Our response to the death of a child.
Eph 6:2 "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--
Eph 6:3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Eph 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
Eph 6:6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
Eph 6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
Eph 6:8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
Eph 6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with hi
We have been stuying book of Ephesians and today we are looking at the whole context of raising Children. Paul says that our children are to honor their parents, so that it might go well with them, and that they may enjoy long life. And I indeed do believe this scripture to be true, that we are to bring our children up, so that all will go well for them, and they will enjoy long life.
We only have to look at society to see many children who do not honor their parents, and because of it, they are rebellious and things go wrong for them, and for many their lifes are cut short. They cut their lives short by abusing drugs, alcohol, sex, fights, accidents etc. Things go wrong for them because they break the law, and get in trouble. Also though, as parents we are called to be gentle and kind with our children, not causing them to be angry, to be embittered, in other words bringing them up the way they should go, as Christ would have us live.
But what are we to make of it when children die young, when young lives are cut short through sickness and accidents, through misscariages etc. and today, the thrust of my sermon will beon this topic.
I must admit I feel hopelessly inadeqeuat to preach this today, it is a subject I don't truly want to preach on, yet I also believe it is a subject I must, and indeed as a preacher, feel God wants me to address today. Please lets pray that God will give me the humility to speak today, the words to say, and the compassion to say it with, and will help us all to recieve encouragement, comfort, and strength from it.
I must also begin this sermon in saying that I know my few words today will not be enough, that they will not address all the issues, that indeed we can only touch on a few of them, and yet I hope that from my few words, the few points I do make, that we can be encouraged to look to God to answer all I have not answered.
For many of us, we have been praying for a young girl by the name of CCCCCC, whose mother is a friend of AAAAA and BBBB, and who died during the week after being taken off lifesupport, I know of others who were praying for a very sick teenager, a child of a work mate, and who still passed away from leukemia. How are we to deal with this, what are we to make of a God who tells us to pray, and if we believe, we shall recieve what we pray for, and yet when we put it into practice, it seems that he has not heard us pray, what are we to make of God, what is our reponse to be if we suffer a misscarriage as has happened to many, and in one case, a married couple whom we were ministering too at church a few years ago, had nearly carried her daughter to full term, finding she had died shortly before she was born.
The first point I want to make is that all life is a gift from God.
The book of Genesis tells us about the world and the universe in which we live, it is a book of life, a story of creation, a story that tells us of Gods power and might, in that he asked spoke us into being. He made the water, the land, the air we breathe, the birds the fish, the vegetation, the sun and the moon, the stars, and he made us and he breathed life into us. He breathed life into us, commanding us to multiply and fill all the earth.
I was having a conversation with a person not long ago who was very sceptical about Gods supernatural power and gifts, and i said to that person, "That is because you are starting with making man, the centre of the universe and not God. We are technically supernatural, and God is the natural one, and all that comes from God is natural."
I want us to keep this point in mind, because I am going to come back to it.
But back to the main point. All of life comes from God, and death was never part of Gods plan for us. Then sin, happened, and from sin, death resulted, sin caused the death of many things, it caused the death of relationship between man and God. We read how sin seperated Adam and Eve from God, and they no longer had the relationship they once had with him.
Sin resulted in the death of humans, man was made to live forever with God, in relationship with God, and sin caused a break in that relationship. Non of us can escape living in a world tainted by sin. All of us are affected by it.
We can be the most holy of people and still be affected by sin, take for example, Cain and Abel, Able was a righteous man, and yet sin caused his death, not his own sin, the sin of his brother caused him to murder Abel, and so sin was the cause of the breakdown of relationship between the two brothers, and sin was what caused the death of Abel.
The second point I want to make is that because of sin, we will all experience death.
There is a saying, The one thing we know for certainty when we are born is that a time will come when we will die. I want to change this saying, I have used it many times myself, and perhaps you have as well, yet last night when I was revising these words, I felt challenged that it was not true. Life does not start at birth, life truly starts at conception, and I would like us to keep it in mind, that the one thing that we know from certainty that will happen is that we will all face death, none of us are exempt.
