Sowing God’s Word

Sowing God’s Word
in a Busy Schedule

By
Sean Wegener
Pastor Summerville First Baptist

 

The Busy Schedule

In 2005 I was ready to open a new chapter in my life. Having graduated from McKinney High School, I was bound for Oklahoma State University (OSU) for the fall. I had signed up for 12 credit hours, auditioned and won a scholarship for acting, and was reading my Bible daily. The first semester at OSU was quite easy. I found myself a bit bored with the class load. I was able to do my class work, attend church, work, and have plenty of free time. My solution was to increase my class load from 12 hours to 18 hours. By my second year, I was taking 22 hours of credit and on track to graduate in two-and-half years.

While my work load increased, a correlation appeared between a busy schedule and the decline of spiritual disciplines. Particularly, I had a hard time finding joy in reading God’s Word. This is not to say that I stopped enjoying the worship of God, going to church -I attended First Baptist Perkins under Pastor Albert May –, or reading God’s Word, but when I made time for the Bible, I was exhausted. The same passages, which once illuminated my soul and renewed my mind, appeared as stale to me. The Bible became just another book that required my studies and time. Reading the Bible was rote and pure drudgery.

Sadly, it took me till the end of my college experience to figure out why my Bible readings were down-right-dull. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (ESV). When I was willing to sow Bible reading as the last-ditch efforts of my day, I chose to reap meager rewards. I was giving the first-fruits (biblical term for my first and best) to studying and working hard. Therefore, while I had a great harvest in my own degree plan, I had little to show spiritually.

Busy or Sinful?

Our Good Earth, John Steurt Curry.

A busy schedule doesn’t necessarily mean a sinful one. However, when a
busy schedule shows itself to be robbing us of love for God and his
Word, it is no longer a busy schedule – it’s a sinful one.

How do we tell the difference between a healthy yet busy schedule
and a hectic crushing one? Ask yourself one question: do I have time to
enjoy the Bible as a first-fruits activity? Don’t just ask if you have time to
read the Bible. Do you have time to enjoy it? Am I giving my best
energy and best work (whenever that may be) to my relationship
with God? If you are not (especially because of your schedule),
change immediately! Don’t wait for a meager harvest. Don’t
wait till you’re robbed of joy. Don’t wait till your marriage is suffering.

By the time I entered into Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2008), I had learned my lesson. I slowed down and took school at a much slower pace. However, the consequences of my life at OSU continues into the present. Sowing sparingly for a season of your life can reap lasting sparse spiritual harvests. Thankfully God is a God of grace. Start sowing generously (put your best effort into your relationship with God) and you will reap the benefits.

 

A Smoldering Wick

A Smoldering Wick
A Prayer for the Southern Baptist Convention

Blessed Spirit of God,

When the sun sets, long shadows are cast upon the earth. As darkness settles, Discord plays a tempting tune. He beckons us to revel in gossip, dance in slander, and merrily laugh as our brothers topple and fall. In such a time as this, the SBC now waits.

 For months leading up to our convention, you have seen fit to reveal truth after truth of latent sins which cast long shadows over our denomination. Should we attempt to hide our racist past? Should we not discuss the abuses heaped upon your daughters? Would we not recognize that all our faculties have been a weapon of revolt against you? Without you man’s heart sits in darkness and claims his own darkness is lighter than his brother’s.

Oh Lord, how can we rejoice in idle talk? How could we waltz with slanderers? How could we rejoice in our fallen brethren? For these ways are not your way. You are gentle, even with us sinners. Your kindness leads us to repentance. A smoldering wick you would not put out.

Do not put us out, Father. A smoldering wick is what we are before you. Once Southern Baptists may have claimed to be a blazing fire – an evangelistic zeal which burned bright with love for you – but now we rejoice in embers. We comfort ourselves in the past. We remind ourselves that baptismal pools, now stagnant, were once rippling with waves of life. My God and my Lord, forgive me and my people. Infirmities and weakness are ours for want of spiritual life. We’ve erected idols of our own victories in the temple of your gospel mission. Souls have not been helped as we bathe in the glories of our past obedience. Lord, forgive us.

