Difficult Questions

There was something incongruent in me, something perplexing that I couldn’t get to the heart of. I had not properly grieved for Samuel; the Lord was not through with the entire process and with letting me know of his loving-kindness and compassion as a Father. I had not learned to be weak so that God would be strong. Even as I write this now, I see waves of empty stares within many in churches who have not learned this either. Many men, particularly, struggle with this reality, and their hearts are deceiving themselves. Oh, let the Spirit wash over us and humble us.

I’ve alluded throughout this book that I have had three liver transplants. I’ve experienced a lot in life and actually was blessed to write a book about two of the transplants along with a host of other things. I’ve experienced the loss of family members, even a close brother a few years ago, performed funerals for close friends, and experienced the worries of life. I speak not as a person who understands fully the depth of God, and I write too on a journey with you to understand God more fully in the course of our trials.images

I want to see God’s glory break us free from the shackles of lies that we have believed when it comes to the Lord’s sovereignty in trials. But please understand that I speak from a place of experience, not giving me greater wisdom, but simply asking the reader to give me a platform of trust. I will not talk about pain and not having gone through pain myself. I hope you trust me in this. I have and will continue to struggle through these things; it takes great faith to believe. But praise God, faith is a gift, a treasure, that has been given to us. It is not something we muster in us. So with the faith that you have been given, let’s grapple with some of these issues.

It takes an act of God to carry us through difficult things, and though by no means have I completely understood everything, I seek humbly to reveal to you what the Word of God says about some of the issues I raised and struggled through. I wish I could wave a magic wand that would cause many of us to open our eyes to the reality of weakness and the freedom we have in being weak (which needs to be qualified), but alas, it takes the formation of the Spirit, not the formation of our flesh.

Samuel’s life would have been a waste, truly, if it were not for the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is indeed safe to say that God was glorified in the life and death of my son, particularly as I look back on it, yet I also know that some would still argue that God may have been more glorified in the healing of my son.

Perhaps the biggest question on my mind, and perhaps yours as well as you contemplate your own trials and pain, is this: Was the death of Samuel truly within the realm of the sovereignty of God? Is your disease, your sickness, your hurt, and your loss within the realm of the sovereignty of God? Is it in God’s control or providence? I ask this question because to me it is the fundamental aspect to understanding the safety net of weakness and strength that we can fall into. The implications run deep; if God is not sovereign, then indeed we are left with questions that will never be answered and a host of new problems that arise. If God was not in control of the events of Samuel’s life, then that would mean many of the things we find ourselves flung into are dependent upon our own wisdom, technology, or strength to endure. And if this is the case, what would be the point of the glory of God in our lives save to make a weak God stronger due to our faith? It would also imply that God would need us in some capacity to fulfill his will, that God is at war with a very strong and capable foe in the form of the devil, and the outcome, though bloody, would seem to be God’s. What security is there in this? God cannot be at the mercies of the situation, wholly dependent upon us, but is far beyond and above.

However, if Samuel’s death, my transplants, your pain and loss, addictions, and frailties are in the realm of God’s sovereign plan of redemption, then by faith don’t we understand that God is allowing these things as in the case of Job 2:3? Is it not our duty then to press this truth close to our hearts, not judging God based upon our limited view of our trials, hide it in our hearts, and allow the Spirit to show not only the truth of it to our minds, but our hearts as well? If this is the case, shouldn’t we seek to justify Christ in all of life’s circumstances as his perfect will is displayed throughout history for his glory in our lives? Is he not the author and perfecter and finisher of our faith? And since he is perfect in all his ways, shouldn’t all that is dealt to us be used to glorify God and cause us to run to him for security and refuge, even when we do not understand? Do we think God cannot take our questions, that he is insecure in any way, and that our demands in this life will somehow make him angry with us?

Excerpted From – Nineteen Days, Wrestling with God in the Death of my son, by Daniel Parkins

Samuel and Christian

Today marks the 21st of March, or thereabouts, and I can’t help but be paralyzed by two realities very near and dear to me.  The first is that Christian is now sixteen days old and is cause for celebration.  His round face is beginning to become even more rounded with the added weight of a mother’s nutrients and his lovely eyes are becoming even more blue as each day passes.  His umbilical chord fell off which means we can begin to give him submerged baths, and his cries, however cute they may be, are growing seemingly louder and louder by the minute.  He also only woke up twice the night before, and gave Kelly and I some much needed rest.  He’s only sixteen days old, and already so much a part of our family.

I remember another boy who was sixteen days old, not too long ago, who was very much a part of our family.  But remembering when Samuel was sixteen days old, though his rounded face was framed by liquids unnatural and disheartening, gives my heart a sense of longing again.  I see Christian, and within Christian, I see Samuel at times.  But of course I do.  He only lived for nineteen days, but in those days we had loved so passionately.

