A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to the funeral the wife of a teacher at my new school. I didn't personally know this family but I had heard so much of their faith and just wanted to go. I got their early (I know, shocking) and watched as at least 800 people filled the seats of the E-Free church in Lethbridge to celebrate another faithful life and mourn the void left by this loss.
Something began to occur to me as I sat there and attempted to make sense of the events of the past few weeks. When does the world see Jesus?
My first experience with death (second hand experience obviously) was during my first semester at Bible College. I received the sudden and tragic news that my goddaughter Jani, a 9-month old baby girl from our church, had passed away suddenly of meningitis. I struggled to and failed to make sense of this tragedy. People always seem to say, “There’s a reason for everything…” but from personal experience, it unfortunately seems to offer little comfort in a grievous moment.
After some months had passed, I remember her mother standing in front of the church saying, “I’m here today to tell you that God is faithful.” I’m fairly confident that she hadn’t had a revelation answering the questions of why this had happened, but she didn’t seem to need to. I sat there and thought, if she can say that God is faithful, it really must be true.
The teacher at my school sent an email out to all the staff members at the school after his wife passed away, which eventually circulated in and out of educational and basketball circles throughout Canada. I don’t know how many thousands of people read his words, but they were truly a testimony of God's faithfulness. Only hours after his wife passed away he typed these words: “I am trusting that God will grant me the grace and wisdom to provide enough love to my kids to make up for the void that is now here. I have faith that He will see it through. That he wants me to trust him one step at a time.”
I was so encouraged and amazed by the strength granted through faith. This man has a 6-year old son, 4-year old daughter and newborn baby to raise now by himself, and seemed to be approaching it with a heavy dose of extra-strength faith. He concluded the funeral service by sharing his wife’s testimony of how she came to faith in Jesus Christ in University- carefully pausing to explain all Christian jargon to ensure that the message of hope was clear and the reason for her secured home in heaven. I sat there amazed at how many people- many who would probably not voluntarily be in a church otherwise- were there hearing about the faithfulness of God!
I cannot begin to understand nor am I trying to explain the why’s of so many tragic and early-seeming exits from this life but go with me just for a second here. During my dad’s journey with ALS, I had always assumed that a miraculous healing would have most definitely brought God the most glory. Until recently, I didn’t pause to consider that maybe, just maybe, my dad’s unwavering faith through one of the most disabling diseases out there could have glorified God, possibly more than a miracle healing? I don’t have the bird’s eye view of the mysterious ways of God but would it be possible that the faith of God’s people through the storms of life bring more glory to Him than a miracle?
I think the world sees Jesus when His people see Him. When a mother who has lost her baby girl can say, “God is faithful,” and when a widower and single-dad can say, “I have faith that He [God] will see me through,” and when a man suffering and dying from a horrible disease says, “Don’t let this discourage your faith in Christ. Following Jesus will leave no regrets,”- that is when the world takes notice and says, this Jesus must be real.
In the words of John Piper, God is the most glorified in us, when we are the most satisfied in him.