Find Purpose In God
Before the death of our children, we projected a bright future, a future with many good and laudatory hope and dreams for our family and our now-deceased children. Now, with the death of our children, there is no way to see these dreams fulfilled. The life we thought we had ahead of ourselves has been taken away. If you are like me, the loss of these hopes and dreams has resulted in despondency, anger and bitterness.
Because God’s sovereign strength will ultimately allow God to accomplish his purposes for us and for our children, we ought to emulate Jesus by living in meekness, rather than self-determination. Since we can rest in the assurance that God is defining the purpose of our lives, we don’t have to lay awake at night trying to define, or redefine, the purpose of our life or the life of our deceased child. Rather than becoming bitter and angry that our hopes and dreams could not now be fulfilled, we can emulate Jesus in his humble meekness towards God, knowing that it is God who ultimately defines and fulfills our purposes in life.
Here, again, in looking to the scriptures, we find Jesus as the necessary and sufficient source of strength to address our despondency, anger and bitterness. As previously noted, Jesus made a number of bold, counter-intuitive claims on his Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon, Jesus made the claimed that, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5. “Meekness” is defined by Webster’s College Dictionary as, “humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.” Jesus himself is the personification of meekness. Jesus, being the son of God, deserved human acclaim. Yet rather than fighting for what Jesus “deserved,” Jesus followed the direction of his Father and went to the cross. Rather than doing it his own way, Jesus said to the Father, “Your Will be done.” Matthew 26:39.
God wants us to live in the same meekness that Jesus exhibited. While He doesn’t call us to die the same physical death that Jesus died, God does call us to trust that God is powerful enough to work our life circumstances in such a fashion that the circumstances will ultimately turn out for our good. Author Carolyn Arends writes about how to be meek. She says, “It isn’t the experience of being misunderstood (or suffering or poverty) itself that will undue us, but rather the sense that we are enduring hardship to no good end. …We discover there is no wasted effort or pain, because there is nothing that God cannot redeem.” Carolyn Arends, Wrestling with Angels, Christianity Today, Feb. 2010.
To be meek means that we live every moment as though God determines the value of each life circumstance, not me. If I determine the value of both my life, generally, and each and every life circumstance, then not every moment will be beneficial towards reaching our self-determined goals. To the extent that I kick and scream when things don’t go my way, or a stab someone in the back “to get ahead,” or lay awake at night scheming plans of revenge to someone who has wronged me, I live a life of self-determination. Self-determination is really faithlessness. If we don’t believe that God will redeem all of life’s trials, then we will anxiously guard every passing moment and life opportunity, because these moments will define our purpose in life. To the extent that we fail in claiming victory in each of these passing moments, as defined by our own, self-determined goals, then we will either need to consider ourselves as failures or re-define our meaning.
God calls us not to engage in such self-determination, but to live in meekness. I am living in Christ-like meekness if I live in faith that God was not “asleep at the switch” when our children died, but that He accomplished His purposes for our children in the short time we had together. There is no doubt that fighting the fight of faith is difficult work. It is with great labor that we must strive to live in faith, to look beyond our seen and transient circumstances and to trust in what is unseen and eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18.Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.
To take on the meekness of Christ is to rest in God’s purposes for my life, and to believe that no life opportunity is wasted. We can fight the emotions of bitterness and self-pity by realizing that the purpose of each of our life circumstances is defined by God, not by us. With God’s help, we can rest in Christ’s promise from the Sermon on the Mount that, in Him, we will inherit the earth, together with our children.
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