As I write this thought, we are all concerned about the spread of a virus that has already killed thousands. Events and responses change day to day and sometimes even hour to hour. Of course, we have to prepare this magazine months before you read it, and I cannot predict what will happen in the meantime.
But I have a thought to share that comes from a sensitive grandson. He has not been insulated from the reports and concerns we have all heard. He noted that the people who are most at risk are older people, like his grandparents. At one point he turned to his mother and asked, “Are my grandma and grandpa going to die?”
It’s a question that, even if unasked, may be on the minds of many children. Almost certainly the question morphs in the minds of adults who think of their own older parents. It even becomes quite personal in the heart and mind of those who are at greater risk—the elderly with underlying health challenges.
This seems to be one of those teaching moments—a question that provides an opportunity to share some important truths. I think there are at least two.
First, the answer to his question is a simple “Yes!” Everyone’s life comes to an end at some point. Grandparents die and leave ragged scars of loss and pain for all those who remain. But that answer is cold, heartless, and even cruel. It lacks sensitivity.
Another thought needs to follow: “Grandma and Grandpa know Jesus. So whenever he decides to take them home to heaven, they will be happy with Jesus even if we are sad they are gone.”
We are, in all situations, in the hands of God, who loves us.
Those thoughts, I think, should guide not just Christian children but also Christian adults of all ages. We all live here temporarily. The writer to the Hebrews wrote of the faithful who were “longing for a better country—a heavenly one” (11:16). “Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (13:14). The gyrations of the financial markets may shake that vision but not change it.
That brings me to the second truth. We are limited in what we can control. The storms of life happen with only the most immediate forecast of their arrival. Like the weather, long-range forecasting is vague and unreliable. The only things we might forecast far into the future are that someday we will die and that during our wait—long or short—we will have troubles. Paul reminded the new Christians on his first missionary journey, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
That response may be equally cold, heartless, and insensitive. But another truth needs to follow. We are, in all situations, in the hands of God, who loves us. His love is clearly revealed in his suffering and death for us unworthy and often wayward people. We call him our Good Shepherd (John 10 and Psalm 23), our fortress (Psalm 46), and our rock (Psalm 61) for good reason.
We may take these truths for granted when the sea is calm and the sun shines brightly on our path. But when the way is hard and long, we return to these truths to calm the storms within. Perhaps we need those difficulties to turn us again to treasure these important truths. Then we renew our goal to live as disciples, loving those dear to us while we have time and opportunity here on our journey home.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 107, Number 05
Issue: May 2020