This week many in our church body suddenly lost a dear friend and sister in the Lord who had moved away years ago. Her death was the result of a crime. She leaves behind a husband and grown children. I did not know her, but the loss is grievous to those who did.
I would not offer a trite slogan or cliche at a time like this. But God’s Word does speak directly to his sovereignty over all death. Indeed, in Psalm 116:15 the Lord reminds us,
“The death of his faithful ones is valuable in the LORD’s sight.”
This reminds me of Charles Spurgeon’s famous sermon on God’s providence, given in April of 1858. The text of the sermon was Matthew 10:30, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Towards the end he applies the truth of God’s providence in all things, including small things, and his intricate care for us. Spurgeon quotes another preacher’s memorable parable, which perfectly fits the situation. I offer it here as well as Spurgeon’s comments as a help to those hurting:
Suppose you are a gardener employed by another. It is not your garden, but you are called upon to tend it, and you have your wages paid you. You have taken great care with a certain number of roses; you have trained them up, and there they are, blooming in their beauty. You pride yourself upon them.
You come one morning into the garden, and you find that the best rose has been taken away. You are angry: you go to your fellow servants and charge them with having taken the rose. They declare that they had nothing to do with it, and one says, “I saw the master walking here this morning; I think he took it.” Is the gardener angry then? No, at once he says, “I am happy that my rose should have been so fair as to attract the attention of the master. It is his own. He has taken it, let him do what seems good.”
It is even so with your friends. They wither not by chance. The grave is not filled by accident. Men die according to God’s will. Your child is gone, but the Master took it. Your husband is gone, your wife is buried—the Master took them. Thank him that he let you have the pleasure of caring for them and tending them while they were here. And thank him that as he gave, he himself has taken away.*
May those mourning find comfort in the care of the Master.