Find Faith In God
In order to make it through the deaths of our children, we must live in faith that God is indeed working for our good even when we do not understand Him. In studying the Bible, there seems to no way around God’s command that we live, in faith, acknowledging this truth in our lives even when we don’t yet see the results of His work. The author of the Biblical book of Hebrews writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:1,6.
In searching the Bible, we find no exceptions to God’s command to live in faith in Him. There are no exceptions to God’s command that permit us to “take the wheel” at those points in life when disaster strikes. While there are many great examples in scripture of men and women living in faith, perhaps one of the greatest biblical examples of faith is the story of Abraham. In the book of Genesis we are told that God promised Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation—what would become the nation of Israel. But God took his time to fulfill this pledge. Not until well past normal child-bearing years did God finally and miraculously give Abraham and his wife a son, Isaac.
Later, when Isaac was still a boy, God commanded Abraham to take Isaac to a nearby mountain and sacrifice him. Genesis 22. Obediently, Abraham took Isaac up the side of a mountain. Amazingly, Abraham was ready to kill his own son, the son who would fulfill God’s promise to him. Then, at just the last moment, when Abraham’s knife was raised to sacrifice his long-awaited son, a ram was provided as a substitute sacrifice.
The story of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son ought to serve as a source of encouragement to us as we struggle to maintain faith in God. The story is indeed difficult to understand; in many ways, it doesn’t make logical sense. Like us, Abraham had the capacity for logic; he could have questioned or defied God’s demand because it didn’t make logical sense. But Abraham, without questioning God or his ways, was ready to be obedient to God, even to the point of the death of his own son at his own hand. In the book of Hebrews, we are told that as Abraham led Isaac up that mountain, he considered his son already dead. Abraham, “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” Hebrews 11:18-19.
Even though he couldn’t understand why God was calling him to sacrifice his son, Abraham had faith that God’s ways were better than his ways. Even Paul, the great Apostle and leader of the early church, could not explain God’s ways. In Romans 11:33-36, Paul writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable are his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?... To him be glory forever...” For both Paul and Abraham, living a life of faith does not mean understanding all of God’s ways, but trusting that God’s ways are indeed greater than our own.
In learning what it takes to make it through our child’s death, we must learn to live as Abraham did—in complete faith in God’s goodness. God doesn’t call us to have faith that He will only cause good things to happen to us, things that we would have wanted for ourselves had we the power to make these decisions. Sometimes, God calls us to trust in Him even through circumstances that were previously unimaginable.
Living in faith in God’s goodness now, following our child’s death, is much harder than we would have ever realized at the outset of our Christian faith. But even now, especially now, we are called to follow and trust God even though we cannot, as Paul says, “trace out” God’s paths for us. We are called to faithfully follow God through days of anger towards God, days of feeling emotionally distant from Him, or feeling betrayed or forsaken by reason of our child’s death. Even in those days, we called to turn in faith back to Him. We are called to not only intellectually believe in a loving and all-powerful God, but govern our own conduct under the strong conviction that God has power over all things, including the span of our children’s lives.
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