Goodbye Ordinary

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us. Isaiah 63:7

A Lesson for the New Year January 6, 2009

Filed under: Faith,Grief,Life — Lori @ 3:03 pm

We were blessed to have had our friend, Jim Capaldo, give the sermon at our church this past Sunday.  Jim and his wife Kari are missionaries – lately of Siberia, but now in Alaska.

I loved his sermon, which was a great exposition of 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12.  The main idea of his sermon was our having a kingdom mindedness.  Sometimes I get so focused on God’s future kingdom, I forget that his kingdom is right here on earth although it is not complete.  Here is the text and his outline:

1 Thess. 2:9-12  For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

In order to develop kingdom mindedness in ourselves and others we must place utmost value on proclaiming the gospel to people. (v.9)

Kingdom question – This year, what will people learn from me about the value of the gospel?

In order to develop kingdom mindedness in ourselves and others we must behave rightly toward people. (v. 10)

Kingdom question – This year, what will people learn from me about right behavior?

In order to develop kingdom mindedness in ourselves and others we must model father-like care for people. (v. 11)

Kingdom question – This year, what will people feel from me?   (v.11c)  Do people recognize through my actions that I care about them?

I loved the sermon, but Jim made one comment in relating a personal story that stopped me in my tracks.  I will give you some background of a struggle that I have had lately so that you can see why this was important to me.  Recently in a study on prayer I wrestled with the element of thanksgiving in our prayers.  One night during my prayer time I tried to only pray thankfulness.  For instance, if I thought of my husband as I was praying I would voice something specific that I was thankful to God for regarding my husband and so on through my prayer time.  Of course, something that always comes to my mind as I pray is Grant and our loss.  I told God that I could not be thankful for losing him, but that I genuinely thank Him for all that He did to sustain us and comfort us and grow us because of it. 

I have a good friend who battled breast cancer and has been cancer free for about a year.  I have heard her say that she is thankful to God for her cancer because of how it has changed her life and all that she has learned through it and the opportunities she has been given to proclaim Christ because of it.  I completely respect her in this thinking and I believe it is the right way for her to look at it.

I have asked God if I should thank Him for allowing/purposing Grant’s death – however you want to say it, because I believe with all my heart that nothing – not even one leaf falls from a tree – outside of God’s providential, sovereign design and will.  Does He really want that or expect that of me?  I seriously have wrestled with that.  I will tell you that I have honestly from my heart told God that I am not capable of doing that.  As I said before, I can certainly thank God for all that He has done through Grant’s death and how He has made Himself known to us in intimate and special ways through this trial, but I could not thank Him for Grant’s death.

Jim was talking about some special people in Siberia (Tuva) that he had the privilege of discipling and working alongside during their time living there.  The culture of Siberia is not generally accepting of Christianity or people who become Christians.  These people face persecution and sometimes physical retaliation for their beliefs.  Jim said that he was standing by this one man who had been beaten because he proclaimed the gospel of Jesus.  He spoke these words to Jim, “He is worthy.” 

That so spoke to me.  How do I view the hardships of life?  Do I proclaim that Jesus is worthy of my suffering?  Honestly, I felt put to shame that I would not immediately say that in my trials.  Why is that?  First of all, I think we Americans (myself included) live in a culture that reveres success and happiness and we do not have a correct view of the Christian life that is plainly talked about in the New Testament.  Jesus said that we WILL have trials.  We WILL suffer.  We will have a final reward in heaven, but heaven is not promised for our time on earth.  We will have blessings in this life, but not necessarily what the world sees as blessing.

I Peter 5:10  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

Secondly, I think that I do not have a correct view of the worth of Christ – the gospel.  If I held Jesus in the esteem that I should – understanding His sacrifice in my place and that He suffered and was humiliated and was separated from God to pay for my sins.  If I really thought about that I would be able to say, “He is worthy!” in any and every trial that comes along in my life.  And that is what I SHOULD be able to do.

Romans 8:17,18  And if we are His children, then we are His heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. But what of that? For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!

So, I realized that I don’t need to be thankful for losing our son.  What I need to be able to do is to say that Christ is worthy of my suffering.  It is an honor to share in the suffering of Christ.   I will be praying this year that God will give me the ability to give Him glory in all things.

A song that we sang as a family days after Grant’s death and that has continued to mean a lot to us is Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redmond.  The words are:

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Lori

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