Summary: This sermon was delivered at the funeral of a young 17 year old boy who died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack.
When There Is No Answer by Jerry L. Burns
Psalm 91:2 (KJV) “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
Proverbs 3:5 (KJV) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
My temporary physical setback, and momentary trials and tribulations, are minor and insignificant when compared to the pain and grief being experienced by Sis. Margarita Franklin-Williams, Daughter Precious, Sis. Veronica Whites and their extended families. On behalf of Living Word Church I extend to them our sincerest and heartfelt condolences.
The pain and suffering being experienced by this family is comparable to giving birth to a child, only much worse. Words cannot even begin to express the agony of delivering a child to the grave. It can only be expressed through groanings and travail that have their origin in the depth of a ruptured heart.
When delivering a child to life, although physically painful, the pain is somewhat tempered by holding the newly formed life in your arms and by the glorious hope of a future. In delivering a child to to the grave, the pain is not so much physical as it is mental and emotional. However, that pain is not tempered by something you can hold.
The inevitable question after such a tragedy is “Why?” Even from the Pastor of this Church does not come an easy answer to that question. In fact, I don’t believe any human being can answer that question satisfactorily. Oh, we easily mouth the customary platitudes such as “God knows best.” And He does, but, that answer does not assuage the pain. Or we will say, “God does all things well.” And He does, but it does not ease the pain. Or, “They are in a better place.” And they are, but the pain goes on.
What, and where, is the answer? After 42 years of ministry I have found the only proper response, in the absence of an answer, is to trust! When there is no readily available answer, all you can do is trust!
There is an answer but it will come at the end of a long and arduous journey fraught with, as the song-writer has penned, with “dangers, toils and snares.” This journey will be marked by attempts to mislead, to entice, to defraud, and the temptation to give up the search for your answer.
When there is no answer, we must trust!
Several years ago, as a missionary aviator, I learned the value of trust in the absence of an answer. I was flying my small single engine plane from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic which involves flying over the ocean.
I was flying very close to the base of the clouds to give myself time to react if something happened with the plane’s engine. Even without power I would still be able to glide several miles before ditching the plane in the ocean.
About a third of the way into my flight I suddenly realized that I could no longer see the water below! I had inadvertently flown into a cloud and had no visual reference to the ground. I was flying blindly in a cloud!
Not having been adequately trained to handle the situation I allowed my instincts to control my actions. I immediately reduced power to the engine to descend out of the cloud. When I finally dropped below the bottom of the cloud nothing looked right! I realized then that I was in a steep left bank and the engine was racing! I was in what aviators call “a death spiral.”
After I realized what was happening I was able to take corrective action and continue on to Santo Domingo with no further problems.
The point I want to make is this, in the cloud, I could no longer trust or have confidence in my instincts nor my own judgment. I was in a steep left bank, and an out of control spiral, with absolutely no physical sensation! My judgment and instinct would have led me to a certain death!
That incident led me to seek a higher level of training to enable me to fly blindly through, and above, the clouds which I have successfully done many times since that day.
There are a couple of things I learned during that IFR training that will help all of us tonight as we struggle with the question of “Why?”
I was taught during my IFR training that when you have no visual reference to the ground YOU MUST TRUST the instruments on the aircraft’s panel. You must not trust your feelings or own intuition.
The instruments are there to carry you safely through the storm or fog! In other words, when you don’t have an answer – Trust!