Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Currently Unknown Recipients of Grace

Following Micah's death, we received a kind gift of a new cherry tree in honor of Micah. When we planted it in the backyard of our South Minneapolis home in the fall of 2009, we of course had no idea whether that little tree would live.  This past winter, we sold our home in South Minneapolis and moved to a new home in the western suburbs. This week, I was surpised to receive an email from the new homeowner with a picture of the cherry tree (which Heather and I liked to refer to as "Micah's Tree.")  This year's blossoms were better than in any previous year, and the new homeowner(s) will enjoy Micah's tree for years to come. While we wish we could have brought the tree with us to our new home, I was happy that the tree appears in good health. 

In the case of Micah's Tree, a previously-unplanned and unknown recipient now benefits from the gift originally intended for us.  As God works in our lives to change us and our loved ones to be more like Him, do we really have any idea who will benefit from this?  In many cases, we have a good handle on who the recipients of God's grace will be.  But I think I often limit the reach of God's power, as if God will only impact those individuals that I currently know or see in front of me.  God is not bound by any such artificial and human limitations.  God's power is, as Paul said in Romans, "beyond tracing out," and his power beyond anything we can even imagine.  Along with numerous other grieving parents, I look forward to the day of our Great Reunion, when we can begin to realize how God used our greatest sufferings to achieve his purposes, even in the midst of great grief. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Do Christians Grieve Differently?

In a recent blog post, John Piper shared a letter he wrote to a recently bereaved mother.

Particularly if you are a fellow grieving parent, I would encourage you to read Pastor John's post.  I appreciate Pastor John's thoughtful, grace-filled response to this grieving parent.  I also thought his post would be a good answer to the question (not asked of him directly) of "Do Christians Grieve Differently?

On the one hand, we might not outwardly appear to grieve differently.  We mourn.  We cry.  We hurt like we've never hurt before.  Our ways of dealing with this grief, as Christians, are all over the board. I've known parents who go to the cemetery every day; others who have not been back since the funeral.  Most of us like to share memories of our child; a few don't.  But regardless, all of us hurt.  Piper likened our loss to an amputation, which I believe is an apt description, to the extent any description can be. 

While we may outwardly exhibit grief like the rest of the world, Christians do not inwardy grieve like rest of the world.  We are always grieving, but also always rejoicing, knowing what the future has in store.  We know, for certain, that we will see our son Micah again.  As stated in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, we grieve in hope for what is to come. For just as certainly as Christ died and rose again, so He certainly redeemed the life of our son and the lives  of millions of other children who have died as infants or young children.  The outward grief is merely a function of time--the anticipated length of time we, as parents, have to wait to see our children again, and the time of sin, disease and death that thwarts our God-given desire to raise full and complete families.  These times, however long, will ultimately pass away, and then at long last we will see our son, again, by the grace of God.