Time of Loss


(Spectrumbot) #1

This week’s lesson reminds us of another rhythm of life—time of loss. Solomon said, “A time to be born, and a time to die” (Eccl. 3:2a). Family life is the closest relationship that God instituted; when loss strikes our families, it hits us hard. Family life is important; for that reason, Jimmy Carter, the President of the United States of America (1977–81), urged personnel at the White House in a handwritten memorandum to spend “an adequate amount of time” with family members. Such is done to assure a stable family life. Written on White House stationery and signed “J. Carter,” the memorandum says:

I am concerned about the family lives of all of you. I want you to spend an adequate amount of time with your husbands, wives, and children, and also to involve them as much as possible in our White House life. We are going to be here a long time, and all of you will be more valuable to me and the country with rest and a stable home life. In emergencies we’ll all work full time. Let me have your comments.”[1]

When Adam and Eve sinned and ate of the forbidden fruit; they experienced—for the first time—the loss of an intimate relationship between themselves and ultimately with God. Adam and Eve lost their health—from immortal beings they became mortal, from imperishable they became perishable. The fall brought with it chronic pain, disease, sickness, terminal illness, to mention but a few. In one way or another, suffering, sickness, depression, and death remain a mystery until Christ defeats all by His glorious appearing (Titus 2:13). The Bible says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:26).

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis penned the following words:

Pain is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads.[2]

Another loss the author talks about is the loss of trust. Because of the intrusion of sin, man lost confidence with his fellow man. To build trust with one another takes time and patience. Broken relationships can be repaired once trust is restored to its proper place. Loss of trust can even exist in the family circles between husband and wife, parent and child. The most attacked institution is the marriage institution; Satan knows that if he succeeds in destroying families, then he will own the world. Satan does his level best to destroy families—through sickness, divorce, and violence.

In his book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon lists the following reasons for that fall:

  1. The rapid increase of divorce; the undermining of dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
  2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
  3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.
  4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within: the decadence of the people.
  5. The decay of religion—faith fading into mere form—losing touch with life and becoming impotent to guide the people.[3]

Do these five reasons for the fall of Rome tell us anything about our present national situations? Sad to say, most of the above listed reasons—if not all—fit the societies in which we live.

Loss of health, loss of trust, and loss of freedom all are connected to one another. Most of us blame freedom for the existence of sin. Freedom does not account for sin, and sin is unrelated to freedom. In other terms, freedom does not explain the rise of sin. God in His infinite wisdom has authentic freedom; at the same time, He cannot sin. I like the words of Merrill C. Tenney, who said,

True freedom is constituted by ability to do the good, not by a morally unqualified faculty to do either the one or the other. Freedom belongs to the essence of human beings as created by God and as restored by Christ; in neither instance is it a morally neutral and unqualified aspect of humanity.[4]

The soul is fully responsible for the power of choice, while the flesh is responsible for freedom of action. The flesh can be subjected under the power of spirit. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6). In the words of Guido Stucco,

Freedom does not sin without the will, though the will can sin without freedom. . . if someone becomes blind, having been subjected to the lust of the eyes, the freedom of his eyes has been lost, but the will still remain in his power; it is through the choice of his mind that he is still troubled by lust. Thus, Christ calls a person adulterous even when he is not committing adultery, just for looking lustfully at a woman (Matt. 5:28); since that person has the will, it is not necessary for him to have freedom of action in order to sin. A person is guilty through his own will, even if he does not commit an evil deed.[5]

From the loss of freedom, we move to the loss of life—death. Regardless of what form it descends on humans, death is the enemy of man. However, death is not the end of those who believe in Christ. The psalmist calls death a sleep (Ps. 13:3; 90:5) for believers in Christ. Ellen G White concurs:

To the believer, death is but a small matter … To the Christian, death is but asleep, a moment of silence and darkness. The life is hid with Christ in God, and “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.[6]

During this phase of life, one may experience violence, sickness, disease, injustice, hatred, and different kinds of losses—including one’s spouse, children, family members and relatives. Contrary to that, the Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18). While most religions may have some forms of love, Christian theology stresses the significance of God’s love, because God has revealed that He is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Love is both what God is and what He has done; God always acts in love. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Rom. 8:35-36).

At the end, there is a victory to those who stand firm on the Word of God. John the apocalypse said, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4). That is, there will be no more tears, no more bruises, no more death, no more loneliness, no more violence, no more loss of heath, no more divorce, no more fear, no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more loss of life, no more lack of trust, and love shall reign forever and ever. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.

Youssry Guirguis currently serves as a full-time Lecturer at Asia-Pacific International University (AIU), Muak Lek, Thailand and also as an adjunct professor at the Adventist Institute for Islamic & Arabic Studies at Middle East University (MEU), Beirut, Lebanon.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

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[1] Norris Samuel Curry, The Methodist Preacher: Prophet, Priest and Pastor: An Experience, a Call, a Preparation, an Appointment, a Retirement (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan 2009), 78.

[2] C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2009), 86.

[3]Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2016)

[4] Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 2010), 5:75.

[5]Guido Stucco, God's Eternal Gift: A History of the Catholic Doctrine of Predestination from Augustine to the Renaissance (New York, NY: Xlibris, 2009), 672.

