Tough


A person born from a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and is cut down (Job 14:1-2).

We have a garden in our back yard. Often times we will cut an arrangement of flowers from it to put on the dinner table in the spring and summer. When you collect them, you look for the ones that are the most beautiful and cut them from the plant.

I think that really gets to the heart of what Job was expressing. Life is short. We don’t live forever. In fact we don’t really live that long at all. We are not like trees, we are more like flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow. We don’t control when we come into the world, and—when we get real honest with ourselves—we don’t control when we leave, or when our loved ones leave. And that is hard.

Last week a man got up, got dressed, kissed his wife goodbye, and left for work. He never made it.

I had officiated a funeral for the father of the widow of this man last year. She asked for me specifically this time. “What if he isn’t available?” they asked her. Apparently, she looked right back at the funeral director and said, “Make him available. He has to be available. It has to be him.” Fortunately, no one had to make me free, I was available and said I would do it.

“Wait,” you say, “I thought you weren’t a pastor anymore.” That is half true. I am not currently working as a pastor at a local church. But I will always be a pastor. I can’t help it, it is who I am and how God made me. I am a pastor wherever I am. Besides, many local pastors end up declining doing the funeral for someone not connected to their church. I am not like that. I have never turned down a call from the funeral home unless I was gone on vacation. These people are broken, hurting, and looking for God. I am drawn to such people.

Today I officiated his funeral. A funeral for a forty-nine year old husband and father.

I don’t pretend to have answers for things like this. I have the same questions everyone else does. Why him? Why now? He was in the prime of life. He wasn’t sick. Why didn’t God save him?

I don’t know. I know God is good. I know this was not because God didn’t care, or fell asleep, or turned his head, or because He was too busy with more important matters. I don’t get this either.

But just because I don’t get it, it does not follow God is bad, or at fault, or that He didn’t know what He was doing. After all, Mary watched her son Jesus die too. She watched him get arrested, condemned, beaten, and nailed to a cross. What was she feeling? You don’t think she had the same questions? “Why him? Why now? He is so young. He didn’t do anything wrong. Why didn’t God stop it?”

Nothing in the history of mankind was more criminal than the murder of Jesus Christ, yet God has brought no greater good into the world than by the death of Jesus. If God can bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil, then maybe I can trust God with this.

Job felt like God had abandoned him too. But God hadn’t abandoned him. Just because Job felt like God was angry with him, that didn’t mean that’s how God was feeling and acting towards him. If Job could still trust God when things didn’t make sense, maybe I can too.

I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. But I know Who is turning it out; and he is good, loving, kind, and compassionate.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

In times like this, we need to go to God for comfort. You are not going to find Him too busy, or out of sorts, or in such a mess that He cannot help. If that is your picture of God, you need to throw it out. It is not true. God is always at His best, and He offers us His help, healing, and hope through His Son, Jesus Christ. When crap happens that you don’t understand, trust Him. You’ll be glad you did.

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