For some it will be much later then others, and for us all it will be something that is specific individualist to us all. All of us will face death, and all of us will experience it, and all of us will experience the grief of what happens through death. But what is it that makes us so sad when a child or a young person does die, what is it that tears us up so much inside, and makes us question God and the fallen world in which we live, even more so than what it does for us when a person who is much older dies.
I think there are a few reasons, and one is that we don't like to be reminded of our mortality, and children remind us of the hope for mankind, for the hope of life.
The second thing is that we don't like being hopeless, when children die, it makes us feel helpless, it makes us feel hopeless, that what was the point of it all. we don't know what to do, or say. We like to be able to put things neatly into boxes, and yet when it comes to death of a child, we just don't know what to say, we don't know what to do, we don't know .... and we don't like that feeling of hopelessness
The 3rd point is that we feel betrayed, especially when it comes to belief in a merciful God, a God of love, a God who answers prayers, we have this sense of loss, we grieve, and we ask oursleves and others, or hold it in thinking I was praying, how could this have happened. Why did God not answer my prayers.
What do we do when it appears God does not answer prayer.
Firstly I want to say that God indeed does answer our prayers, and yet he also knows the future, he knows what is going to happen, in the future for each and every one of us. And he answers our prayers in regards to the knowledge of the future. A good friend of mines child died when he was 12 of leukemia, and they prayed, they fasted and for a while the leukemia went into recession and then returned with vengence. His son, had a vision of Jesus coming and taking him home. My friend says, that they knew in the midst of their pain, that God showed them that he had heard their prayer by causing their sons sickness to go into remission, and then showed them that it was his will to take him home to himself.
I read this story a few years ago and it stuck with me, and for me it helps in answering the question about the death of children.
A mothers child was very sick and asked the local minister to pray for her child, and after praying to God felt that God wanted to take the child home to himself. The mother refused to accept it, and gathered around herself many people to pray and fast and the boy lived and grew to be a healthy boy. Only on his 2st brithday, she had to watch him walk up seven steps to the gallows to be hung for the crime of a bruatl murder he had committed. I believe that God wanted to spare this lady the grief of what was to happen.
In the same way, God knows the future and i believe that often he wants to spare us from the future pain, which could be much much more than what we could bear for now.
yet we also have to be careful in not blaming it all on God or ourselves, sometimes sickness, death can be caused by the devil, he is a murderer, a theif and a liar, and sometimes it can be caused by a demonic presence - give example of clem in hospital ....and we must be a discerning people of God as to what is the source of sickness.
So what are we to do in response to death
What are we to do then. As christians our response is to be honest, to be honest with each other, to be honest with God and to be honest in our community. We are to be honest in our pain, in our anger, in our confusion, and to allow ourselves to truly cry. And we the people of God are to continue to trust in our living God that he is a God of mercy, a God of comfort and believe that some good will come out of all this. We are a people in relationship with each other, and so we need to continue to pray for oneanother, to comfort oneanother, to be there for oneanother, and to continue believing that God is a God of comfort and hope. and We need to continue to share with others the hope we have through the very real relationship we have with the risen Lord.
Earlier I mentioned about the conversation, I was having a conversation with a person not long ago who was very sceptical about Gods supernatural power and gifts, and i said to that person, "That is because you are starting with making man, the centre of the universe and not God. We are technically supernatural, and God is the natural one, and all that comes from God is natural."
Death is really a illusion, for us our real life is not here on earth, it is in heaven with God, a eternal life, a life of no weeping, no sickness, no death, no sadness, we will spend all of eternity with the author of life, with the creator of life, with the source of life.
and our job on earth is to bring others to the knowledge of this author of life, and that is what Jesus said, I have come to bring life, and abundant life at that.
This has been a difficult topic for all of us, and as a father I pray daily that God will protect my children, will heal my children, and will help me as a father to bring my children up they way they should go, knowing full well that my children are in our Gods hands, and there is nothing we can do to prevent any thing from happening to them, except to bring them up before the lord in prayer, in expectation that indeed he does and has listened to our prayers.
Let us pray.