"Everything is necessary that He sends and nothing can be necessary that He withholds." John Newton
This quote from our pastor's sermon on Romans 8 last Sunday are hard words and require untmost dependence in the absolute goodness of God and trust in His sovereign care, especially when what you think is necessary is withheld. Otherwise you would go mad to think that the sovereign Creator of the universe is powerless to stop or thwart evil.
Modeled by God when He sacrificed His son on the cruel, terrible cross, Christ's death was necessary. And, it was not necessary for Him to withhold Jesus's dying on the cross. Where would be be if Jesus had not died?
Why is this doctrine of the sovereignty of God a comfort? This same sovereign God is the One who holds, comforts and calms every troubled grieving, deparate soul in the deepest, most tragic loss imaginable.
How else could you handle the murder of a husband and two teenage children, son 17 and daughter 15? The doctor mother was away from her family at the clinic in the town of the country where they were living, caring for the people they had come to serve. Now, this country was the grave of her whole family. She arrived home to find it all gone – the radical terrorists burned the building they lived and worked in after killing her husband and two teenage children. It was all gone.
Can you imagine the shock, the horror? Her whole being screaming for mercy; inside the pain was so intense; thoughts begging that this was not true; racing for a place to land her thoughts that is peaceful and not fraught with this stark reality of loss, death and separation. Surely my family is safe somewhere else; surely this is not happening.
What has happened to this dear family could be multiplied over and over again in this century and in previous centuries – through wars, famine, plagues and devastating destruction. The news of this family’s tragedy came from a colleague who knew them.
As my friend told me the story it became my burden as well… the grief, the dark sadness of this kind of loss, a deep desire to pray for her in her loss. Even though I do not know her I can enter into prayer for her that God would meet her as only He can. I can pray that the body of Christ would come to her aid and great fruit for the Kingdom would be borne out of this deep sorrow, redeeming the senseless evil. Prayer is the way I can handle this deep loss. As a mother and wife it is impossible not to identify deeply with the journey this young widow, doctor is going through.
How else can you handle disappointed, death, distrust but to fling all the questions on to our sovereign Lord and trust that in His time He will ease the deep pain and surround you with evidences that life does go on and good,justice, and peace will triumph in the end. This is not an easy journey, certainly one you would NEVER choose to live through.
I connected the sermon quote with the tragedy I had just learned about the week before. And the quote from the sermon made me curious about the life of the author…who could pen such words?
Interestingly the background of the life of the author of the above quote gives some insight on God’s redemption over evil. John Newton (1725-1807), born in London July 24, 1725 was the son of a commander of a merchant ship which sailed the Mediterranean. When John was 11 he went to sea with his father and made 6 voyages with him before his father retired. Through various circumstances John Newton himself became a sea captain and subsequently was heavily involved in the slave trade from Africa to England. Through specific circumstances of God ‘s convicting and drawing Him to faith, he ultimately became a pastor and wrote many hymns that we still worship God with today – Amazing Grace being one of the most familiar.
His life is an example of God’s redemptive power over evil.
The epitaph on John Newton’s gravestone which he wrote says: “John Newton, Clerk (Preacher) Once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the Gospel which he had long labored to destroy…” the remainder chronicles how long he ministered in the church there.
May God give us grace to embrace His sovereign place in our own lives.