The Reality of Death & the Knowledge of God

Part of my purpose in having a blog is to, prayerfully, minister through it to my church family at Calvary Baptist Church in Oswego, IN. Today’s post is for them.

We have suffered two deaths in our family between Christmas Day and New Years. How my heart aches for my friends, their families and my co-workers in ministry here at CBC! Two very different circumstances and two same realities of the permanence of death in our lives. I’ve lost two friends, both much older than I, but a very real part of my life just the same. One: a partner in aches, pains and speaking of hope; the other: a commonality of knowing trucks, warehouses, physical labor and the satisfaction of working with one’s hands.

The first, Glenna Shuter, was the mother of one of our deacons. She had a simple faith but a deep faith. Every Sunday we spoke, we spoke about the real aches and pains of this life…and we always ended our conversations with a reference to the hope that we have – that we will not be stuck in these bodies forever. My last conversation with Glenna was last Sunday morning: Christmas Day. We spoke of how God was helping us through some physical bumps in the road, and then before we wished the other a “Merry Christmas” we briefly reminded one another of our Blessed Hope. I didn’t know that Christmas Day would be the last I would see her. The second, Carl Sattison, was my type of guy. He knew “blue collar” work. He hadn’t been raised on easy street and he worked for everything he had. He drove trucks full of “swinging meat” from Ohio to New York regularly. We spoke about driving and warehouse employees (I was that stereotypical receiver back in the day) and just about the satisfaction realized in a full day’s work. His family describes him as “simple” but that isn’t derogatory. He was a man with whom you knew where he stood, and how he saw things.

Glenna passed quickly and fairly unexpectedly. Carl waged a battle over the past two years that wore his body down and began to deteriorate his mind. They both left holes in my life, and the lives of our church family. They were both “good people”.

Today, before I went to Owens Family Funeral Home in North Webster to begin to sit in on some of the arrangements for Carl’s memorial service, I read Psalm 139. Its funny how we run back to the familiarity of certain passages when we are hurting, isn’t it? Let me give you seven quick observations from Psalm 139 that should encourage us during this time of grieving and loss:

  • Psalm 139:1-4– Our God has intimate knowledge of every aspect of our life
    • God knows us in our personality & individuality
    • God knows us in our mundane activities of life
    • God knows our thoughts, desires and mindset
    • God knows our activity and inactivity
    • God knows what we would say, even before we utter it
  • Psalm 139:5– Our God completely encompasses us by his presence
    • God goes before us, surrounds us, and has his hand on us
  • Psalm 139:6– Knowing this, I am completely overwhelmed
    • Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it
  • Psalm 139:7-10– Our God will not abandon us, or let us escape his care
    • I cannot flee from God’s Spirit or presence
    • I can attain the greatest heights, and God is there
    • I can burrow to the lowest lows, and God is there
    • I can rise in the earliest morning, and God is there
    • I can isolate myself on the most remote part of the sea, and God is there
    • I cannot separate myself from God’s care for me
  • Psalm 139:11-12– Our God is not phased by what frightens me
    • In the darkest times of my life, God is my Light
    • In what I perceive as overwhelming, God remains in charge
  • Psalm 139:13-16– Our God is sovereignly a part of our life from before conception, through pregnancy, into birth and through the entirety of our lives
    • God made me exactly as he desired – I am no mistake
    • God made a masterpiece when he made me – I am fearfully and wonderfully made
    • God made several comments in a book he has about my life – he ordained every day of my life before I ever drew a breath
  • Psalm 139:17-18– Knowing this, I am completely overwhelmed
    • How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, i am still with You.

While not a “traditional” passage about death or the hope we have in the midst of our grieving, this Psalm should provide comfort. Not only does God have intimate knowledge of me, but he has intimate knowledge of my loved ones. He makes no mistakes. He was not surprised this past week in the home-going of Glenna and Carl. He wasn’t surprised in the suffering or the suddenness. He wrote the book of their lives – laid out before eternity their paths, physical make up and intertwining in our own lives. I can trust a God that big. I cannot handle this life on my own, but knowing that he knows what happens next is a great encouragement to me.

Knowing the intimacy of God in our lives, even in seasons of grief, should spur us on to praising him for his being absolutely in control of our lives, and our loved one’s lives. Take time this week amid the visitations, the memorial services and the ministering to the Shuter and Sattison families to give God praise – for the good things he has done!

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