Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15
Out of the blue, the sad, stunning news came that a dear brother in the Lord had unexpectedly passed away. His health issue had not seemed an urgent one, so we were blind-sided by the abrupt departure of our respected friend and colleague. In his typical way, Grant left this life as quietly and unassumingly as he had lived it.
In this day of red-line stress, hearing of the death of someone, even someone close, was almost, shockingly, blasé. We’re so used to the unrelenting barrage that even decease close at hand barely blips our radar. Once, we would have paused for a day to emotionally assimilate the loss. Now, we’ve thrown up our hands in mental resignation. Just par for the dreadful course we currently find ourselves on. Just another place we have no control.
As hard as it is to be alive right now, it’s even worse to die. The dead are not getting their just due. We’re seen the bodies pile up in over-taxed medical facilities like mass graves at concentration camps. Is a person so insignificant that just because of pandemic conditions, they get robbed of respect? When you can’t gather with other mourners and take a beat to honor an individual life, what have you become? Where’s the dignity? Where’s the humanity? Where’s our goodbye? Restrictions on social gatherings are preventing us from the rituals that are utterly necessary to our healthy grieving processes. Let’s not lose a grip on proper solemnity the Lord imparts to the human frame, even in death.
When I first heard that Grant was gone, like everyone else, I was shocked. Then, saddened. Finally, I was overcome by a feeling of complete and utter outrage. Downright mad. When I think about the flagrant and impenitent mass of godlessness corrupting the earth with insolent license and prospering, I am indignant that Grant’s life should be cut short. Why should he be gone before he saw what he was waiting, praying, believing for? In a moment, in a breath, the potentiality of a great faith departed. A dedicated, mature life, steeped in praise and promise never saw the full bloom of answers.
Grant struggled with physical disadvantages from childhood. Though small in stature, his heart was huge in visions and expectation of the great things God could do. He loved Scripture and preaching, sharing the revelations of ‘types and shadows’ he found there. A faithful employee, he also administered his duties as a deacon with the most commendable efficiency and diffidence. He was sweetly courteous and deeply respectful of the feelings of others. Mild and thoughtful, kind and generous, he was nonetheless a strong man.
But some prayers, righteous desires burning in his heart, were never answered. That’s why I’m getting up in God’s face in a way the meek and gentle Grant would never have even dreamt of. I’m angry on his behalf. Where is that “hundred-fold in this lifetime” (Mark 10:30) he was promised? He’s been short-changed. Where was his unique blessing and honor? Despite his exemplary faithfulness, he was never given a mate or had children. The visionary exploits of someone who’s virtual tag was ‘jedimaster’ remained unfulfilled. I’m not telling you your business God, but is this really the best you could do for your passionate saint? That’s all you got? Let him slip away in the night? At grossly unjust intersections between faith and reality like these, I can only trust that the glory balance-sheet tallies in the end.
Pardon my irreverence. I’m only speaking out loud what most of us are thinking. So much of life conflicts with Scripture. There’s a story from the Bible that my friend John likes to quote when he’s ruminating on what’s fair with God. Remember Naboth and his family vineyard? An innocent, godly man just minding his own business, working hard and trying to keep his family together got caught in the cross-fire. Not his fault King Ahab coveted his fields and set the infamous Jezebel on a treacherous spree to see him unjustly condemned. Don’t forget the denouement, though. Because of him, a king, queen and sons were brought under judgment. Jehu took ‘em out in one fell swoop. In glory, we’ll have to ask Naboth if his sacrifice was worth it (if you can pry him away from John!).
The moral is, we can only be faithful, and entrust the rest to the Almighty. Look to the example of exemplary saints. Rest from your labors, Grant. You are beloved.
A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth. Ecclesiastes 7:1
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