Pastoral Perspectives

Thine Is the Glory

Around this time 3 years ago, I lost a good friend. After battling cancer for some years, she went home to be with the Lord. The moment she found out that she had cancer, her first question to the doctor was “How much time do I have?” She was given 6 months to live but by God’s grace, she went on to live for another 3 years and even saw her grandson being born.

During the last few months, we spent a lot of time talking about many things in life and what struck me about her was that she never once questioned God. In her words, “If God wills it for me, there is no point asking why but I want to know how much time I have so that I can spend time meaningfully and return to Him.” She was a simple woman but contended in life. She assured her family that she was ready to meet her maker and ensured that she spent time with them as much as possible.

As I reflected on her last few months, what surprised me the most was that she never once prayed that God would heal her. It might seem strange but she accepted it from the day the doctors broke the news to her. She said God was kind to her and had very few worries and cares of this world. She was neither holding a very high paying job nor living in luxury. She only prayed that she would live the rest of her life doing what God wants her to do. She reminded of David in Psalm 63.

David was in the desert and running away from his own son Absalom who was after his life. One would imagine that David’s immediate prayer would be for water and a restored relationship with his son. What is surprising is that David prayed for neither of these. Instead, he prays

“O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
My soul thirst for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
And behold your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
My lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
And in your name I will lift up my hands.”

Despite going through physical thirst and the hurt of strained relationship from his own son, David reminds us that our deepest longings are actually for God. Our deepest longings can only be met by God’s presence and experiencing His love which is actually better than good circumstances or even life itself!

As human beings, our immediate instinct would be to pray that God would change our circumstances- to take us out of the desert and restore our strained relationship with our loved ones. If we look at our prayers, most of our prayers are actually for such circumstances. I admit that my prayers are like that too. Although it is not wrong to bring such prayers and petitions to the Lord, the Bible teaches us there are higher things to pray for. God’s thoughts are definitely not our thoughts! There may be times when God may not change the circumstances for us so that we may be drawn to Him, the one who will satisfy all our longings!

It is no wonder then that a believer’s prayer and response ought to be different from those who do not believe in God. We will go through many circumstances in life until we reach the heavenly shore. Meanwhile, God’s presence and His love would be enough to help us go through the desert and the painful circumstances of broken relationships in life. As a believer, my friend responded to her sickness differently and taught me much.

As she neared her death, she prepared all of us and yet when the time came, it was truly hard. I had to lead worship at her wake services and it was one of the hardest things to do. Throughout the wake services, I was holding up and making sure that her wishes were carried out as we sang the songs she chose for all the services. When everything was over and we returned from Mandai, the reality of her passing on hit me very hard. I was overwhelmed and broke down. It was at this juncture that my son came to my side and asked if I remembered the song that says “Dead are raised to life; Finished the victory cry.” I realized that if God were to heal her, she would still die one day. Without God, there would be no end to all our longings because our deepest longings and affection can only be satisfied in Christ alone. As believers, we have hope in Christ. He has conquered death and is able to help us in our doubts, trials and afflictions. One day, all our deepest longings and affections will find its ultimate fulfillment when our Risen Conquering Saviour returns! As we await His return, may the church sing triumphantly Thine is the Glory!

Thine is the Glory
Written by: Edmund Budry    Translated by: R. Birch Hoyle

Thine is the glory,
Risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory
Thou o’er death hast won.
Angels in bright raiment
Rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave clothes
Where Thy body lay.

Thine is the glory,
Risen, conquering Son;
Endless is the victory
Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us,
Risen, from the tomb;
Lovingly He greets us,
Scatters fear and gloom;
Let His church with gladness
Hymns of triumph sing,
For her Lord now liveth;
Death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt Thee,
Glorious Prince of Life!
Life is naught without Thee;
Aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conqu’rors,
Through Thy deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan
With Thy power and love.

Pr Loliro Sani

October 6, 2019