Grace that Redeems Death
Only minutes after I posted the previous blog about Kate’s deteriorating situation, Kate died - New Year’s Eve, 31 December, 2016.
I spent that night with Kate, praying for her to be raised from the dead. Others joined for a time and over the days following, many continued to pray that Kate would be raised from the dead. It seemed so obvious: Kate’s faith deserved such an amazing testimony; it would be such a mighty way to share the gospel of her Saviour Jesus, to the glory of God; and it was inconceivable that Kate’s faithful husband Paul could be left on his own to raise 4 young children… Something great was about to happen.
But 6 days later, Kate had not risen from the dead and I had to conduct her funeral.
Although the funeral was a powerful testimony to Kate’s faith, life and ministry, we were left with some significant questions about why Kate wasn’t healed or raised from the dead. It’s been said that ‘trusting’ is the highest expression of faith. And this has been a situation that we must choose to trust God because there is no clear answer that gives us peace. We just know that God is good, He loves us and we can trust Him in the disappointment and loss – even when our questions aren’t answered.
Because my faith has been solely focussed on healing during Kate’s battle with cancer, I hadn’t stopped to consider how faith would look if Kate wasn’t healed. Now’s the right time to consider how faith works in the absence of expected results. And the Holy Spirit has been reminding me about some things:
1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Many people stumble in their faith when they don’t get the answers/results that the Bible clearly reveals are available in the Kingdom of God. It’s as if God must do things the way we think they should be done because our ways are perfect. The Bible says otherwise! God’s ways are perfect and higher than our ways. If God was to always answer our prayers according to our limited view, He would not be God: He would only be a magical ‘genie’ trapped in the limited confines of our knowledge, understanding and imagination.
1 Corinthians 13:12 reminds us that our vision and understanding is very limited. We don’t see clearly as God does. But when we are with God in heaven, we will ‘know everything completely’. That is, our knowledge will be complete instead of incomplete as we have now. When I accepted that Kate wasn’t returning from heaven, I thought about how her knowledge was complete. She wouldn’t have been worried about her husband Paul or her 4 children because her knowledge of God was complete. She knew without any doubt, that God was good and only good. He is loving and perfect and completely trust worthy. Kate knew that God would more-than-take care of Paul and the kids.
Whereas, on earth, we worry and fear and often doubt God’s ability or commitment to look after us. Our knowledge is incomplete here so we are vulnerable to the lies of spiritual forces of evil who whisper doubts and fears.
Although God doesn’t want Paul to be without his wife, and their 4 children to be without their mother, God sees the end from the beginning. He knew in creating Kate, that she would die of cancer at age 35. He also knew that He was going to look after Paul and their children in amazing ways. And God knew that He would ‘work all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.’ (Rom’ 8:28). Whether in sickness, or in death, or in life, God can redeem every situation we trust Him with. And in Kate and Paul’s situation, God is going to redeem and do wonderful things for their family and for God’s glory.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
During Kate’s cancer battle over the last 7 months, I was not expecting to use this scripture. But it is now needed. Just as many other Christian families have experienced over the last 2000 years, there are times God allows a wonderful, faithful and fruitful Christian to return home early. It causes us pain, but for them, it’s only joy upon joy; glory upon glory. I firmly believe that if we trust God with Kate’s family and her life message, we will see Kate’s story, faith and message multiply in ways we could never imagine.
A number of us were able to share Kate’s faith and message at her funeral where over 600 people attended and it was broadcast on the internet. Her life, her love for Jesus and her message of God’s reality, love and grace wasn’t lost at death – it was amplified! We often think that miracles have the greatest impact upon unbelieving people. But in some situations - particularly with Kate – something extraordinary can happen. Kate’s faith and revelation of God’s goodness, all the way up to her death never diluted or wavered; it only grew. And when she died, some people were more impacted by her faith in the face of death than they would’ve been if she had been healed.
Not that God arranged her death for this affect! But God’s grace and redemptive ability is greater than any situation – even death! No matter how bad the situation, God can redeem it, revealing His glory and grace, if we entrust it to Him.
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55