Mercy in the Midst of Mourning
Starting off the New Year is not always an exciting time for some people. Some are forced to enter it without a person who has meant so very much to them – a child, parent, spouse, or even a friend that has been closer to them than anyone in their family. They know that life without that person is not going to be easy.
I was reminded of that truth when the first weekend of this year I went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life with my friend Ray.
Ray has been a close friend of mine for twenty years; so close that we often shared how our relationship resembled David and Jonathan’s in the Bible – although we haven’t agreed on who is David and who is Jonathan yet. He has joined me on some of EvanTell’s mission’s trips and—with both of us being avid hunters—we have enjoyed the outdoors together.
On this most recent occasion, we were in the second day of our annual hunt together in Mississippi. As we were driving to the hunting area that afternoon, Ray received a call that every parent fears most. His 48-year-old special-needs son had just died of a massive heart attack. What added to the hardship was that Ray’s wife had died just six months earlier from a brain aneurysm.
However, even in the midst of these tragedies, he was able to see the presence of God’s mercy in some very special ways.
The Right People at the Right Time
Ray shared how He was thankful God allowed me to be there with him when he received such traumatic news. To have your closest friend near during such a tragedy was indeed a mercy from the Lord.
Due to my speaking schedule and how I need to plan so far in advance, that hunt had been on our calendars for six months. God’s timing to have me there with Ray when he received such news was something that Ray and I will be talking about the rest of our lives. There is no other place I would have wanted to be than right there with my best friend in that moment.
Ray experienced a similar mercy when his wife passed. During that trying time, God brought three godly women into his life to help him care for his special-needs son. Experienced in working with special-needs people, they knew how to assist Ray with the around-the-clock care his son had always needed. They were also there to provide the comfort Ray needed when that son passed.
The Peace, Presence, and Promises of God
We all knew because of the promises of Scripture, they were both in the presence of the Lord – which is perhaps the greatest mercy of all.
Ray’s wife had trusted Christ as her Savior, and Scripture gives evidence that someone like his son, who mentally could not understand the gospel, is in God’s presence. When David’s son died at birth, David said, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (II Samuel 12:23) That’s why, although we grieved, we did not need to sorrow “as others who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13) We will see them again in the presence of the King. What a day of rejoicing that will be.
Furthermore, the Great Comforter was present with Ray every step of the way. The Bible is unmistakably clear when it states that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) The peace that God provides simply cannot be provided by anyone else in the midst of tragedy. It surpasses ALL understanding and is to be treasured in times of trial.
The Family of God
Another way God’s mercy was so evident was through Ray’s brothers and sisters in Christ within his church family. Ray has so many friends who know the Lord that are going through this adjustment with him – one day at a time. His tears are their tears, and his hurts are their hurts. Some days will be harder than other days, but everyday will be easier with all of us surrounding Ray to help him work through the grief.
God’s grace as it flooded over Ray during the hardest time in his life was amazing. God always gives His grace right when we need it and seeing the grace of God sustaining him and all of us was an awesome experience.
The New Year can be tough – and some are simply not looking forward to it because of the loss of a loved one. But the mercy of God is always evident as we look at how God’s Hand has and is working. Through the grace of God, a New Year may not always be exciting, but it can be bearable. As He comforts us, we are then able to comfort others. (II Corinthians 1:4)
Do you know someone who has experienced a great loss but doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus? Consider using our “Praying for You” resource to reach them with your words of comfort and the greatest comfort of all – the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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