*How do I talk with him? What on earth do I say? Is his love for God dependent only on God having the ability to provide physical healing? These are the thoughts going through my head in January as I prepared to have a discussion with Bud. By this time, I knew Bud loved God, I believed he was already fully justified. Due to some poor theological views surrounding him I wanted to make sure his trust, love, and knowledge of Jesus stayed assured. I decided that the main talking points for that night would be God’s sovereignty, the glory to come, the grace of God, and how we have a limited perspective. The following parts to come I have compiled a lot from my study/thoughts for and from these conversations. These were useful for my talks with Bud, as well as comforting to me after his death.
The Sovereignty of God
Some people like to diminish the importance of God’s sovereignty. That would be a fault to do so. It is a big deal. It is important. In moments of pain and suffering believing in God’s sovereignty has the power to completely change your entire perspective. It’s that important.
God is completely Sovereign over everything. If we diminish that we diminish the whole gospel. Do you agree with me that God is in control of everything? If He is, and He is, then that means God is with us. That means in every moment of pain and anguish, God is right there with us. When I cried out in pain to God about Bud’s pain, God was there. When Bud was moaning in agony, struggling to breathe- God was there.
God being in control of everything assures us He is not only with us, but for us. This is huge. God being in control of EVERYTHING provides assurance to us that one day our suffering will be over. No matter how much pain we feel or how much sorrow we experience from grief- one day it will be over.
God is not sometimes for you. He is not 99.99% for you. He is completely for His people. This is why you see the beauty of Romans 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Don’t miss the next point of why the sovereignty of God matters. In your pain, rejoice in God’s sovereignty. God being 100% sovereign means that Satan and sin has already been defeated. That is why, in the middle of receiving terrible news, we can rejoice and praise. The book of Job shows us, as readers, that Satan doesn’t have real power.
It will end. Hold onto that. God being sovereign guarantees that one day suffering will end. Grief, suffering, pain, heartache all collide at the cross. Sovereignty is showcased to the world at the cross. God is in control of every single detail surrounding the cross. Jesus rises from the grave and says to every person in the world who trusts in him, that suffering will end. It may not be immediate. It might not even be years down the line, but it will end. How do we know this? We know because there is coming a day when the King of all Kings will wipe every tear from your eyes, and there will be no more sin, no more sorrow, and no more sickness. God is sovereign so that is a guarantee.
I know there are levels of suffering beyond comprehension. I don’t want to even assume I can relate to, or understand extremely deep levels of pain, and suffering. But no matter what happens, I will hold on to the sovereignty of the cross. The sovereignty of God brought together with the suffering of Christ- yes suffering, with the intention being to glorify God and save your soul. I can’t get over this. God provides salvation to sinners through the suffering of His son. That’s love. This gives hope. One day we will be with our King forever, and ever, and ever, and ever!
Suffering is not our end! This is what the cross shows us! Bud was in pain the day he died. I shared some of his experiences. I want to be honest; I left some of the most disturbing and painful details out. There are things I can’t bear myself to write out. I shared the statistics of cancer in part one, so many of you probably understand. Not to mention the unthinkable types of suffering out there. Some people overseas experience severe persecution, torture for years and years until they finally breathe their last breath. I recently heard a story of a family whose middle school aged daughter drowned in the bath tub. Painful, heart aching, unbearable, suffering. Suffering is not the end! God is the end! Through all the tears poured out in pain- this pain is not the end- God is, because of the suffering that He went through. The end of suffering is not our sorrow or tears- the end of our suffering is God. We will see Him and be satisfied in Him. This is what the gospel teaches us through the cross.
The Gospel is telling us, we don’t want stuff, we want God. More than our comfort, safety, happiness, possessions, or anything of this world, we want God. This is why, at the end of our suffering, we are fully satisfied. He is our reward, and if suffering is a way we can know Him more, then we should welcome and embrace it as a means to our reward.
The Glory to Come
We hold onto the sovereignty of God, which means we can count of the glory to come!
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the first fruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.
In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?
He did not even spare His own Son
but offered Him up for us all;
How will He not also with Him grant us everything?
Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?
God is the One who justifies.
Who is the one who condemns?
Christ Jesus is the One who died,
but even more, has been raised;
He also is at the right hand of God
and intercedes for us.
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:
Because of You
we are being put to death all day long;
we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers,
things present or things to come, hostile powers,
height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
I want to share a quote I have absolutely fallen in love with from Stephen Charnock . When I first heard this quote I had to write it down. It is beautifully describing the reality that Bud is experiencing RIGHT NOW.
“When we enjoy God, we enjoy him in his eternity without any flux. … After many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites. When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance; he will be so far from ceasing to flow, that he will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of himself in glory to the creature. God is always vigorous and flourishing; a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire; forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction; with an infinite variety, without any change or succession; he will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them; this will be the fruit of the enjoyment of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God.”
Wow. It’s one of the most beautiful quotes I have ever heard. We will never get sick of God’s glory. It makes me so excited! It makes me want to get as many people as possible to one day experience this.
As I stated earlier, because of God’s sovereignty we know the ending. God is in control, we already know the beauty to come.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
We know the ending to the story! We know the ending to the pain. Praise God, Bud has eternity to worship our Lord!
I want to live everyday based on five words in the very next chapter. Revelation 22:4 “They will see His face.” This is our hope. This is what I want to hold on to. It is worth the pain we feel to one day get to this moment. Can you imagine! New Heaven, New Earth, every tear wiped away, no more crying, no more sin, and we will see His face!