For a Young Husband and Father
The Everlasting Arms
Chuck's sudden, premature death brought to mind some lines of Omar Khayyam's old poem "Rubaiyat":
Ah Love, could thou and I with fate conspire
To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire,
Would we not shatter it to bits, and then
Remold it nearer to the heart's desire!
Today this poet might be speaking for us. For were it within our power, we'd shatter this sorry scheme of things and remold it nearer to our heart's desire. We'd bring Chuck back; we'd work things out differently.
But of course, that isn't our decision to make. If we could change the outcome, we'd be like God himself. Instead we state here our trust in the God unto whom our souls return. As Christians, we believe that God is good, that he loves us and that he's with us not only in this life but in the life beyond the grave.
In Psalm 139, the psalmist speaks of God knowing all about him and being present everywhere with him:
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away. ...
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in [the place of the dead], you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
We cannot deny that Chuck's death is tragic, especially at so young an age. You feel his loss deeply and will continue to do so. We wish things could be different, but we thank God that he always and forever loves Chuck. In confidence, we leave him in God's hands.
Your memories will be important to you now. Chuck will be present in your memory even as he's present in a more tangible way with God. To Chuck's children - Mary, Louise and Georgie - you can remember your father as someone who cared enough to sign an organ donor card so others might benefit in case he died. Remember, too, the example he set in his business - honorable work, honorably done.
Alice, you can remember a loving husband, especially as a wedding anniversary approaches. And Helen, you can remember a loving son. I'll point you to two short Bible verses. The first is Isaiah 66:13: "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you." Although we commonly refer to God as "Father," this verse gives a maternal image of God. It's good to know that God comforts us in the way a loving mother does.
The other verse is Deuteronomy 33:27: "The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (RSV). Note here that God's arms are mentioned not as being around us but beneath us. A tragedy like Chuck's death can make you feel like the bottom has gone out from under you. But God's arms beneath suggests that he's there to catch you.
God won't let us fall and keep falling. He has placed his loving arms underneath because we need his support. John Greenleaf Whittier concluded one of his best-known poems, "The Eternal Goodness," which is about passing into eternity, with these words:
I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.