Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Token Agnostic

Sadness Man In The Shadow by George Hodan
in the public domain
A few days ago a friend told me of her 'token agnostic' friend.  She said he declared himself an agnostic when his wife died.  "I can't believe in a God that would let my wife die so young and before her time," I believe is how he put it.  Then my friend offered her observation that the untimely death of a spouse seems to either drive someone far away from God or draw them much closer to God.  Truer words were never spoken.

While many would offer this man sympathy for the loss of his wife, fewer can offer true empathy.  Surely one would have to suffer a similar tragedy to truly understand what a man goes through when he experiences such great loss.  But I now find myself in the place where I am uniquely qualified to sit down with this self-declared agnostic, and with a heart of compassion and understanding, explain to him why his wife passed from this Earth.

Such a great and tragic loss could have driven me far from God...

If you do not know me or have not seen me for a while, you may not know that I buried my dear wife, Stephanie in June 2015.  She was only 38 years of age and her death was unexpected.  And I would venture to say that few couples loved as intensely or cared as deeply for each other as Stephie and me.  Besides being spouses and lovers, we were truly best of friends!  And such a great and tragic loss could have driven me far from a God who would let a wonderful person die at such a young age.  Or, I could find myself running into the arms of a loving and compassionate God to find grace and peace at the most desperate time of my life.

It is true that I grew up attending church and have served in the ministry.  But it was not my ‘religious’ background that drove me toward God in my time of need.  Rather, it was the very need itself; a crushing and devastating loss from which I knew not how to recover.  Had it not been for a loving Heavenly Father, I would not have been able to face that horrible day, or the days, weeks and months to follow.  And it is God and God alone who has given me the peace to move forward with life.  And not only move forward, but continue on with hope and expectation of a wonderful life.  See, while I do not know what tomorrow holds, I do know who holds tomorrow.  And I know He loves me and has a plan for my life… STILL!

And so, having presented my unique qualifications, I now offer an answer to this self-proclaimed agnostic’s question of why his wife died.   Sir, your wife died because she was mortal.  Likewise, you and I are mortal, and will follow our dear wives in death.  In the Bible a very wise man known as the Apostle Paul said, “This mortal shall put on immortality.”  He went on to say that when this happens, then DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!  You can read this for yourself in 1 Corinthians 15:54.

The truth I wish to share with you, Sir, is that your wife and my Stephie are not really dead.  Not really.  Oh, they are no longer mortal, and walking with us on this Earth.  But their death – the death we witnessed and mourned – was swallowed up in victory!  At least if they knew Jesus Christ as their Savior it was.  I know Stephie knew Jesus.  I pray your wife did also.    And I pray you also would come to know Jesus, so you too can one day see your mortality swallowed up in victory!

Come on, my friend.  Let’s run to God together!