Held Together in Grief

by Sean Perron
by Sean Perron

The doctrine of providence is deep enough to bring comfort during life’s most grievous tragedies. Even the deepest cuts can be soothed by the sovereignty of a kind God. Consider the terrible pain of the death a loved one. The doctrine of providence may be one of the only balms in the midst of such pain.

In his systematic theology, Michael Horton begins his chapter on providence by quoting Colossians 1:16-17. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” These verses are packed with the providence of God even though they do not explicitly mention ways in which God works in creation.

Colossians 1:16-17 confirms that God is not absent from suffering. God crafted the world and is still intimately involved with it. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. This means that nothing occurs apart from God’s involvement. God does not watch us grieve from the sidelines. He is present, active and near.

If a couple loses their child, the doctrine of providence found in Colossians 1:16-17 can hold them together. They can be comforted knowing that Jesus reigned as Lord before, and he continues to reign afterwards. He has not left them to face tragedy alone. They can rest in the fact that the same Jesus who created their child is actively working in this situation. Jesus is involved and those grieving are included in the verse “In him all things hold together.”

God is specifically identified in these verses. It is Jesus who is holding all things together by the word of his power. This same Jesus suffered brutally on the cross to endure the curse of sin. Jesus knows what it means to weep and he knows what it means to writhe in pain. Jesus did not suffer in vain, and he will reverse the curse on this scorched earth. One day soon, all that is wrong will be turned right. Until then, let us draw near to him with our grief and have him hold us together.

Letters to a Young Engaged Man: Squeeze Tightly, Hold Loosely

by Sean Perron
by Sean Perron

Dear Young Engaged Man,

There are a great line of men and women who have gone before us. Godly relationships, beautiful marriages, and stories dripping with a sweet fragrance to God. Yet every sweeping romance story must come to an end. Some stories carry on throughout the years and pass away peacefully on a bedside. Others are jarred unexpectedly and brought to a screeching halt.

To be honest, I feel totally inadequate to write to you on such a topic as the death of a loved one. I cannot imagine losing the wife of my youth. The thought of Jennifer dying is something I cannot yet fathom and something for which I barely know how to prepare.

While pursuing Jennifer, my dear friend Rob Coleman would often remind me about the brevity of life. Hold the things of this world loosely Sean, do not cling to them too tightly. Don’t make Jennifer an idol. Christ is sufficient and soon everything else shall pass away.

This world is fading and along with it even the most precious gifts. There will come a time when the brown eyes of my bride will grow dim and her soft hands will go limp. Thoughts of this future moisten my eyes and press against my heart. And if I am not careful, my world will become as dark as the inside of her casket.

The only thing that brings me hope in the midst of such thoughts is the gospel of Jesus. This world is not my home. Nor is it the home of my bride. Marriage is a wonderful thing, but it is not the most beautiful thing. You see, you will soon lock your arms with a fellow Pilgrim. You will soon whisper sweet nothings into the ear of a sojourner. Do not fight death, for Christ has already conquered it. Live this life holding loosely to the hand of your bride, ready and willing to offer her hand back to Jesus.

Jesus has prepared a place for her to dwell. If it were not so, he would have told you. Honor Him and “live your married life as if you were not married.” “Love your wife by hating her.” Such odd sayings of Jesus and Paul aren’t they? Yet they stick in the mind and guard the soul from clinging too closely to this world.

It is a joy and unexpected gift from God to be engaged. It is a joy and cherished delight to walk through life hand in hand with your best friend. Do not fear death or let it rob you of the thrill of glorifying God today. Glorify God by enjoying Him in all things and above all things. Both are possible and the Bible commands such happiness in our lives. Glorify God by enjoying the moments he has given you and the gifts he has bestowed upon you.

Laugh with your fiancée, flirt to the appropriate fullness and buy her beautiful flowers. But be satisfied in God above all these moments. Dig your joy deep into what cannot be taken away. Dip your bucket into the eternal pleasures of God and drink from His fountain that never dries.

There will come a day for us when time will stand still and her grave will be occupied. And we will mourn like we have never mourned before. But we will not despair like the world does. We have a loving Father who grants eternal hope and raises our dead. On that Day, we will be grateful he gave us the grace to enjoy precious moments on earth and to ground our hope in Him above all.

So for now, enjoy Him in all things and above all things.

Or to say it a different way, squeeze her hand tightly but hold it loosely.

Until then,
Sean

 

The content for this post has been expanded into Letters to a Romantic: On Engagement which will be released in 2017 by P&R Publishing.