Rejoice?

In his book ‘To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain’, Matt Chandler shares the story of when his son, Reid, was a little over a year old and while in his crib had a seizure and was unable to breathe. He writes:

The day when the ambulance disappeared out of my sight, knowing that God is God – that nothing is too difficult for Him, that His love and His sovereignty are real – was my foundation. When my heart and mind wanted to go to every plausible reason why despair made sense, the fact that nothing is too hard for God became my reason, my rationality. 

This is why the mature Christian is reasonable. Because, as Paul says, “the Lord is near,” even in a desperate situation like the one I described. Because in that moment, here’s what I had at the ready: the knowledge that the God of the universe, the God who rescued and saved me, is not Himself powerless at all in that moment, is not at all surprised or shocked by that moment, is not reeling one bit or trying to figure out what to do in that moment. The God of the Bible is not an ambulance driver who shows up after the wreck and hops out and thinks, Okay, let’s do some triage here. The God of the Bible does not show up after the accident and try to fix it. That’s not what He does.

He’s there. He knows.

And on that day, the Lord was near, and my son’s life was not too difficult for Him to save. He could be trusted with my son. Reid was and is His. My wife is His. My daughters are His. I am His.

My prayer, then, is, “Lord, help me rejoice in You in this moment. Because I know You are in control. I know You love me; I know You love my family. And I don’t understand what You’re doing, and I don’t know how things are going to work out. But help me to acknowledge that if I have You, I have everything.”

My prayer in that moment, seeking joy in all circumstances, is similar to Job’s – “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:!5) – and Jehosephat’s – “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:20).

Now, let me be very clear, because I’m not trying to make this whole exercise stupid. I didn’t sit in my car with an idiot grin on my face, saying, “Well, I’m glad the Lord’s here, and this is great! Rejoice in the Lord always; and again, I say rejoice!”

That wasn’t happening. That’s what we might call an unreasonable theology. God is not glorified when you act happy about horrific things. 

He’s glorified when, in the deepest possible pain you experience, you still find a way to say, “I trust You. Help me, because my heart is failing in my chest. Help me! My son is Yours. His soul is Yours. His life is Yours. You loaned him to me for Your good to begin with. And I know I’m supposed to hold him loosely, and if you take him home, he’s Yours…but I’d like to keep him.” 

I am still learning what rejoicing in God looks like for me in my life, but I hope and pray that I will be able to have an attitude like this amongst the pain.

xx zs

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