforted and supported through their grief. But let’s also remember that death is not the end, and for every believer in Jesus Christ – life, abundant – indescribable in comparison to the standards of this world, is only just beginning.
So here is a challenging thought, perhaps this taboo topic of death, may be a path way into a discussion about life, eternity, salvation and God’s redeeming love. This also is Good News.
Lord we bring before you every person heart broken and grieved by the loss of a loved one. We bring before you Lord every person who feels the loss is unbearable. We pray that You minister Your peace to every heart, we ask You to carry them in their weariness, and envelop them with your presence, to comfort and renew them in Jesus name amen.
So… I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately.
During my primary school years – around age 9 or 10, one of the most anticipated events at the end of the school day was the ice cream man. As my mind shifted from the joy of not being the last one to be let out of the classroom (everything was a competition when I was younger lol), I could hear the chugging ice cream van parked on the other side of the leafy school fence. Most of the time I would have already spent my pocket money for that day on sweets, which I bought whilst making my way to school in the morning – golf ball chewing gums, jaw breaker fire balls, strawberry pencils – the list was endless. On those days I had no choice but to reluctantly walk past the ice cream van, envying the reception kids, who were not old enough to appreciate the flake vanilla ice cream they were allowing to melt all over the sleeves of their school uniform.
Other days I resisted the morning sweet binge in order to buy my double cone, three scoop ice cream with nuts, sprinkles and strawberry sauce on top. I had a very sweet tooth growing up. But on most days, I had done the former and therefore missed out on ice cream after school, so I felt sorry for myself. It’s not fair, if only I was like the kids whose parents picked them up from school, surely I would also enjoy this privilege. The truth is I needed to practice self discipline, sometimes it’s better we don’t get everything we want, when we want – everyday could not be “ice cream man day” because that would be bad for my health and I would also probably take it for granted – it took me a while to learn this.
Some 16 years later, as I analyse my current place in life, I still find myself grumbling “it’s not fair”. Perhaps there are aspects of your life that cause you to do the same. Why isn’t my reality like so and so’s? Why can’t everything be perfect all the time? It got to the point where I started to question God: why did You allow things to be this way? I was throwing the biggest pity party. Then I started thinking about Job and how unfair his whole experience was. Here was a guy who was so “faithful” to God, even offering sacrifices for the potential sins of his children and yet God still allowed the devil to take everything away from him! Surely he didn’t deserve that,
why would our loving, good God do such a thing?
The Holy Spirit led me to the book of Job and directed me to read the last 5 chapters and they completely shut down my pity party. If you are feeling discontent or frustrated with where you are in life or a particular ongoing situation like Job, I would encourage you to read just these five chapters – Job 38 to 42.
The truth is our understanding of “morality”, “justice”, “good” is so warped by our sinful nature that we can never ever rightly question God. Yes you can take your questions to God like I did, but accusing God’s nature and character because you’re uncomfortable with where you are in life right now, only shows how wavering and fickle our faith in Him really is.
My mind went to sessions of praise and worship were I had heartily bellowed the song lyrics of the band Housefires’ “good good Father”. I thought to myself, am I not the same person that passionately sang these words to this same God? Why was I struggling to grasp His goodness now? The truth is God is constantly molding and shaping our faith, so that it is steady, firm and sure.
And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation].
Our faith in God should not be based solely on how comfortable He has made us, or the fact that we prayed and got what we prayed for, or the latest “good thing” that has happened in our lives. God is calling us to a faith that is based on our reverence and understanding of who He is first and foremost.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
It isn’t logical, it isn’t transactional, it’s supernatural – it requires the inner work of the Holy Spirit to sustain this kind of faith, but it is possible to believe God simply because He is God – even when you’re in the storm. You’ve heard of child like faith – it’s very simple – young children believe even before they’ve seen the evidence. So things might be really challenging and discouraging for you at the moment, be encouraged things will get better. My prayer is that the Lord will enable us to wait upon Him, our hope will not be disappointed!
I Peter 5:10
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
May God enable us to be steadfast in our faith and confidence in Him, so that even in the valleys, the fiery furnace, the oppositions our hope will be firmly planted in Him until He comes to our aid in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love ❤
It could be through a dream, conviction of the heart, a revelation.
When God speaks, something new is born – a vision, an assignment, a calling, an ambition. It changes the way we see all that is around us. Our priorities are often rearranged, we sing a new chorus in our hearts, and our minds are filled and fuelled by it.
“God said” starts more and more of our conversations, especially the ones we have within ourselves; as we try to defend the promise God has entrusted to us.
What should we do when God said, and nothing has happened… yet?
God said to Abraham, “Get out of thy country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing”
God said to Moses, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.”
The angel of the Lord said to Abraham and Sarah “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “shall I surely bare a child, since I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
It had been twenty-five years since the promise was first mentioned in the Bible; imagine how long Sarah had already been waiting before we hear of this promise. She had waited so long for this promise, that when she was told specific details of how long it would be, before she would have a child – her longing and her desire had overwhelmed her faith. Anticipation became anxiety, and waiting turned into worrying. Perhaps secretly within her, Sarah had loosen her grip and let go of the promise. Because having the type of faith that has no bearings by the world’s standards, the type of faith that exceeds mere “optimism” or “positivity”, may have been too difficult for her.
If you could utter words of encouragement to Sarah, in the midst of her waiting, knowing what you know about Isaac and Israel, what would you say?
I would tell her that the possibility of her not having a son was impossible. I would make her aware that a lineage specially chosen by God, was dependant on her having her son. I would assure her that God had plans, hundreds of years in the future, that rested upon her receiving her promise.
So, what has God said concerning you? What has been revealed to you? Is it in line with the character and nature of God? If God has confirmed it as His Word, then it must come to pass. Don’t let go of it, prepare yourself – it will come.
May God pour out over us the grace to trust in Him and wait upon Him in Jesus name amen
Peace & Love