[6]Ellen G White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1940), 787.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9657

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

Given the human condition, death is a blessing. It is being left behind, there in lies the grief. Knowing the pain my parents suffered, The loss was sad but welcomed. They say I died for three minutes. if so it was painless and quiet like a deep sleep. Betty and I plan to celebrate 70 years of marriage within 32 Days the Lord willing. If not what a wonderful full 69 plus. What we know for sure is that our redeemer liveth.


#3

I am hearing “hope” sermons lately by those who don’t understand what generates or instills hope.

Any input from those who have thought it through after meditating on scripture?


(Elmer Cupino) #4

Very poignant article.

Except for the EGW note in which she “concurs.” Am I the only one who gets the idea that with EGW concurring that the psalmist gets more credibility? Isn’t it enough to just to end with the psalmist? Why do SDAs need EGW to give credibility to the Bible?

@vandieman


(David) #5

I have given some thought to the topic @gideonjrn. Here’s my two cents.

Hope is closely tied to belief (faith). It is impossible to hope for something one does not believe in. I think Paul gives the best essay on the mechanics of hope.

Rom. 8:24-25 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

It is neccessary to cultivate our belief (faith) in order to give us an increase in hope (I think depression is a symptom of a lack of hope). Hopefulness creates optimism and a positive outlook on life. We can do this by studying the scriptures and by a willingness to be led by God (if there first be a willing mind).

Rom. 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Paul refers to the “hope of salvation” as a helmet in 1 Thess. 5:8.

Paul addresses the “time of loss” topic of this thread with the concept of hope:

1 Thess. 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

In relation to this he also says 1 Cor. 15:19, If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Hebrews (George’s favorite book) is rich in hope.

Heb. 6:19:
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.

Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Doing a search on hope in biblegateway and meditating on all those verses, will be richly rewarded.


#6

Thanks for the input. Now pretend you are talking to an unchurched street person and wanted to share the significance of hope related to Christianity…
2 cents is not enough…make it at least a dime.

U need to include “How” & “Why” analysis to your post

Verses need to be explained…see Neh 8:8 not just cut & pasted.


(David) #7

You didn’t specify.

Excuse me while I go look for another rock :thinking:.


#8

Yep… Consider that longtime/veteran churchgoers need explaining of the verses as well.

Mark Finley recently presented a HOPE sermon at one of the churches I attend. After, I shared 2 hope verses with him in order to make it so his presentation was more relevant. The local senior pastor just presented a hope sermon .

Why do they present those sermons?
What actually generates hope for lukewarm Laodicean SDA church attenders?


#9

And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Rom 5:4

All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 JN 3:3

Use inductive method and analyze how this is integrated with your verses.


(David) #10

The enduring of the trials and tests of life create strength of character and it is this strength of character that gives us the ability to perceive the apparent random temptations that come up against us every day. It is the hope of salvation that gives us confidence to stand up against temptation, purifying ourselves in our warfare against temptation.


(George Tichy) #11

I don’t get it either.
The sermons in my Church have been very Biblical for a long time. Basically, Sola Scriptura. But the SS classes remain a challenge; it seems that the SDA people cannot live without EGW! Tiring.


(George Tichy) #12

YES! YES! 20 times YES!.. :+1:


(jeremy) #13

i don’t think it’s a question of egw giving credibility to the bible…rather, it’s a question of egw specifying which biblical interpretation is correct…recall that at the very beginning of her ministry, before adventism was organized, egw’s visions were all about specifying which of two or more conclusions “the brethren” had come to through bible study was correct…during this time, according to her bio, her mind was “locked”, and unable to participate in the vigorous debates that went on back and forth between believers who had sometimes spent the entire night studying the bible, and who had come to an impasse…

from the very beginning, then, one of egw’s most important and unique roles was specifying which of possibly several competing biblical interpretations was correct…egw endorsement is now taken to mean what the holy spirit intends a biblical passage to mean, whether the original writers, hearers and readers understood it that way or not…this is one of several reasons why i do believe that egw is the most important prophet who has ever lived…


(Elmer Cupino) #14

Love it!!!:+1::+1::innocent::innocent:

Freudian slip?


(jeremy) #15

no, it’s not a slip…i really do mean that part of egw’s role is to tell us what god means the bible to be saying…it’s an astounding claim, but that’s part and parcel of her authority mantle in our church,


(George Tichy) #16

I definitely see this happening regarding the (“I was shown”) Shut Door Doctrine… Very clarifying and insightful indeed… :roll_eyes:


(jeremy) #17

george, i see you referencing this shut door doctrine fairly frequently…what do you mean by it…i’m gathering you think it means that egw’s prophetic gift is false…


(George Tichy) #18

Elmer, I just can’t imagine those poor Christians that were left with no clue for ca 1800 years on what the Bible was about. No wonder there was so much confusion. But I am glad that after EGW everything was properly clarified, the confusion eliminated, and Christians no longer have problems and differences… Marvelous, ain’t? … :innocent:

Should time be measured now in terms of BW and AW???


(George Tichy) #19

Jeremy,
“I was shown” that the facts speak for themselves and that I don’t have to get into those issues again. The Shut Door, the blatant plagiarism, other myths, are more than enough for me to adhere to the “Sola Scriptura” principle with absolutely no remorse…


(David) #20

Just think of it as the 13th rule of White.

Rule 13 contains the famous hyperbole with which St. Ignatius stresses unconditional submission to the teaching of the Church. In case of conflict between the latter and one’s own intellect, the defined teaching of the Church must prevail: "What seems to me white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church so defines."

https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/thinking-church-rules

@GeorgeTichy, @elmer_cupino