Forever Grateful

February 2, 2003

FOREVER GRATEFUL by Ray Pritchard The precise details of the following story have been slightly changed for the sake of privacy. But the lesson is eternal. The letter came from a friend whose husband is slowly dying. Both husband and wife know the Lord and both of them know what is ahead. She writes to say that her husband has good days and bad days, but “he is still strong, and he and the Lord have some more time for him to be on the earth.” She has been thinking lately about how many days he may have left, and wondering how her prayers fit into God’s plan. Would it be better for her to know the day when her husband is going to die? In some ways, she thinks the answer is yes, because that way she could be fully prepared. But is that a selfish way to pray? Is this just a “control” issue? In her heart she knows the answer. “I absolutely want the Lord’s timing and know that he will prepare me and be with me through all of everything.” Then she adds these inspiring words: “I am sooooo grateful, Pastor Ray. Just to know that, whatever happens, how and when and where, God has it planned and blueprinted!!! What a God!” There is a great deal of good theology behind those words (and even those fervent exclamation points). While surfing the Internet this week, I came across a sermon by David Coffin, pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church, in Fairfax, Virginia. In his sermon “Our Times are in His Hands,” he comments that there are in fact terrors all around us. “There are forces all around us that can dash our hopes in an instant.” Sickness is one such force, and death perhaps is the ultimate example. “But God has a purpose for so ordering the world. It is in such a cauldron that He refines His people. It is precisely here that God purifies that which is good and cuts away the rest. It causes us to cling to Him, to the one unchanging certainty in our universe.” Pastor Coffin comes to exactly the right conclusion when he says, “The only remedy for calming our minds is to rest on the God of providence. We are under the governance of God. The storms of the world will continue to rage, but God has overcome the world.” I like that phrase–“the governance of God.” He’s always in control. My friend has come to that same triumphant certainty: “So Pastor Ray, God is still as Big as ever, still in control, and loving and holding us all close and will remain always in however we need him. I’m forever grateful just as the song says.” This is not wishful thinking, but the conclusion of a believer who has trusted in the Lord. Solid doctrine leads to grateful living even in life’s hardest hour.

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