Oftentimes Kelly and I, trying to comfort Christian, have called him Samuel because of varying reasons.  I can’t quit explain it, but Samuel will always be a small baby to us; we will never have the joy of raising him.  And knowing this, because Christian is still within the stages of his older brother when he passed away, still encompassed within the same images of Samuel, I think those images are just so close to us in memory.  For so many days and hours we stared at Samuel.  Now, we have what we believe to be a lifetime with Christian and as his face begins burning our vision, like an image too long on an old television, we continue forth knowing of the faithfulness of our God.  Christian is not Samuel by any means, and though we miss our son who passed over a year ago, we move forward with the joy of this new bundle of our hearts eager to see a future lived with him.

It is hard, but this is life isn’t it?  It will forever be marked with joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, and to ask for anything other than this in life is to ask for something beyond what the Lord has planned.  We grow through the pain, we grow through the trials, we grow through our own weaknesses in seeing that God is all in all.  God has taken all our fears, all our failures, all our heartache and all our pain, all our burdens, all our troubles and shame and tears and placed them within the very bosom of redemption through Jesus Christ.  This is our God; He is our hope, He is our healer, He is our freedom, He is our refuge, He is our justice and He is with us.  God is love, and we will forever praise Him.

All creation sings of your Glory God, all humanity is a display of your glory and each one of us, who have called on the name of Jesus Christ to be saved, are meant to worship and adore you.  I bless your name this day Father.  You are my song, my hope, and my everything; rich in so much love and mercy and unfailing in every way.

I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.

We will forever praise You.

A Different Perspective

What is the greatest miracle?  As I ask the Lord above for help and healing during this time of distress, as I ask for the strength to get through this, I have to wonder at the heart of anyone’s resolve if they prayed for healing alone; as if healing is the greatest end to our lives.  I know the heart behind many of these prayers for my healing is wonderful and loving, but in my own approach to the King, I have to peal back the layers of cultural lies I have believed and ask again, what is the greatest miracle?  I think we are often deceived if we think that our health, wealth, or prosperity is the greatest end, is God’s will for our lives, because truly, isn’t the root of it a desire of happiness in our lives that has become and idol?

I pray for healing in my body, but always with a desire for the glory of God to be revealed in the fulfilling of His will.  But there are arguments that I hear time and again that physical manifestations of God’s healing or provision are things we should desire above all else.  But shouldn’t we desire the greater things; the greatest miracle?  Is healing in my body the greatest miracle that I could pray for?  As we see in Christ, was the greatest miracle that He did raising people from the dead?  Was it feeding the five or four thousand people, or walking on water?  Was it causing others to see when they were once blind?  And if these miracles happen today; are they the greatest manifestation of the Spirit moving in our lives?  Honestly, what is the greatest miracle?

John 14.12 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”  Was Christ here talking about greater manifestations of the Spirit in those who believe in him that they would do?  I think it is obviously not that; for He did so many miracles and signs, that the writers of the New Testament couldn’t record them all.  John 21.25, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  I’m not sure the Holy Spirit is prone to exaggeration.

So when Jesus says that we will do greater things, what did He mean?  Was he talking about greater amounts of healing or greater numbers of people raising from the dead?  Is it the amount of healings or raising that He is talking about?  I don’t think so either for we have no idea truly how many miracles He performed; humility in us must see Christ as the greatest man to be ever used by God.  No, the greatest miracle, therefore in which he was talking about was the miracle of salvation.  This indeed is the greatest miracle.  This is the most profound, the most eternal.  Why?  Because the simple act of turning a heart of stone to a heart of flesh is the greatest way in which God receives glory; the more and more people to fall in love with God.

Therefore, even in this situation with what I’m going through currently, with still not hearing back from the doctors and almost finding comedy from this, would I merely pray for healing, I would be praying for a wonderful miracle, but I would not be praying for the greatest.  Our lives are meant to give glory to the King.  They are not meant to be happy in our American sense of the word, but as we thrive in relationship with Christ and abide in His Word, we become more like Christ in our lives.  We become what we worship (be that money or whatever).  And as we become more like Christ, we do not pray to be removed from any crosses as the primary prayer, but pray the Lord receives the glory in our lives from those crosses as the primary prayer.  Praying for healing isn’t wrong, but it all must be done within our hearts desire for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  And heaven is constantly giving glory and proclaiming the glory of the Lamb who was slain.

I want healing yes.  But more than that, I want the Lord to receive the glory in our lives.  Oh let this be the hearts cry of this generational Church.