Do not put us out, Begotten Son. A smoldering wick you would not put out. We have not moved from calling you Lord exclusively (may we never move from your solid foundation). Yet, those who love you obey your commandments! Help us in our unbelief. In flesh you were tempted by every temptation. In flesh you were abused by the leaders of religion and government. You were wrongfully accused by your own people. Hear then the cries of our sisters who, having been wrongfully abused by their own brothers, have cried out for justice. Can we not be humble enough to ask their forgiveness? Only if we are first humble enough to first ask for yours. By your grace forgive us. Help us to rejoice more in what we receive from you ,than in what we do for you.

Do not put us out, Holy Spirit. A smoldering wick can be brought to life by a gentle breath. Our embers could glow again if you blew upon us the breath of life! Oh, what revival we could have, if in mercy you reignited our flame. Hear the groaning of our leaders as they call us to pray. Help us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray. Intercede for us with groans that words cannot express. Hear our broken hearts as we beg for your presence. In this hour of humiliation, show us again the reviving power of the Holy Spirit. Over the waters you hovered waiting for the impregnating words of the Father. Over Mary you shadowed bringing life to the virgin womb. Over us fan a new fire for Jesus our Lord and savior. We desire to see salvation. But would you use a dirty brush to paint a perfect picture? Cleanse us that we may be ready for revival.

Do not put us out, Most Holy Trinity. A smoldering wick needs the kindling light of your love.  May your cause -not our own- engage our hearts. It is the cause of your kingdom for which we long. Sin accomplishes much in our hearts by way of silencing the gospel. Do not let us be silent concerning sin. Do bring in great numbers to Jesus! Let our convention see that glorious day.

Amen, Come Lord Jesus.

             

Can Evil and Normal Coexist?

               Children movies are intentionally easy to understand; the forces of good, often represented by softer and brighter colored figures, take on the forces of evil, those mean harsh people dressed in blacks and reds. What happens when we step out of the realm of childhood and into the world of people? Most people are a mixed bag between sinful actions and normal-every-day-life. A person can criticize and tear you down with the harshest words, while serving you a fresh baked apple pie. Why does it seem like evil and the mundane coexist?

               Notice that the question above doesn’t ask how evil and good coexist. The Bible is clear that the light and darkness have nothing to do with each other. God created a good world. We know why evil exists (Adam’s sin in the garden). We recognize that evil and good do not mix. The problem lies with mankind. How can an average Joe also be a sinner?

               Consider Genesis 4:17-25. In this passage we have the Line of Cain, called the children of the devil in 1 John 3:11-15, on display. Cain’s family line did some amazing things. One son, Jabal, invented animal husbandry. Another son, Jubal, is said to have invented the first musical instruments. The next time you want to ‘rock-out’ with the lute and lyre, thank this guy. And Tubal-Cain, yet another son, invented the first bronze/iron tools. Impressive feats.

               Adah and Zillah, had the privilege of having very successful sons. But for every song Jubal wrote for his mother, she had to endure the nightmare of her husband’s physical and verbal abuse. Lamech, the father, composed a song for Adah and Zillah. It isn’t a love song. It’s a song glorifying abusing women. “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words,” Lamech sings, “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” Abuse (both physical and verbal) is always a characteristic of children of the devil. The Bible offers a clear diagnosis of humanity: the best we can put forward is a facade, and we hide things far worse than even the humblest of us admit.

               What is the solution? How do we overcome the multiplication of evil? How do we address the fact that we tend to share much in common with Lamech? Despite Cain being in the line of evil, there is another line of man which comes from Adam.

               “How many times shall I forgive my brother?” Peter asks (Matt. 18:22). Jesus takes up Lamech’s song, but he wrote some new lyrics. “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” If Lamech will sing about multiplying sin, Jesus sings about multiplying grace. We don’t look past people’s sin. We don’t neglect to treat the wounds of abuse. We do apply the healing balm of grace. The parable of the Unmerciful Servant is a hard story to read. It means the guy who is a good business man, who slandered my name, needs forgiveness. It means the errant husband, who is loving to his kids but neglectful to his wife, needs forgiveness. It means the adulterous wife, whose loneliness overcame her better judgment, needs forgiveness. It means we forgive because God first forgave us.

               It doesn’t take a psychopath to commit evil, just the normal human heart. Evil and normal coexist within us. But grace and forgiven people, saved people, coexist as well. Is there anyone you fear, disown, criticize, or hold a resentment towards? What are you doing about it?* “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We must do the same.

 

 

*this question is one of John Wesley’s Holy Club questions.

Reflections on Pastoring for Three Months

I love the Easter season. After Easter season is complete, I like to take a time to reflect on how I grew as a Christian over the previous year. The passage below is a reflection on growth, including a reflection on pastoring for three months.

Need to Work On

  1. Scripture Memory

I’ve spent a lot of time this year working on Latin (memorizing, studying, reading, reflecting, etc.). But because I’ve been assigned nearly six chapters of Latin a week, I’ve spent most of my time memorizing vocabulary for Latin and very little precious time on memorizing Scripture. While the first habit (working hard at my task) is good, the second habit (neglecting memorizing the Word of God) is not good.

While one does not need to memorize the Word of God in order to have a relationship with Jesus, and certainly neglecting memorization won’t keep me from all Christian growth, I must pause and wonder if such a habit is unhealthy. If neglecting the memorization of Scripture is a sign that I’m not studying, reflecting, and allowing God’s Word to work in me, then it is most certainly unhealthy. Thankfully the solution to this issue is quite easy.

Verses to consider: Psalm 1:2, Psalm 119:9, James 1:25

  1. Making Time to Properly Care for my Wife

With a new pastoral position, PhD work, two children, and a new baby on the way, I’ve found it’s easy to be busy about God’s work, work-in-general, and children, and yet neglect to spend quality time (not behind a screen) with my wife. I’ve tried to become more conscientious of being helpful around the house and yard. However, I also have to ask if just being helpful is the most helpful to my wife. In other words, perhaps what I think is the most helpful may not be the thing she finds most helpful. I need to be able to listen to, enjoy, and be with my wife.

Marriages are not work projects. Work projects seem easy for me to handle. There is a task – get it done. But my wife, like all human beings, is not a project which I can work on and solve. What is better than just being helpful-husband? Being a kind and patient listener. Add to the previous mixture: a husband who is gentle when wronged, silent when needed, and patient in all situations. I am, after all, quite forgiving of my own wrongs, listen to my own counsel, and patient with myself in all situations; therefore, if I am to obey Scripture (let each one of you love his wife as himself – Eph. 5:33), I must extend a greater curtsey to my wife than I do to myself. I must cherish her.

Verses I meditate on: Eph. 5: 28-33, 1 John 4:7-12

  1. Allowing God to Grow His Church

I have just begun to feel the burden of pastoring a flock of people. While I started thinking pastoral care involved mostly hospital and home visits, I’ve come to realize the greatest pastoral care is care for the soul. I long deeply that my people would grow in the Lord. Yet, in my inadequacies, I know I am not the best teacher they could have. I do things that are upsetting to others. I do not teach as clearly as I would like. And I find a great temptation to blame myself for any lack of spiritual growth in another person. If someone does not delight in our services and wishes to go elsewhere, I find myself taking that personally. Could I have done a better job?

The short answer is yes. I do certainly need to learn from mistakes and I’ve made some already as a pastor. However, I also must allow Christ to be sufficient for me and for my congregation. Not a single one of us can make everyone happy or make everyone like us. After all, I have close friends who find a way to get on my nerves. And heaven forbid that anyone would ever dislike me (how could that ever be the case)! So, our unity, growth, and kindness between each other at SFBC isn’t all on me – rather, we all rely on Christ together. A pastoral friend truly helped me with this issue. He said, I have to uphold 2 Timothy 2:15 (do your best to present yourself to God as one approved), Romans 12:18 (so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all), and 2 Corinthians 12:9 (my grace is sufficient for you) at the same time. So while I work hard, I must allow God’s grace to be sufficient for me, and allow my own weaknesses to show the power of Christ’s work in me. Tough stuff.

Verses to consider: 2 Tim 2:15, 2 Cor. 12:9-10, Romans 12:18.

Going Well

  1. Enjoying Summerville

I truly enjoy this community and the people in it. I am truly content to be a part of this town. While the pressing darkness of those who are lost weighs on my heart, and I find myself quite discontent with the present spiritual state of many here, I do love them and want to get to know them. I look forward to no longer being the alien in a foreign land. I look forward to being a naturalized Summervillian.*

The pastors in the SBC association are great and godly men. They have vision and want to work together to redeem the lost. What could be more energizing? I look forward to going to association meetings (crazy, right?), not because they are somehow the most fun I’ve had all week, but because I get a chance to meet with these men and learn from them.

I deeply enjoy the woods of Georgia. I’ve only had a few locations in my life that just felt like home: walking in the woods of Michigan, enjoying the culture and language of Germany, and standing in awe of the splendor of the Georgian hills. I am still in awe of the vast beauty God has given to North Georgia. I look forward to seeing Georgia in every season. If extreme humidity is my summers destiny, then at least I’ll get some ice-tea to sip on the porch.

*The problem with Summervillian is it looks like Summer-villain. Which makes me wonder what occupation villains hold in Chattooga county during autumn months.

Verses I enjoy while hiking: Psalm 19:1-6, Psalm 139:1-18

  1. Enjoying the Members of SFBC

While my relationship with most of my members is still a tiny seedling, I can already see a great harvest in the future. I truly enjoy getting to know them and having them at our house. Since the sands of time are quickly cascading away from our third pregnancy, and since we’ve had quite a few visits from family members recently, we haven’t had as many people over to our house for dinner and coffee as we would like.

Yet, given the outpouring of love SFBC has shown my family and the constant support and care for our two sons, I am truly looking forward to sharing our third son with them. Our members have expressed such desire to help us with the new baby and I cannot wait to dedicate him along with our church. New cries, new giggles, new life in our church nursery! I am truly blessed to be at this church.

Verses: Philippians 1:3-6, 2 Corinthians 13:11

Preparation for Easter: A Second Prayer.

O’ Faithful Father,

The world is artful to ensnare, approaches in fascinating guise, extends gilded bait, flashes a charming visage. Let the faith of Summerville First see every painted bauble, escape every trap in the victory of your Son’s death and resurrection. Let our faith stride forth in giant power, and respond in love to every sinful act.

Jesus, Holy Son of God, you said it would be better for us if you left. I believe you spoke truth, but often I mourn your absence, whose smile makes creating a paradise, whose words a healing balm, whose presence gives all sufficient grace. Yet, since I cannot see you, my unbelief often keeps you, My Lord Jesus, outside the doors of my heart. But, faith is in those things unseen. You are unseen. Therefore, let the faith of Summerville First Baptist give entrance that you may abide in us forever.

Holy Spirit keep us from sinning or sinking in the evil day; help us to carry into ordinary life portions of divine truth and use them on suitable occasions, so that its doctrines may inform, warning caution, its rules guide, its promises confront us. Holy One, let not those of my flock who are in Christ’s name fall short of heavens list, participate in acts of the flesh, or imbibe spiritual apathy. Grant them the fruit of the Spirit, a tender conscience, a soft heart, delights of your Word, and victory in love.

You who are one, who are united in yourself, unite us in the Son. May we be of one mindset, which is to your glory. May we worship you fully, praise you sweetly, and pray earnestly as we remember the Son’s resurrection.*

 

*for more of this prayer, and prayers like it, see The Valley of Vision. This prayer is built off of Faith and the World.

The Suffiency of Scripture in Art


Icon with Crucifixion (ca. 950)
Byzantine Period
Notice the use of Scripture in the picture.


Icon of St. George (ca. 1400-1450)
The British Museum
Example of Christian art not depicting God or scripture.

 


The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saints and Angels(1502-1503)
Raphael
The National Gallery
Notice the use of liturgical elements in the painting.
Depicting not Scriptural accuracy, but traditional interpretation.


Christ After the Flagellation
Contemplated by the Christian Soul (1628)
Diago Velazquez
National Gallery
Notice the guardian angel pointing us to Christ
instead of a symbol of the Holy Spirit.


The Crowning with Thorns (1602-04)
Caravaggio
Kunsthistorisches Museum


The Preaching of Martin LutherLuther (1547)
Lucas Cranach
Notice the Word of God is open and being read to
the congregation.


Golgotha (1900)
Edvard Munch
Notice how people become more defined by walking
away from the cross. Experience driving understanding
of the cross does not hold a high view of Scripture.


Christ and the Word
Notice Jesus is surrounded by the four symbols
of the gospel, he holds open the Word of God,
and both Peter and Mary are pointing to Christ and
the Word of God.

Our First Prayer Preparing for Easter

Gracious Father,

                 Enlarge our hearts, stir our affections, and open our lips to proclaim the mighty work of your outstretched arm at Cavalry. The hands which fashioned time out of nothing now bear the weight of the thy son upon the cross, a son freely given. Your grace removes our burdens, heaps them upon the brow of your Son and atones your wrath against us.

                Who could be silent, O’ Christ, whose lips could withhold praise for such a gift as freedom from sin. There at your cross, Jesus, there we find God’s justice and mercy mingled in the precious flow from your side. You were all anguish, that we may be all joy; you were downtrodden, that we may be called friends; you were given to hell’s worst, that we may rejoice in heaven’s best.

                Savior stretch out your wings and cover us in your mercy. We are not able to comprehend the depths of your love. But give to us a heart prepared to celebrate your resurrection. We desire to rejoice at your table in heaven, but we will take comfort in the hope of Easter Sunday.

                Holy Spirit, lead us to sing of Jesus’s cross. May those who come to hear your song fling down all their burdens and see them vanish; where they have mountains of guilt, level them to a plain; where they have chasm of despair, fill them with joy; where they bathe in the mire of sin, wash them with the crystal streams of heaven’s grace; where they tarnish under apathy, polish them with ample worship.

                May our church know a clean heart full of goodness more beautiful than the lily, a clean heart singing by night and day, a heart abiding by your precious side.

                O blessed resurrection, you are our hope. May we be prepared to receive you.

Amen

Prayer for Study and Daily Life

Below is one of the prayers from Karl and Hugo Rahner. I have enjoyed this prayer and find that often it helps revive my efforts to live and love the Lord more than knowledge and wisdom. I hope it will encourage you as well.

Study and Daily Life

Lord Jesus Christ, you are present in the Sacrament of Bread
and also in the mystery of that daily bread, for which we ask in the Our Father and which is at the same time the supernatural Bread. you are indeed the bread of our daily life. Without this bread all our busy, wearying and disappointing thought and work would be meaningless and burdensome.

It is this bread alone which sustains my life. It does not always appeal to the palate of my spiritual curiosity and carelessness. But it always imparts strength and stills my hunger. It seems to be shut away in the tabernacle of your seclusion. Nevertheless it is here. It is always here. You yourself are here, you, our beloved simple bread. In the midst of our ordinary daily routine you are here. You are here in the market-place of everyday life, amid the wretched and labored course of our earthly hours and in the busy flight of the weeks and years.

Be then the bread of my daily life. Be the deepest meaning of my study and my work, of my efforts towards the knowledge which will one day procure for me the daily bread of my earthly existence.

The tables of knowledge are richly spread for me. But they still leave me hungry. My understanding must busy itself with the thousand things that are to be learned. But often my heart remains cold and empty throughout. Then, like the prodigal son, I face the temptation of filling this emptiness with the scanty unwholesome fare of this world’s pleasures, which only bring on spiritual atrophy, or even with the husks the swine eat. Without you, O Christ, my heart will die of hunger.

Therefore, I implore you, grant that in this daily bread I may taste also the supernatural bread of your Father’s house. Let me find you in my daily life. Fashion my studies into the search for your truth which lies mysteriously hidden in all human knowledge. Let me find you in all the substances of your creation, you, who are both natural and supernatural. You, the eternal Word of the Father, ever at work in all the stars and atoms, in all human truth, in all human words, in human justice and in human sorrow, you, the heart of the whole universe.

On the walls of this university stand the words: The truth shall make you free. Let us never overlook in our daily life that it was you who said this, you, the hidden Lord of all truth, the hidden king of all learning, the heart in which all treasures of knowledge are hidden. Only when I find you in all my quests for truth, will I be free. Free from the narrowness of any one field of Study, free form the desire for success, free from the greed of my heart. Only your kingly Heart can teach me to love my study and knowledge, to put my best into it for your sake, to consecrate my heart in the service which I render to you alone in the depths of my love: the service of truth, of justice, of healing, of the enriching of mankind, to whom you have sent me.

It is my daily life that will be the measure of my knowledge. My heart must first act the truth before my spirit can apprehend it. Only great love can bring forth great knowledge. For I know that you said long ago in Palestine, what you repeat now to our hearts and what one day you will say once again, when, at the end of the daily round of this world’s history,  there shines for the beginning of your eternity: “If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth; and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Amen.

A Minister’s Preaching

I particularly enjoy reading various prayers. On my desk three different prayer books usually stand. I like to read The  Book of Common Prayer (1559), The Prayers of Peter Marshall by Peter Marshall, and Prayers for Meditation by Karl Rahner. However, The Valley of Vision is one of my favorite prayer books. From The Valley of Vision, I recite  one particular prayer prior to preaching every Sunday. Portions or the entirety of this prayer loom around my thoughts all week long. This copy I have changed from the original in certain places. The changes reflect only my personal touches and are not largely theological in nature. You may view the original prayer here.

 

A Minister’s Preaching

Most high and heavenly Father, I am desired to preach today, 
        but go weak and needy to my task; 
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth, 
        that an honest testimony might be borne for you; 

Give me assistance in preaching and prayer, 

        with heart uplifted for grace and unction. 
Present to my view things pertinent to my subject, 
        with fullness of matter and clarity of thought, 
        proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
        a feeling sense of the things I preach, 
        and grace to apply them to men’s consciences. 

My Lord Jesus the Christ,
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,

        and let me not gloat in pride over my performance. 
Help me to offer a testimony for you,
        and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting your mercy. 
Give me freedom to open the sorrow of your people
        and to set before them comforting considerations. 

Holy Spirit, attend with power the truth preached,

        and awaken the attention of my slothful audience. 
May your people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
        and help me to use the strongest arguments
        drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
        that men might be made holy. 

I myself need Thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,

        that I might be a pure channel of your grace,
        and be able to do something for you; 
Give me then refreshment among your people,
        and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
        or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a Redeemer,
        or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,
        from lack of warmth and fervency. 
And keep me in tune with your Spirit as I do this work.

Is Death Merciful?

In 1939 Karl Brandt popularized a word among the German people; this word, having trickled down the steps of time, landed into the hands of modern American culture. Brandt’s word was gnandentod. You may have never heard the German word gnandentod; likely you have heard the Greek equivalent, euthanasia. Both gnandentod and euthanasia mean merciful death. German culture in 1939 discussed when a merciful death, a euthanasia, was appropriate. When a life was unworthy of living (lebensunwertes leben), they concluded, a merciful death wasn’t something to be feared but it was a welcome friend. Brandt offered five reasons for a life unworthy of living: a sterile or hereditarily undesirable person, a mentally impaired child, a mentally impaired adult, jailed in-mates of particularly heinous crimes, and being Jewish. While we may not (indeed should not) agree with any of Brandt’s reasons for euthanasia, Americans largely accept the concept of a merciful death, when the issue of pain prevails.

Biblically speaking, death is never considered a blessing. Death is a curse, (Genesis 3:17, 19) a curse inflicted on mankind by disobedience towards God (Genesis 2:17-17). Even when pain intensifies and the leisure of life wains, the Bible does not view death as merciful. Pain is not the king of the universe; he does not wield the scepter of life and death; upon his brow does not rest the crown of life. Therefore, pain cannot and will not define who is worthy of life. Since pain is not king, then death is not his principality of blessing, nor is death his steward of peace. Death was not elected by God to bring peace to his children. Pain and death are curses which do not rightfully belong to God or his image.

When we discuss the problem of pain and the idea of a merciful death, we must recall the tears of our savior. When Lazarus became painfully ill and was going to die, Jesus stated, “this illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Jesus here creates an interesting dichotomy between God’s blessing and death. Notice as you read further into John 11, Jesus fully intends to raise Lazarus from the dead. Despite having the power and knowing he is going to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus’s reaction to the death of Lazarus is tears. Jesus wept (11:25). The crowd reacts, “see how much he loved him!” Jesus did not view Lazarus’s pain, his death, or the lamenting of those who lost Lazarus as merciful.

While euthanasia may be inspired by motives of compassion, death is not a compassionate friend. Death is not a blessing. Death is not good. Death does not properly belong to the image of God. The resurrection of Jesus, and our eventual resurrection in Jesus, is the blessing. Jesus alone overcame death. By his resurrection, Jesus usurped the tyrants of death and pain from their hold over mankind. Even in our deepest pains, trials, and moments of despondency, the name of the Lord must be on our lips. By living every painfilled moment of our lives under the light yoke of Jesus, we can faithfully sing with Paul, “death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).