Summary: This message was from the funeral of a Christian young person who died unexpectedly. It does not seek to answer all of the questions of their death, but point us to the one with the answers.
MESSAGE - God’s Answer For Troubled Times
There are times that test the soul. This is one of those times. It is at times like this that we wonder if anyone has ever experienced pain and loneliness so intently. This is the moment that that one pivotal question swirls unanswered and unrelenting, “Why?”
Geoff and Lois, I can’t imagine the pain and sorrow that you have experienced over the last few days. Our children, whether by birth or by choice, are meant to live beyond us as parents. The most common statement that we as your friends and family have uttered is that we don’t know what to say. We feel for you and join you in asking, “Why?”
Why should a little girl with so much energy and vitality have her life cut short? What is the purpose of a child with such a gifted potential being taken before those gifts are fully unwrapped? Why would God let this happen?
Not only are those our questions. Those are the kinds of questions that swirled in the pages of the book of Job in Scripture. Much of the book is Job’s painful investigation on the why of troubled times … why tragedy had befallen him. As we lament the lost of Gwen from our everyday, a reflection on Job provides God’s answer for troubled times.
As the book begins, Job is sitting on top of the world. Satan begs that the only reason that Job is faithful is that God has blessed him with abundance.
But one day Job’s world came crashing in. All of the things that Satan said propped up Job’s faith were taken from him. Servant followed by servant followed by servant reported the devastation to crops and property until finally the last servant reports the death of all ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters.
Upon hearing the news that his children have died, the book of Job reads:
20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief, then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. 21 He said,… “The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1)
I have to admit … when I have heard vs. 21 referenced in the past, it has always been in isolation to its context, and it seemed to be used rather cavalierly. God “gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Buck up, get over it and go on. It’s this ‘move on’ mindset that leads some people to say that the book of Job paints an unrealistic picture of dealing with tragedy.
But Job isn’t teaching us to just move on. Vs. 20 is pivotal in Job’s response. The tearing of his clothes and the shaving of his head were both signs of a man desperately broken by his loss. In chapter 2, Job puts on sackcloth, and goes out in sits in a pile of ashes, and he continues to linger there for much of the remainder of the book.
Here is the first lesson we learn from God about dealing with troubled times. Take time to grieve. Don’t rush past your loss, or try to bury it in busyness.
That is something that all of us as friends and family need to hear. You see, it is so easy for us to move on after the funeral, to put the pieces back together and reengage with life. And as we continue on with life, and as days become weeks, and weeks become months, we sometimes become impatient with those who have experienced loss wondering why can’t they just move on.
Geoff and Lois need us today to celebrate Gwen’s life … and to share their grief. But through the coming weeks and months, when we as friends and neighbors become busy once again with our own lives, when coworkers get back to work, and family return home, Geoff and Lois will still need us to meet them occasionally in that place where laughter meets loneliness, And as we make those visits with them in that place of sorrow and celebration, the frequency and intensity of those ventures will soften over time.
The second lesson that we learn from Job about dealing with troubled times is that it is important to ask the right question. You see, our question is usually “Why?” Isn’t it? It’s a question seeking justice, looking for answers.
That was essentially Job’s question as well – He wanted to know “Why would God let this happen to him?” His ‘friends’ wondered why Job was denying the sin that obviously caused God to punish him this way.
The struggle to find the answer to ‘Why’ has shipwrecked the faith of many. The objection that many have to belief in God is simply stated, “If God is good, why … why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?”