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"After The Storm; Joy Comes In The Morning"
"Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2). "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).
For the last couple of days we’ve written about storms; preparing for them and enduring them. Today we want to consider our response after the storm passes. I had considered using a text following the literal storm recorded in Acts when Paul was ship-wrecked. Following that storm they all made it to shore alive. These kinds of testimonies are great.
But we know it doesn't always work out that way either in the Bible or in our own lives, either in literal storms or figurative storms. People, both the godly and the ungodly, do die in storms. I read an overcoming testimony about a man who lost his entire family in a flash flood in Kansas.
In a couple of weeks we have a mission conference here in Lancaster and Gracia Burnham will be one of the featured speakers. She, along with her husband, Martin, served as missionaries in the Philippines with New Tribes Mission, which proclaims the gospel in inaccessible and dangerous areas of the world. On May 27, 2001 they, along with several others, were taken captive and held for over a year by the Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. That year was a horrible storm for the Burnham family as Martin and Gracia were persecuted, beaten, and deprived of their human rights.
But that storm of captivity ended on June 7, 2002 for the Burnhams. Martin was killed in a rescue attempt and Gracia was wounded but recovered. At the time of his death Martin's brother expressed faith in God and the sufficiency of God's grace as he, along with all of Martin’s family, sought to overcome their grief. Gracia went on to write a book titled, "In the Presence of My Enemies" and tells how God sustained them in their enduring trial.
The daily text is a brief and perhaps overlooked description of the burial and mourning for Stephen following his stoning. But it sure gives a perspective on the human impact of his death. Read it slowly. "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him." Surely the emotions were no less intense for Stephen's family and friends than for us in our loss of loved ones. To "mourn deeply" has the sense of great lamentation, "to beat the breast in grief". Did they "understand" any better than we? Surely not. After all, God was certainly able to deliver Stephen and give him more years on this earth.
Stephen was the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture. Since his death there have been millions, chronicled by well-known books such as "Foxe's Book of Martyrs" and "By their Blood". The Voice of the Martyrs does a great job of reminding the church of modern day persecution. Each has a family, friends and loved ones that mourn deeply and ask the oft repeated time-old question, "Why?"
But the church goes on. As Jesus said, "The gates of hell will not prevail against it." As believers Stephen and Martin Burnham are with the Lord they served. As we followed the story of the Burnhams in the news we prayed often for their release and then for Gracia and the family after the unexpected outcome. Certainly based on her upcoming testimony at the missions conference Gracia is continuing steadfast in her faith! We have wondered if perhaps one of their children will be a missionary to the very people that held their parents captive. Another missionary martyrdom in my own lifetime resulted in a remarkable "rest of the story" (Jim Elliot, Nate Saint).
Some of you are in the weeping process following a storm. As believers we understand that weeping may endure for a night (or a season), but joy comes in the morning. And it surely will. Let us stay faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, it is through contemplation, memorization and application of Your inspired Word that we prepare ourselves for the spiritual storms that arise on life’s journey. It is also Your Word, Your Spirit, our faith, prayer, and the loving support of our brothers and sisters that will sustain us as we endure the painful torrent of the storms. As we remain joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer we will not give up but continue to grow and mature in our spiritual walk after the storm has passed. Keep us safe, secure, and ever-hopeful as we rest in the hollow of Your loving hand. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Another ice storm photo from yesterday!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources"If You Could See Me Now" Video Truth We used this song at my Mom's funeral service five years ago. A powerful and comforting perspective after the very difficult "storm" of caring for her the last several years of her life on this earth. (Note: Whoever made this video attributes the song to Don Moen but I am pretty sure it's sung by a group called "Truth")
Click on the link to open and play.
"You Are My Hiding Place" Video Selah
"All My Tears" Video Selah
"It Won't Rain Always" Video Janet Pashcal
"Mighty In The Land" The testimony of Robert Rogers, who lost his family in a flash flood.
Gracia Burnham Information about her ministry.
"Voice Of The Martyrs" A ministry reminding the church of our suffering brethren.
For Lancaster area readers here's info about the 2011 Lancaster Missions Fest Conference. It will be in Lancaster on February 18-20.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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