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When God Asks the Ultimate

A few years back I met a fellow chaplain at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. It was one of those times where you just “click” with someone. We were instantly brothers in the Lord and had so much in common. We’ve kept in contact from time to time over the years.

It was with great sadness that I heard a few weeks back that his 26-year-old son died in an accident. He suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome his whole life, became disoriented in a parking garage in San Diego, and fell to his death. His name? Isaac.  

We've seen in our Overview of Genesis that Abraham was asked to sacrifice his Isaac, his only son, whom he loved, whose name meant laughter. Nothing funny about this. God asks everything of us. Though in principle we must settle this, in practice He rarely takes everything away like He did with Job, for instance. Job and Abraham are examples to us of faith that stands the test of ultimate trial, because sometimes God does ask from us the things we hold dearest. As with Job and Abraham, it often involves death.

The death of a loved one

The death of a loved one can be the most difficult trial of all. In time, we all lose a parent, a brother or sister, a child, a spouse, a good friend. Death is the ultimate enemy, but the resurrection gives hope. It did for Abraham:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received    

the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said,

‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’ He considered that God is able to raise

people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type”

(Hebrews 11:17–19). 

The death of a dream

Death does not always mean that we lose a loved one. We all have hopes and dreams for our life. But sometimes those dreams die - something you always wanted to do, something you always wanted to be, something you always wanted to have. Perhaps you dreamed of playing an instrument or having a successful business. You may have dreamed of being a firefighter or artist. Or, maybe you dreamed of having a son or a spouse. But over the years, none have come to pass and your dream has died. What then?

On the day of his son’s funeral (at which my friend preached) he shared the devotion he and his wife had had that morning in Psalm 73. He stated that though their grief was too much to bear they relied on the truths of Psalm 73:25-26 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

At the moment his grief was most raw and most intense, he and his wife found ultimate hope in the face of their ultimate sacrifice. We must learn to trust as they did.

We Trust His Sovereignty.

In His goodness God sometimes in this life requires of us our most precious treasures. He has the right to do so and offers the rock-solid truth that all things do work together for good (Romans 8:28). We want to know right now what that good thing is, but we are to “walk by faith and not by sight” and trust in His sovereignty when it doesn't make sense - especially when it doesn't make sense!

We Trust His Sufficiency.

There is no thing, no person, no circumstance that can satisfy as He can. The psalmist said there was no one and no thing in heaven or on earth that he could possess or desire above God. This is advanced Christianity, and we all have the same curriculum.

We Trust His Solace.

God is the strength of our heart and our portion forever, said the psalmist. God brings a comfort that cannot be found in any person, any thing, any circumstance. In this hope God meets our ultimate fear in the time of ultimate trial. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:2).

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