By Dr. Don Bierle, FaithSearch President
I was returning to the Seattle airport from a weekend of ministry when the pastor of the church I had just left called and said my wife was desperately trying to get in touch with me. I called and heard her sobbing. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “Steve’s dead!” was her heartbreaking response.
It was a message no parent ever wants to hear. I was speechless in disbelief. Steve is the younger of our two sons: he was forty-four years old, with a wife, Sandy, and three sons of his own. Longer story short, Steve drowned while successfully rescuing his middle son, Benjamin, from certain death in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of northern California.
I couldn’t stop the devastating thought that Vernee and I had just “lost” half of our family. Our grief temporarily blinded us to what we know in our hearts to be true: We still have two sons!
The resurrection of Christian believers to eternal life is assured by many N.T. passages, including the teaching of Jesus: “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son, and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). Jesus’ own bodily resurrection is testified by eyewitnesses and recorded in all four of the proven-to-be-historically-reliable Gospel records. To remove all doubt, Jesus provided the ultimate apologetic evidence:
See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have…And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it in their sight (Luke 24:39-43).
Steve first prayed to trust Jesus as his Savior on my lap at four years of age. He reaffirmed that commitment as a teen-ager. He lived out that testimony right up to his death. Our memories of those events and the testimony of his life gave Vernee and me comfort that He is now in the presence of the Lord.
It is interesting to observe that after Job’s horrific testing (compare Job 1:3 with 42:12) God “increased all that Job had twofold” (Job 42:10). Yet God only gave Job the same number of children he had before (cf 42:13 and 1:2). No need for God to double the children because the first ten children were still alive!
It will never be the same without Steve here. Yet, as the Holy Spirit revealed through the apostle Paul:
[W]e do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
We are looking forward to a glorious reunion! For others who have also experienced such a loss, may this fulfill in your heart what God intended: “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (v. 18).