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A Lasting Lesson

 

Tragedy has rocked our church family this week.  Last Saturday, we lost Luke Storey, an eighteen year old with a passion for fixing things; a kid with a bright future ahead of him.  Our church family has spent the past several days trying to come to grips with this sudden and most heartbreaking loss, shedding countless tears and trying to make sense of a situation that is unexplainable.  I too have had to process this loss.  Luke was one of our brightest.  He was, in many ways, a future leader in our church.  I had the privilege of baptizing Luke, and at that time, I knew that God was going to do great things through him.  And He did.  And He still is.

 

As strange as it might sound, Luke is having just as big of an impact on people in death as he did in life.  Our students are coming together in a way that they never have before.  Our church family is leaning on each other in an entirely different way.  People are communicating in fresh ways.  I have a deeper appreciation for God’s people.  I attribute all of this to Luke and the life that he lived.  His death was not in vain, and I am comforted by the fact that the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 8:28 are being lived out:

 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (NIV)

 

While we certainly wish that there was a different way, we cling to the cross and to the fact that God is using this situation to bring good to His people.  I am reminded that God never wastes the tears of His suffering saints, and so our responsibility is simply to point people to Christ through our tears and to look for the good in the bad.

 

When tragedy strikes, it seems that everyone automatically feels like they have to find just the right words to say to the family in order to bring them comfort.  We put so much pressure on ourselves to say the right things and do the right things that oftentimes, we inadvertently end up making the situation worse.  The sad reality of the situation is that there really are no words that we can say that will make things better.  We can’t do anything of our own power to take pain away.  But, I have been reminded of the fact that Jesus words can bring peace and comfort simply because of the fact that He won the victory over death.  In Mark 5:35-43, Jesus shares three statements with Jairus, a synagogue ruler whose twelve year old daughter had just died.  And those three statements made a dramatic difference in Jairus’ life.

 

The first words that Jesus gives Jairus are words of faith.  Jairus’ friends had just reported the news to him that his daughter had died.  As a result, there was no longer any reason to bother Jesus.  After all, now that she was dead, what could Jesus do?  But in verse 36, Jesus says to Jairus, “don’t be afraid; just believe”.  In the literal Greek, this phrase is translated as “go on believing”.  In other words, Jesus is telling Jairus, “You believed before when you first came to me to heal your daughter.  Don’t stop believing in me now that she has died.”  That is the same thing that Jesus says to us as well.  It is a lot easier to believe in the promises of Christ in life than it is in the midst of death.  But we have called to be people of faith, even as we walk through the valley of death. 

 

The second statement that Jesus tells Jairus is a statement of hope.  As they return to Jairus’ home, they see the mourners wailing loudly.  In verse 39, Jesus looks at them and says, “Why all this commotion and wailing?  The child is not dead but asleep.”  As you can imagine, everyone else in the room laughed at him.  What an absurd statement!  Of course the girl was dead.  But the reality of the situation is this.  For all that hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, death is just sleep for the body until the physical resurrection, and the spirit experiences instant unification with Christ.  Luke is rejoicing and worshipping at the feet of Christ today.  What a comforting thought!

 

The final words Christ said in this story are words of love and power and are recorded in verse 41.  “Talitha koum!”  That is Aramaic for “little girl, I say to you, get up!”  Of course, the little girl physically rose.  We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus says to all believers that have died, “get up!”  I think this is also a good reminder for us who are left behind to grieve.  Yes, we should grieve, but at some point we need to get up and continue to do what the Lord is calling us to do. 

 

May we remember Christ’s words of faith.  May we remember Christ’s words of hope.  May we remember Christ’s words of love and power.  Christ will provide everything we need to get through this hour of grief.  Let us also remember to remember and celebrate, even through our grief, a life well lived.  Luke lived well.  He loved and served Jesus, and through that love, he was able to love and serve others.  We are all better for having had Luke in our lives, even if it was all too brief. 

 

I remember Luke’s last words to me.  He was teaching me, and neither one of us even knew it.  I was lamenting to him how difficult it was to talk to someone, and he looked at me and simply said, “Have you actually tried talking to them?”  I said to him, “Luke, I know how to talk to people.  I’m a pastor”, to which he responded, “Well then, just talk.”  What a lesson for me.  What a lesson for all of us.  Just talk.  Talk to people.  Talk to them about Jesus.  Be good to each other.  I think that’s Luke’s legacy.  He was good to us because he loved Jesus.  I think that is a legacy worth emulating.  Please keep Luke’s family in your prayers.

 

I love you,

 

JP
 
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