The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. (Psalm 116:15) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28). (New Living Translation, Both Verses)
Kathryn Sharp, first cousin to Brock, Ben and Speer sisters, sings at the Home going Celebration of her’s and her husband’s dear friend the Rev. John C. Franklin, June 13, 2015. Kathryn and Brother and Sister Franklin sang as a trio when Bro. Franklin was her pastor at Shepherds Fold Church of God in Louisiana.
This particular post is one that was no where on my mind today, until it came into my mind today. I will trust such “intrusion” to be according to the purposes of God. Death is horrible; it was not a part of God’s plan. We ask “why?” We cry and blame. It makes no sense. So, why does God allow death to enter into our well-planned lives and suddenly “interrupt it?”
The video that was chosen for this post is not one that I had ever seen before; it was “just there!” The care of God for those who have lost loved ones is something that can not be denied. In John, Chapter 11, we see the reaction of Jesus to the death of one of His friends who was named Lazarus. In verses 1-3, the sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, went to Jesus and told Him about the illness of their brother. But, verse 5, states that even though Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for two more days. In verse 11, Jesus tells His disciples that Lazarus has died (He knew about it, without having been told of the death), but that He was going to raise Lazarus out of death, with that purpose being stated in verse 15, “so that you may believe.” “Finally!” After four days of Lazarus being in the tomb Jesus arrived (vs 17). Many of the friends of Mary and Martha had already arrived to comfort the grieving sisters. (vs 19). When the sisters knew of the arrival of Jesus, they had different responses. Mary stayed at their home; Martha went straight to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” (vs 20-21). We can imagine such an honest response to the death of a loved one; even if it is directed at Jesus. But, her statement was also due to her faith in Jesus to have saved Lazarus from death. In vs 28-29, we see that Martha calls Mary to Jesus. Mary quickly went to Jesus, fell at His feet, and repeated the statement to Him that Martha had previously said. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vs 32) Mary, like Martha, also had the belief in Jesus that He could have saved their brother from death. In verse 33, we see that Jesus was deeply, emotionally, moved by the grief that the sisters and their friends were experiencing. Jesus joined in the grief, as we see in the words, “he was deeply moved in his Spirit and greatly troubled.” The KJV says, “He groaned in the Spirit.” Then, in verse 35, we see the response that Jesus had to the grief of those who were mourning the death of Lazarus: “Jesus wept.” Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus and said, “Lazarus, come out.” (vs 43). Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, walked out of the tomb, alive (vs 44). The purpose for the death of Lazarus, and his being brought back to life by Jesus, is stated in vs 45, “Many…believed in Jesus.” It was very clear that Lazarus was really dead, for four days, and that Jesus really raised brought Lazarus back from death to life.
The incident in the lives of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, and their friends, was truly an interruption by God. Its purpose is obvious, as it is stated in Scripture. But, there are times in our lives that such times of interruption have no purpose, but are confusing and seem to make no sense. But, we who are believers in Christ, have the Presence of God’s Holy Spirit indwelling us and providing the comfort that can come, only from God. As grief runs it course of healing, we may be able to see the truth of Romans 8:28, “the purpose of God.” Too, we may never come to that realization. Still, God understands, and has given us these words of comfort, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
One of the most meaningful books that I have ever read is “When God Interrupts.” You may find comfort from your own interruptions in life by reading the book. A brief description of the book follows.
When God Interrupts
By: M. Craig Barnes
The death of a loved one. Moving to a new town. Losing a job. Relationships disintegrating. When God Interrupts is for men and women who are living life as they never expected or planned it. It’s for those who are hurting from an unexpected turn of events and don’t know where to turn now. Author M. Craig Barnes offers hope and comfort in his message that abandonment can be embraced as the opportunity to receive new life in Jesus Christ
Our lives are constantly changing. It’s hard to keep up, to keep our balance. It’s hard to keep trusting in God. And it’s especially difficult when the changes we’re faced with are unwanted: the death of a loved one, a child leaving home, an illness, a frustrated dream. Craig Barnes knows the dark side of change. As a pastor, he has counseled many Christians through tough times of transition. And he has been challenged by unwanted changes–interruptions–in his own life. At times it seems as though God has moved far, far away. But Barnes has discovered that just the opposite is true: during times of change and seeming abandonment, God is right at our side offering to lead us in a new direction, offering us new life. He writes, “A young widow can outlive her grief and decide her life may never be the same but is far from over. A lost job can become the beginning of a new vocation.” Here is the book for all who have known disappointment, bereavement or the shattering of faith, a book all the more valuable because it promises hope without denying despair. In When God Interrupts a sensitive, insightful pastor shows us how we can be found by God in the middle of unwanted change.
M. Craig Barnes (PhD, University of Chicago) is Meneilly Professor of Leadership and Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and senior pastor at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a former senior pastor of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington. Barnes is also the author of numerous published articles and is a speaker at seminary and church events.