September 6, 2014
My eyes welled up with tears when I heard this news, and I have wrestled with a question this week - Why would God allow a vibrant 34-year old wife, mother and motivated kingdom worker to be taken away so early? She had work to do and she was energized to do it! I was quickly filled with responses that could come across as platitudes - "God's timing is perfect", "We can't fully know the mind of God and His plans for His people", "God is good and good things will come out of this tragic event", "She loved Jesus and is now resting in His arms." These words, because they arise out of knowledge of God's Word were comforting, yet they didn't seem like enough. I was seeking an answer that would comfort me deeply as I thought about the comfort of my brother Juan and the comfort of his three young sons.
Romans 8:28 always comes to mind when something like this happens.
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."What does this tell us about suffering? As believers in Christ as our Lord and Savior, it gives us great assurance for our future and it gives us comfort even in our present suffering. We are not promised earthly comfort; in fact, we are promised that as Christians we will suffer, perhaps even a great deal. The comfort comes in our continuing conformity to Christ. Through Him we can have closer fellowship with God, through Him we can bear greater fruit for the kingdom, and through Him we are assured that our future glory will be so much greater than our present suffering.
I also was comforted by Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."Our experiences of God's comfort through our suffering enables us to bless others in their suffering. Paul experienced great suffering, and it gave him great empathy in serving others.
Perhaps the most comforting thoughts are the promises God makes to us throughout Scripture concerning the eternal state of the believer. 2 Corinthians 5:1 says this,
"For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."When believers die, they exchange their fragile, tattered bodies for brand new and perfect bodies that will last forever and never wear out.
Marbely no longer waits for her perfect body; she no longer waits for the suffering to end; she no longer waits for perfect fellowship with God. She is experiencing this glorious prospect right now! Praise be to the God who comforts us!
Written by Mark Diener
Global Missions Director