To Make Us Dependent Upon God
God may be using your child’s death to make you utterly dependent upon Him for your strength. If you were like me, your child’s death drove you to your knees. Your child’s death shattered your conception that tragedy and heartbreak is what happens to “other people.” Before your child died, you might have lived in the same “bubble” that I did. While tragedy might happen in the Middle East, or Haiti, or to anyone else on the nightly news, it doesn’t happen to me. But with the death of your child, your bubble has burst; so has your conception of self-reliance and self-determination.
The Bible teaches us that suffering can be used to break our sense of self-reliance and cause us to find all of our strength in God alone. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasized the humility that accompanies grief. He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:3-4. Rather than claiming that His followers would be blessed by health and wealth, Jesus claims that through suffering, His followers would be blessed be the ability to rely wholly and completely on God. Indeed, in the Gospel of John, Jesus audaciously claims that “apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. If only Jesus can provide us with the sufficient strength, then it is for our ultimate God that we should be relieved of the burden of self-sufficiency, so that we might turn to God and be fully dependent upon God.
In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul explains why it is that Christians are called to suffering. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Paul says, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raised the death.” To the extent that you, your family or your friends have cried out to God in tears, or even asked difficult questions of God for the first time, than your child’s death served a very noble purpose. For the first time, you, your family or your friends might have abandoned any sense of self-sufficiency. Joseph Stowell says, "Self-sufficiency is a terrible place to be because it is the worst deceit you can bring on yourself. You need God. You need God every minute of your life. I believe God knows that, and He desires fellowship and dependency from you, radical dependency in terms of your relationship with Him." Dr. Joseph Stowell, Grief Share, Day 258.
Through suffering, God rids us of our illusion of self-sufficiency so that we can become more dependent upon God. Through significant suffering, we can turn to the only true source of strength and contentment, Jesus Christ. James Hudson Taylor wrote, “May this be your experience; may you feel that the Hand which inflicts the wound supplies the balm, and that He who has emptied your heart has filled the void with Himself.” In these days of suffering, God calls us to turn from looking to our own strength to the one who ultimately gives strength. I hope that you find, like I did, that the death of your child has caused you to become more and more dependent upon Him, the ultimate source of strength and purpose.
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