My Dear Friends,
The Lord in his wisdom and grace has not isolated his children from what the apostle Paul calls ‘the sufferings of this present time’ (Rom.8:18). We live in a fallen world, a world that bears the indelible marks of its fallenness in the troubles, trials, sufferings and death that were the fallout of Adam’s rebellion in the garden of Eden. Life for the Christian can be hard, very hard. That hardness is seen in the conflicts that have engulfed Christians in the Near and Middle East in recent times. But the hardness is no less seen in the heartbreaks that Christians experience in the daily routines of life.
One of the greatest heartbreaks that anyone can experience in life is the death of someone precious. When that someone is a baby, just born or yet to be born, the heartbreak is almost unbearable. Our church has entered into that particular heartbreak with the death of Jonny and Jackie’s baby daughter, Leila. For over eight months Jackie has carried this precious, God given life with increasing joy. Jonny and Jackie have looked forward with the greatest delight and expectation to being parents once again. But it was not to be. The Lord in his loving, perfect wisdom decreed that this ‘little one’ would not enter into life in this world, but enter life in an altogether better world.
At times like these we can do no more than say with Job, ‘It is the Lord’. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. His ways and his thoughts are higher and holier and wiser than ours (Isa.55:8-9). It is here in the midst of a broken heart, with seemingly unending tears, that our trust in the Lord is most put to the test. Our calling is to ‘live by faith and not by sight’ (2Cor.5:7). To live not on the basis of what our eyes see or our feelings say, but to live lives that draw their truest breath from the love of God displayed on Calvary’s cross.
Because our God is good, he will never cause his children a needless tear. Here in this ‘veil of tears’ we see through a glass darkly (1Cor.13:12). But one day ‘face to face’ (1Cor.13:12). On that day, God himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Death and mourning and crying and pain will be no more. Then, our God will make all things new (Rev.21:4-5).
Our covenant children are precious to their God. He formed them in their mother’s womb (see Psalm 139). He is their God. One coming day, there will be a reunion to eclipse all reunions, the reunion of God’s saved people in all the ages of history, from Adam to the Lord’s return. What a day that will be. We will surely recognise and know one another, but the half has not been told!
There are few more glorious sights than seeing broken hearted believers confessing that their hope before God rests alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have seen that, and we as a congregation have seen that, in Jonny and Jackie. Their sorrow is our sorrow. We share if only a little their pain and weep with them at their loss. But our great Saviour has conquered death. He has brought life and immortality to light in the gospel (2Tim.1:10). So we rest on him, the God who spared not his only Son for us, and who will, along with him, graciously give us all things (Rom.8:32). To God all praise and glory.
With my love and fellowship in the sufferings of Christ