This past week has been long and hard. One week ago tonight, a dear family from our church had their world turned upside down. A fire started in their home, and over the next couple of days, three of their four children died from smoke inhalation.
Oh, how my heart hurts for them. I feel sick every time I think of the grief they are experiencing. As I observed them throughout the day yesterday, when the memorial service was held, I was awed that they were not crushed by their grief. Heartbroken, most definitely. Unimaginable sorrow, yes. But despair, no.
Through the shattered pieces of their hearts, God’s love IS shining. People that are watching them walk through this valley ARE seeing Jesus!! And God is receiving the glory! And while their suffering is immeasurable, it is temporary. They will see their beautiful children again one day. And that is the hope they are clinging to right now.
It reminds me of a passage in the second letter that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth.
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile jars of clay containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up.
Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Oh Lord, whenever they feel like they are sinking in despair, please wrap your arms around them and set their feet on higher ground. Lift their faces to you and give them a glimpse of the “forever” that Nat, Ben and Carter are already experiencing. Help them to hold on to the promise of abundant life with you. Abundant life that will last forever and ever…