Almost seven months ago, as you may know, I lost my mother suddenly and unexpectedly to death. One thing that we can expect in life is death, but we don't always know when it will occur or how (Romans 5:12). The events surrounding death and the days/years after can be a somewhat confusing time. It can be a detrimental time for people who especially are lacking in their faith.
It has not been an easy time, in particular, for myself. I struggle with questions that I will never get an answer to, the phone calls and texts that I can't make, the holidays that will forever be different, moments and new memories that won't be shared together, and I could go on and on.
Many people write blogs, lessons and sermons on what they learned through grief, so I naturally assumed I would have one of these, as well. I tried to force myself to write one a month or so after the funeral, to no avail. It wasn't until a few months ago that things began clicking. The next morning I sat reading different things and I came across an Instagram post with Psalm 55:22, "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you..." Wow! What a powerful thought. As I think back, that was exactly what was happening. (I don't say this to boast) Despite my struggles with the mundane things of life and worldly desires, I have never questioned God as to why my mother had to leave this life.
I've known this all along but now I have a deeper understanding of what that really means. God has taken care of me and my family in so many ways over the last four months. We forget to seek God in all that we do and sometimes miss just how He is working in our lives and blessing us so richly.
1. Trust in God – even when it doesn’t make sense.
Proverbs 3:5 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."
There are things in our life that don’t make sense – and you probably have things on your mind right now that don’t make sense, things that you don’t have the answer for. However, Our faith in God should lead us to have full confidence in God’s wisdom, power, and goodness. We must believe that God is able to do much more, that He is wise to do what is best, and that God is good and do what is best for us, if we love him, and serve him even when it doesn’t make sense. God is so much bigger and powerful than we are - He works in ways we cannot even see. God can do things beyond our imagine and comprehension (Eph. 3:20). Yet, in our darkest days is when we typically abandon God - we abandon Him at the exact moment that His light and glory can shine for all to see. We forget that God walks with us each step of the way, even through our darkest valleys, to guide us and comfort us (Psalm 23:4). My mom’s death doesn’t make sense to me and it has been hard to understand that God can see in to the future and He knows what is on the horizon for each one of us. I would bet, there are things in your life that does not make sense either whether it be your job, your family. It’s possible you are struggling with grief, a struggle within yourself, or a secret that is controlling you. So, you ask “Why?” – Why is this happening? This doesn’t make sense in your life.
One of my biggest struggles happened when we received the autopsy results from my mom's death. However, it was not what I expected. The cause of death: undetermined. UNDETERMINED? Something had to have happened to cause a 48 year old to pass away in her sleep, right? Through the many tears that I cried, I realized - God is in control. The autopsy report does not and will not determine my mom's eternal resting place. Would it have been great to have gotten answers? Yes! But, God is in control.
Maybe the autopsy was undetermined to save me from stressing and worrying about possibly family medical history, because I would worry since my mother was so young. Now, I don't have anything to worry about medically speaking. The good news? She was spared from a fight with cancer that she would inevitable lose. Do I think that God had a part in that? Yes, I do. Does it make sense to me? No, but God is there and we have to trust Him with all of our being and not lean on what we know because God is infinitely smarter than we are and knows everything!
The reason I can trust God even when it doesn’t make sense is because I know that God is good and that He will create good.
2. Trust in God that He will create good.
Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose."
God wins! Our trust in God helps us to understand that God is good and that he creates good. We are told that evil+good = good all the time! However, there is a stipulation – these things will happen for those who 1.) Love the Lord and 2.) Who are called to His purpose. What usually happens is we ask God to be on our timing, but in reality we need to trust in God's timing. He won't always show us the good right away - it could be several years down the road. You need to know, understand, and trust that God has NEVER broken a promise. If He says it, God means it! If God says, I will turn around your dark times to make something good, then we must love God and trust God enough to place our faith in the almighty God. However, what this verse doesn't say is that good will always happen to us. The verse says good will happen, but it may not always directly affect us. God is good. God is love. He will show that to us, if we trust in Him. Think back for a moment to times in your lives where God has taken a situation and turned it in to something good. If we take a step back and see God, we can see where He has worked in our lives to further our trust in God that He will create good. If I had time, I could go through a whole list of things this morning where God has worked including my mom’s death and I am positive there will be more good that comes from something that does not make sense in your life right now. Trust God, Love God, and live according to His purpose to allow Him to create good.
I love this quote, “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they actually maybe falling into place.”
3. Trust in God with your burdens.
Psalm 55:22 - " Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be shaken."
If we trust in God, we will trust Him with our cares and burdens that we face in life. To cast our burden upon God, is to rest upon his providence and promise. And if we do so, he will carry us in the arms of his power, as a nurse carries a child. We will realize that we can't do it alone and allow God to take care of us. What I love about this verse is the last part, God will not allow His people to be shaken. Death can really shake our faith at times, as well as, other circumstances in our life. We may turn to the one who has answers and question God. "Why? Why would God allow this to happen?" Really the question is, why are we questioning God? We, humans, are sinful beings. It was because of sin that death became a part of this world. Sin brought forth death, yet we question the one who hates sin and hated it so much that He destroyed the world once before. Does God have the power to eliminate sin? Of course, but God WANTS us to love Him. He WANTS us to have freewill. God does not want to force us to follow Him and to love Him. In fact, God doesn't even need us. It is us who need God. It is us who need to TRUST GOD and cast our cares/burdens on Him. He is the only one who can truly handle it. God's love for us allows Him to do things that will permit us from having our faith shaken to the core IF we cast our burdens on Him. You show your love faith, trust, and love for the Almighty by giving Him your burdens because we know He is the only one who can take care of our battles. If we do, two things will happen:
- God will sustain us.
- He will not allow us to be shaken.
He, who bore the burden of our sorrows, desires us to leave to him to bear the burden of our cares, that, as he knows what is best for us, he may provide it accordingly.
4. Trust God that He is always Near
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23
David gives us a simple and gentle reminder – God is always near, especially to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). We see the great care that God gives to the believers. We must know the shepherd’s voice and follow him, as his sheep. We are reminded that we should fear no evil no matter the difficulties and dangers we maybe in, no matter the trials or tribulations in our life. We can experience the benefit of God’s presence with us and they care He has for his children. God guides our paths and brings comfort to the lives of those who walk the “paths of righteousness.” God walks with us each step of the way, even in our deepest darkest valleys. He provides to us all we need which pertains to life and godliness, yet we still fail to trust in the Almighty God who knows so much more than we do.
Will the days get easier? Trusting in God will help me through. Maybe it was simply that God granted mom's wish to peacefully pass away in her sleep and it was her time. Yes, I have questions as to why it was her time, but God is in control. Remember in Genesis 5:24 - Enoch walked closely with God, but then God decided to take Enoch home.
There will always be many questions that I won't receive answers to but God has given me the answer that I need when it comes to life and eternal life. He is reserving the greatest gift for me - eternal life (Rom. 6:23)! The secret things belong to the Lord (Deut. 29:29) and He gives me all the answers that I need, so that I can live for God each day and serve Him to the fullest.
Psalm 18:1-2 - “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
Those that truly love God, may triumph in him as their Rock and Refuge, and may with confidence call upon him. David was a praying man and God was found as someone who hears prayers. Trust Him to hear your cries, even when life doesn’t make sense because God has promised something great in store for those who love Him and follow Him.
God is Good - All the Time! (Not some of the time, but ALL of the time)
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Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rose Hill Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!