On 15th August 2002, just five days after my birthday, my dad was violently snatched away from us in a tragic motor accident. The story was that a runaway tipper truck driver (escaping a police check-point) rammed into the vehicle he was traveling in with another Reverend minister, on their way back from a meeting in Koforidua in the Eastern Region of Ghana. We had just returned from a Church planting exercise in neighbouring Afram Plains area the previous week. Dad actually left a few days short of the end of the outreach because he needed to come back to officiate a wedding and a funeral on the Saturday prior to his passing. On the Wednesday following, we get the news that the cold hands of death have embraced them both. He was fifty-eight years old.
The death of loved ones is always heart-wrenching. The pain can be inconsolable. But it gets worse when people who are family outside of family—fellow Christians who are brothers beyond blood—suggest in their statements that you need to look inward; that God cannot be behind such a tragedy. Like Job’s friends (Job 4:7-8; Job 11:14-15,17; Job 8:20), some insinuate that perhaps they (the dead) were not in God’s will, or that this was the work of an evil force or forces out to take revenge on you or yours. So, in the midst of dealing with it all, you get thrown into disarray, questioning and wondering what could be the missing link. One of our friends remarked when I recounted the incidence, that things like these are not Biblical. God doesn’t allow His children to die in accidents like this, and the Bible can prove it. We should not use our experiences to write Bible, I was told. On my own part, a part of me felt that the town in which we lived at the time was to be blamed for my dad’s death. It was there he died after all, so I felt they were somehow responsible. For a long time, I couldn’t go back to visit the place because I felt it would remind me of my “matters” as one would put it in Ghanaian local parlance.
It’s been 15 years now, and I’m not writing this to solicit your sympathy—I’m not mourning him now. I write to share what the Lord has taught me through the past years about tragedy and pain and misfortune in the lives of His children. Today, when I look back at the event, I don’t feel the pain. When I remember my dad, I only look forward to meeting him! I don’t blame the devil for snatching him away, neither do I even stop to think that he might have done something wrong for which he “fell” outside of God’s will. Nor do I fear anymore to go back to the beloved town where he died—I have so many more great memories of that place! Indeed I am convinced my dad himself was not angry with God nor sad to be taken away suddenly–I saw his body in the morgue and he had a smile on his face, yes! It’s totally absurd to suggest my dad was not in God’s will or that he was not anointed enough or that he falls outside those whom the Bible calls God’s children–I never knew a more God-fearing man! Neither do I think the devil or an evil force for that matter is powerful enough to snatch a servant of God away in death, without God being aware. He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps, says the Holy writ (Psalm 121:4)! There is no enchantment against Jacob (Num. 23:23), for that matter, nothing takes God by surprise, and it is unthinkable, to speak with reverence, that God will fall asleep for Satan to capture one of His own—a child is a child, whether clean or dirty, and the great shepherd of the sheep loses none of those whom the Father gives Him, neither will any man snatch them out of His hand—for the Father who gave them to Him is greater than all (1Peter 2:25; John 10:28-29)! Even if one of God’s children errs, Scripture tells us, no man judges another man’s servant, it is before his own master he stands or falls (Rom. 14:4)–so if needed, God is the one who disciplines His own, not Satan. Satan hasn’t got any power over God’s children unless God lets him. God’s stern rebuke to Job’s three friends for misrepresenting Him goes to all those who cast blame on believers when they go through diverse sufferings: they don’t speak the truth about God! (Job 42:7).
Today, God has shown me that He is Sovereign over it all. He has reformed my theology—thank God! He has shown me that all things, good, bad (in our perception) or whatever we might describe it, work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28-39). He has shown me in His word that at times He allows disaster to happen to his children, not that He is asleep or can’t stop it, but because He has a greater purpose for it, which I may not understand this side of eternity. He has shown me that this world is not my home and that I am just passing through (1Pet. 2:11). He has made me understand that He is Sovereign over all His children. He allowed many saints before us to be martyred, not because He couldn’t do anything about it, but because death to the believer is a benefit—a passage from a fallen world into untold bliss in our celestial home! Jesus died a tragic death, prematurely we might have said if were present then, but He allowed it—indeed He planned it (Acts 2:23)! Timothy was clubbed to death in the streets of Ephesus (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, chapter II) not because he was a sinner, but the exact opposite, because He was a saint, who spoke out against the idolatrous procession of idol worshippers!
I don’t understand it, and it is difficult each time to go through suffering, but if you are, child of God, maybe it will help to know that God is Sovereign over it, and He’s with you in it. Scripture is replete with examples of God allowing misfortune to come the way of His children—not because He’s weak, but because He’s Sovereign, and He allowed it. Maybe in glory, we’ll understand why, but I doubt in glory we’ll even bother to ask Him why because we’ll be so overwhelmed with the unsurpassable bliss and glory we’ll be enveloped with perpetually, all our sufferings of the present time will be nothing in the face of the weight of glory that we will enjoy in His presence (Rom. 8:18; Psalm 16:11)!
I am looking forward to the time when my own earthly tabernacle will give way, and be clothed with an imperishable, eternal and immortal one (2Cor.5:1-4) (some people do not like me to say this, but it is true). As a believer in the Lord Jesus, this is an anchor for my soul–the blessed assurance of an eternity spent with God, free from sin and sickness and pain (2Pet. 3:13; Heb. 6:19). Don’t believe any preacher who tells you that time is now. No, that time is not yet, but soon!