My wife has been encouraging me to say a few words soI am sitting here trying to think of words or a word to describe this year for our family. The word that comes to mind so clearly for me is “Thankful”. I do want to be honest there have been some days over the past few months that I might have chosen some different words. But let me take a second to share why I have chosen the word "thankful". I was asked a question by my son Noah the other night that made me think for a second. He asked…how has God existed forever? I thought for a moment and then asked Noah, how has God not existed forever? You see the way you answer these two questions changes the significance of the word “Thankful”. If God does not exist and our families health issues are nothing more than bad luck, then the words I would use to describe this year would be more like…”anger” or unfair”. It definitely would not be thankful. But if there is a God who has created all things and what it says in Romans 8:28 is true that “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”, then I have reason to be thankful. If this is true then heart conditions and muscular diseases are not bad luck, its God working out His souverign plan for good.
With everything going on in our lives it has caused me to think more deeply about these things than ever before. I recently read a portion of a book put out by John Piper called Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. The book is a collection of thoughts and reflections on the topic of suffering written by people who have experienced some really suffering. One section written by Stephen F. Saint caught my attention. He was the son of a missionary whose father served in the Amazon jungle alongside Jim Elliot (there was a movie called End of the Spear that was in theaters a few years ago that tells there story). When Stephen was 5 years old his father was killed by the very people they were trying to reach with the gospel, but through that Stephen and his family saw many of those people come to trust in Christ. But in this section much of his reflection is about losing his daughter who I believe was around 19 years old do to a head injury. I wanted to share a quote that I pulled from Stephen’s reflections that deeply impacted me. It’s not the easiest words to digest, but I would encourage you to ask yourself, like I have…why would the alternative be better? If God does not exist or is not all powerful (Sovereign) and loving, and does not intentionally allow things like heart conditions, why is that better or even more believable?
Why is it that we want every chapter to be good when God promises only that in the last chapter he will make all the other chapters make sense, and he doesn’t promise we’ll see that last chapter here? When Stephenie was dying, the doctor said, “There’s no hope for recovery from an injury like this.” I realized that this was either the time to lose my faith or an opportunity to show the God who gave his only Son to die for my sin that I love and trust him. And then I watched. I watched my sweet wife accept this as God’s will and God’s plan. And you know what God has done through this? He changed my heart. He broke it. He shredded it. And in the process he helped me see what he sees. I thought the worst thing that could happen in life was that people would go into a Christ-less eternity. There’s something worse than that. It is that our loving heavenly Father, the God and Creator of the universe, is being separated every day from those he desperately loves[…]”
I am not thankful for heart conditions, muscular diseases or just fill in the blank, but I am thankful that these things are not bad luck but that in God’s sovereign plan He has a purpose. And that purpose is to reconcile Himself to us through His Son. This is what should give us great cause for thankfulness and it does me as we begin another year.
We continue to be grateful for the many ways you all have shown your love and support for our family. 2012 was certainly a challenging year for us but we have truly been blessed beyond measure by all of you.