Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Is Loss Part of God's Plan? by Jodi Whisenhunt

The Early Angels Ministry recently held its 2nd annual Mother's Day Dessert reception, an intimate gathering in the Hospitality Room with a delicious array of cheesecake bites,creampuffs, and fresh fruit. The sweets softened the tender wounds we mothers in this unique group share.

The loss of a child is a traumatic experience that leaves grieving families with multitudes of questions for our Heavenly Father. One such question I wondered after the loss of my daughter in 2002 was, "Is this really God's plan?" While in the midst of such extreme sorrow and grief, I could not grasp God's purpose. Over the 5 1/2 years that followed, however, He has allowed me to perceive portions of His "big picture". At the Mother's Day Dessert, special guest Bryan Doyle shed more light on this subject as he spoke on the account of Lazarus in the Gospel of John chapter 11.

I have called you friends. (John 15:15)

Bryan emphasized the friendship Jesus held with Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. They shared such amity that the sisters referred to Lazarus simply as "the one you love" when they sent word of Lazarus' illness to Jesus. (John 11:3) The description was enough.

As Jesus neared Bethany, Mary came to Him weeping. When He saw her, "He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." (John 11:33) He was so distraught over his beloved friend's death that He wept. "Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!'" (vs. 36)

Our God calls us friend, too. Our friend, our Lord and Savior, exhibited His great love for us when He died on the cross to pay the price of our sin. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) Proverbs 17:17 tells us that a friend loves at all times. His great love for us is evidence that He would not allow us to experience anything that is not part of His divine plan.

The murky fish tank of humanity

Bryan gave a great illustration of God's love. He said that several years ago he and his family moved into a new house. The previous owner had moved out a few weeks prior and left behind a large fish tank. Much muck had accumulated in the tank during the time the house was vacant, so Bryan decided to clean it.

Upon reaching his arm into the murky water, Bryan discovered one solitary fish remained. Bryan said that during the initial cleaning and every tank cleaning thereafter, the fish, nicknamed Freebie, was terrified of him. Freebie the fish did not understand that Bryan was trying to help him, that he cared for him and wanted to take care of him.

Bryan thought to himself, "How can I make Freebie understand I mean him no harm?" The only way, Bryan determined, would be for him to become a fish himself. Then he could communicate in fish language and put Freebie's mind at ease. Of course this was impossible!

Fortunately for us, nothing is impossible for our Creator! God, Himself, became human and entered our world. Jesus the Son plunged into the murky fish tank of humanity to demonstrate His great love for us.

Learning to fly

God has a plan for everything. He ordains every event as Jeremiah 29:11 states, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord." In the first chapter, the Lord assured Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart." (Jeremiah 1:5) Jesus tells us in John 15:16, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you."

He doesn't just turn us loose on our own, though. We must be trained. The song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32, verse 11, informs us that the Lord trains us, "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions."

The eagle builds its nest on the edge of a cliff. When its young are a few weeks old, the parent eagle stirs up the nest. It squeezes the young out of the nest and over the edge. The young bird flaps frantically as it freefalls. Just before it hits the ground, the parent bird swoops down and catches it, carrying it back to the nest. This process repeats until the young bird learns to fly on its own.

This illustration is a harsh reminder that sometimes God's methods are not easy for us to endure. Sometimes the jobs He asks us to perform are terrifying. Sometimes we flap our wings frantically, because the ground is fast approaching. However, the Father is always there to catch us. During the process, we grow and we learn. As Bryan said, you can't learn to fly when you're in the nest.

The Master Plan

"All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16) God knows us. He loves us. He chose us. He cries with us. He cries, because He understands. "Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love." (Lamentations 3:32) All that we are and all that we do is for God's glory. He invites us to trust Him with His plan.

As the reception drew to a close, Bryan opened it up for discussion. One mom mentioned that the passage of time does bring healing. God may seem to delay, but His timing is always right. It is our responsibility to trust Him and to wait on Him. Bryan said, "God does more in us while we wait than when we get what we are waiting for." While we wait, our Heavenly Father shapes us and molds us, "Like silver refined in a furnace of clay." (Psalm 12:6)

The Lord prepares and enables us to fulfill His Master Plan. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

No comments: