Jason angrily told his friend, “I’m done with God! Please don’t mention faith and trust in God to me anymore.” And then he hung up the phone. What just happened here? Jason, a guy in his early 40’s, had his life torn apart the day before this phone conversation. His wife of just ten years, the mother of his two young children, was tragically killed in a car accident the day before. She had been out on normal, everyday errands when someone, going way beyond the speed limit, ran a red light and slammed into her car. By the time they’d gotten Anne to the hospital, it was too late.
It seems an understandable reaction to say, “I’m done with God” considering the tragic situation that I just described for you. And perhaps there are those of you in this church who have experienced terrible difficulties like Jason’s.
But let’s take a step back from this extreme circumstance for a moment to look at the story of the Rich Young Man. Mark says that Jesus loved him—which really means he saw into his soul—and he understood what he was about, so he was able to get to the very heart of what the Rich Man’s problem really was.
So, in answer to the Rich Man’s question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus says something that this man didn’t want to hear: “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.” Here’s how I interpret this. What Christ is actually saying to this young man is this: You’re lacking in one thing—you really don’t trust me, do you?
We see what happens next, the man’s face falls and he walks away sad. Why? Because there were too many things that he was clinging to—that he was afraid to let go of. This story is not about wealth, necessarily. What it is about is how much we are willing to trust in God. It is also about how we respond to loss when it occurs in our life.
I’m not making any judgment about Jason in the story I told you. I’m not saying that he should just be willing to trusting in God even though he faced such a tragedy. But would there ever come a time in Jason’s life where he could come back to Christ—where he would return to his faith—that this faith actually could become a source of strength to him as he navigates the loss, and as he tries to figure out what’s being asked of him, not just for self, but for his family, too.
A spiritual writer offers this thought: “It can happen that the opportunity for a great offering to our Lord coincides with a time of great personal pain.” Maybe the question is this, if I take something away from you will you still trust me? Could we ever respond with something like this: Yes, Lord, this, too, indeed everything you have asked?
I’m not so sure how I’d feel if I were in Jason’s shoes. I know how I felt when my Mom died. That was pretty hard for me—let alone something like that is really a tragedy.
Please understand, I’m not trying to get everyone sad this morning (today). I’m just posing something for us all to think about. In the face of loss, whatever kind of loss it might be—something extreme, or perhaps more in the course of life’s expectations, but nonetheless painful. Will we be willing to still believe in God and even someday enter into (or enter back into) the heart of God? Are we willing to trust in the Lord’s promises to us when we face matters of loss.
God sometimes asks a great deal of us—more than we think we are capable of handling. But a promise made in God’s eyes is a promise that can never be broken. And God’s promises to each of us will stand firm for all eternity!