Death, Cancer, Sin & that Glorious Day
This past Sunday I taught on Psalm 46. It was a fitting cap to the previous week—grieving with hope at the loss of Becca, spending time with my mother-in-law as she starts chemo, attending a conference for pastors on the necessity of mortifying sin.
It was a week of strained emotions and the Spirit moving significantly in my own heart, doing his convicting work. In a significant sense, this is not the way things are supposed to be. Death and cancer and sin are aberrations, thieves that have broken in to destroy, uninvited wedding crashers.
And yet here we are. And here they are. The tension is high as we look in disgust at such shameful intruders. They kill joy and suffocate faith.
We cry out, “Why, Jesus, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” We pray and weep and hug and exhort and pray and lament and search.
And he answers.
“I, even I, am your refuge and strength. I am a very present help in trouble.”
And oh how he is indeed. He is not far off, observing the pain and sorrow and anguish from a comfortable distance. He is present to be a stronghold, protecting from the scorching sun, hungry birds, and strangling thorns. He is present to provide strength for the weary, not letting the bruised reed break or the faintly burning wick be snuffed out.
O, how very present he is. He is present in mediating grace through songs and hugs and tears, sermons and cards and hidden away verses. He supplies the very needed thing through a meal from a friend, the laughter of a grandson, the prayers of a daughter. He is there in the well-timed word, the early morning coffee with a brother, the steadily listening ear.
No, things are not the way they are supposed to be. But God. He is present. And one day—one day soon—the trumpet will sound, the skies will shine, and standing there will be our Beloved.
Death and cancer and sin will be no more. Refuges and strength and help will be no longer needed. He will be very present.
Maranatha. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.