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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Entrance Sign at Sandy Cove Retreat Northeast, MD
This sign is at the entrance to the Sandy Cove Retreat in Northeast, MD

"When It Just Doesn't Make Sense"

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"Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2). "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).

Last week we had a tragedy in our area. Brian Koch pastors a large church in the Reading PA area where Brooksyne and I have visited on several occasions for special events including an ordination service last month. Although I don't recall personally meeting him my brother knows him well. A former major league baseball player (Chicago White Sox), he now serves as an assistant superintendent in addition to his pastoral duties.

He and his wife were riding double on a motorcycle ride when they had an accident. She was killed instantly while he suffered severe injuries and remains in the hospital. They have three sons. We can imagine the turmoil this family is going through as well as the congregation.

The morning of the accident on June 7 the church had a special service honoring first responders. No one could have imagined during that service that the very first responder to the Koch accident scene was present in that special service.

Years ago Dr. James Dobson wrote a book titled, "When God Doesn't Make Sense". That's sort of a titillating title, but for many of us it does express well our own experience in the mysteries of God's providence.

Sometimes circumstances are very personal for our family and close friends. Virtually all of our readers can scroll back through their memory and recall such a time. My first exposure was as a child when one of my cousin's was in an accident and his wife died. I so poignantly recall my grandfather wailing. But there have been many "It Just Doesn't Make Sense" experiences since then and of course in regard to our pastoral and chaplaincy ministry we console frequently those going through various traumatic situations when it just doesn't make sense.

The most recent national news that is senseless is the mass murder of six women and three men during a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina last night. The gunman came in and sat down among the congregational members. Those of us who attend church are always welcoming to a visitor, but we would never expect that visitor to draw a gun and randomly shoot those who are there to worship Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

People, at any given time, are experiencing a heartache of some type that just doesn't make sense. Due to the size of our planet many never make the news or at most only the local news. I'm so glad there's a newsline to heaven not just at the instant the news takes place but even before we are to experience it.

For many, events like this either becomes a crisis of faith (for believers) or an excuse not to believe (for unbelievers).

Consider Stephen who stood boldly for Christ and was stoned. Afterwards, "Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him" (Acts 8:2). Have you ever really pondered this verse? Surely the emotions were no less intense for them than they are for us in our losses. To "mourn deeply" has the sense of great lamentation. The literal Greek meaning is "to beat the breast in grief".  Did they "understand" any better than we do? Surely they did not. 

Consider John the Baptist.  He was specially called to serve God from his very conception. He had prepared the way for and even baptized Jesus.  He had taken a bold stand for truth and righteousness before an ungodly king and was beheaded as a result.  Consider his disciples. They had the grisly chore of taking his body and burying it.  What were they thinking?  What a great test of faith they endured. Surely, like us, they wondered, "Why did God allow this to happen?"

Above all, consider the Lord Jesus Christ, who endured such opposition from sinful men and murdered on our behalf.

Some of you have experienced great loss in your life.  I myself have had some deep hurts and disappointments in life that I still simply don't understand. The life of faith is tested, sometimes greatly.  Jesus forthrightly told us, "in the world you will have tribulation" although we are generally surprised when we do experience tribulation!

But at times of tribulation like this, faith is also demonstrated in such a powerful way. I saw a news report concerning the first Sunday the church in Reading gathered after the accident that killed their pastor's wife and seriously injured their pastor. Already some amazing things are happening in the aftermath of this tragedy, although perhaps not reported beyond our area as the "newsworthiness" of the event passes. 

Today, may those of you impacted by situations that "make no sense" find great peace in these words from the apostle Paul, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).  He is indeed "the God of all comfort."

Finally let us again recall the great statement of assurance many of us have memorized in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." In some cases we'll just have to wait for the other side to see how it works for the good. Through it all, let us stay faithful and have a rich assurance of God's steadfast love!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father of All Comfort, I look to You for consolation and peace most especially during times of turmoil. Incredibly Your supernatural peace does not depend on the physical circumstances seen by my eyes or heard by my ears. You raise me up out of the gloom of despair as I place my hope not in the visible circumstances, but rather in You who renews my strength. You enable me to soar on wings like eagles far above the troubling circumstances that weigh me down. Keep my eyes, my ears and my heart lifted up to the heavens where Your divine presence combats the assaulting storms of life. I lift up all my brothers and sisters who are storm weary, asking You to renew their strength as You help them to endure the trials of life this day. Your comfort is inexhaustible and Your compassion overflows. Thank You, Father.  Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When Trials Come"
 Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

"God Still Has a Plan"
 Video  The Isaacs

"I Know Who Holds Tomorrow"  Video  
The Isaacs

"Heartbreak: Bryan Koch, Pastor Who Lost Wife Lynn in Deadly Motorcycle Accident Sunday, Still Doesn't Know She's Dead"  Story on Pastor Koch's accident in Christian Post

"GT Church holds first worship service since losing pastor." Article from Reading Eagle

"God Makes Sense Even When He Doesn't Make Sense"  By Dr. James Dobson Excerpt from his book "When God Doesn't Make Sense"

A Special Celebration

Thelma White retirement 6/17/15
Yesterday we attended a retirement luncheon for 85 year old Thelma White who retired from a company with 50 years of service! She has been a diligent, devoted and trustworthy employee of this company since June 18, 1965. A mother to six children she raised them as a single parent while keeping down this job and other part-time work. Thelma loves the Lord and raised her children to serve the Lord. They are all committed servants of Christ.

Finally today: On Sunday our friend Ken had a special gift for Ester. So after our church service he and his boys hopped in the back of our van for the very short ride over to his farmhouse. Ken is a farm hand and, for boys accustomed to tractors, wagons and pickup truck beds, riding in the back of our van was just one more adventure!
Ken and boys 6/14/15

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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