A Sacrifice of Praise

Losing someone you love and admire 12 hours before you preach an Easter sermon isn’t an experience I’d wish on anyone, but it has produced some profound revelations for me.

The main revelation is that in the midst of grief and suffering and pain, God is still worthy to be praised. No circumstance, no matter how devastating, changes the Good News of Jesus’s resurrection and ascension. Death died on Friday – Jesus lives on.

“Precious in the sight of The Lord is the death of his saints… I will offer a sacrifice of praise,” says David in Psalm 116. A sacrifice is a sacrifice because it costs you something. Choosing joyful worship in the midst of grief is a costly sacrifice. Confessing God’s Goodness when everything in life seems contrary to that requires faith. The enemy wants to crush our spirits – he can’t stand the Light of Life and Hope in the human soul; so we weather his storm and shine all the brighter for the darkness.

I’m reminded that we live in the unshakable Kingdom of God. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken in our lives, so that everything that is not of God will fall away. What remains standing when the dust settles is a priceless treasure – a Kingdom, full of faith, hope and love, inhabited by saints who love their Lover more than life itself. The world isn’t worthy of such beauty.

I’m so proud of how we’ve handled Beverly’s sickness and death. I’m glad we fasted, prayed and believed for her healing. I’m glad we arranged meals and help for the family. And I’m amazed that we were able to worship together this morning with arms lifted high. Well done church.

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Pain Will Not Define Us

We’re 22 hours into our 24 hour prayer watch for Bev. I’m sitting at church listening to Rend Collective Experiment’s “The Art of Celebration.” One phrase in particular stuck out to me in the first song – “pain will not define us”.

Pain will not define us. No matter what happens to Beverly, pain will not discolor our view of life or of God. Pain is not the final word.

We are a people of joy, a people of prayer. We are a people with Resurrection Fire burning in our hearts. We are the Light standing in defiance to the darkness of despair. We are more than conquerors through the Risen Son of God. We will not bow to the inferior power of death.

“Take heart, I have overcome the world,” Jesus says. “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die.”

Though we mourn at death, we don’t mourn as those who have no hope. Death is never the end for the people of God. Death is our final rebirth into the Kingdom.

I am still believing for a miracle for Bev. And I’ll continue to believe and hope and fight and pray until The Lord tells me otherwise.

I’m thankful for you, church. I’m thankful that all through the night the Saints were praying. I’m thankful that we are a people of prayer, a people that contend for those we love, a people that believe God still works miracles. Well done friends.