Oct 26th 2009
The Lims, have experienced deep pain and sorrow the last few years. We have had three funerals in less than two years with the last two merely six months apart. My beloved brother, mentor, and friend, Nian, passed away on April 10th and his beloved wife followed barely six months later.
Lay See fought bravely, valiantly, courageously to live for the sake of her daughters whom she literally loved more than life itself. She underwent chemotherapy, willingly gone through painful procedures so that she may be around to love, guide, protect her precious daughters now that Nian is no longer around.
Ultimately she could not sustain the fight. Her spirit was willing but her body was too battered, bruised and weary. She went home to glory, to be with the Lord with the blessings of her beloved daughters.
As uncles and aunties our hearts are broken for our beloved nieces. Debbie, Rachel, Eunice. We do not know what to say that can be of comfort to you, but we do know what we want to do. We want to love you and we want to assure you that you will always be special to us. You will always be welcome in our homes and we will want always to look out for you. We will follow your careers, your lives, your ups and downs with great interest. We will log in to your face books on a regular basis (that is if you first approve us as friends!)
The Seremban Gospel Chapel has also gone through what the church fathers called the ‘dark night of the soul’. Two distinguished, godly and caring elders have gone home to be with the Lord within six months. And this after much fervent, believing, persevering prayers have been made for them.
It does seem that the heavens are silent and God has chosen to be absent and that we mere mortals are left to fend for ourselves the best way we can.
Many over the years can identify with these feelings of abandonment. I suppose one of the most documented painful periods of recent history must be that of the Jewish holocaust where six million men, women and children were put to death by the Nazis in WW II, simply because they were members of the wrong race.
One of the most articulate spokesman of this dark era, has been Ellie Wiesel author of the book, aptly named Night. His whole family was captured by the Nazis and sent to their death camps. He and his father were eventually separated from his mother and sisters in the death camps. This is his horrifying account.
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
“ I glanced at my father. How he had changed! ... The night was gone. So much had happened within such a few hours that I had lost all sense of time. When had we left our houses? And the ghetto? And the train? Was it only a week? One night—one single night?
God is not lost to Wiesel entirely. During the hanging of a child, which the camp is forced to watch, he hears someone ask: Where is God? Where is he? Not heavy enough for the weight of his body to break his neck, the boy dies slowly and in agony. Wiesel files past him, sees his tongue still pink and his eyes clear, and weeps.
“Behind me, I heard the same man asking: Where is God now?
And I heard a voice within me answer him: ... Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.
„Shortly after the hanging, the other inmates celebrate Rosh Hashanah, by blessing the Lord. the Jewish New year, but Weisel cannot take part.
“ Blessed be God's name? Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His mass graves? Because He kept six crematoria working day and night, including Sabbath and the Holy Days? Because in His great might, He had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many other factories of death? How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in the furnaces? ... But now, I no longer pleaded for anything. I was no longer able to lament. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes had opened and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man.
Did Jesus create the death camps and rejoice in the deaths of his people?
John 11.11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."
12His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."
16Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
Jesus Comforts the Sisters
17On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles[a] from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ,[b] the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked.
"Come and see, Lord," they replied.
36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
The NIV translation, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled (v. 33), is common among English translations, but it does not do justice to the language. The word for deeply moved (embrimaomai) can be used of snorting in animals (for example, Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes 461) and in humans refers to anger (Beasley-Murray 1987:192-93). The second word, troubled (tarasso), is literally "troubled himself" (etaraxen heauton). So a better translation would be, "became angry in spirit and very agitated" (Beasley-Murray 1987:192-93).
Jesus is angry at death itself and the pain and sadness it causes evident in the wailing (Westcott 1908:2:96; Brown 1966:435; Michaels 1989:203). Thus, his anger at death itself and the reign of terror it exercises. Anger at death that takes the best and godliest from us. Angry that death takes from us that which is most vulnerable and helpless. Angry that death should find it necessary so often to inflict so much pain, suffering and indignity on those we love before finally silencing them forever.
Jesus knew what it was like to be abandoned, forsaken, forgotten and stripped of all dignity :
Mt 27.45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi,[c] lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"[d]
Jn19 28 (Later), knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
“It is finished” refers not, it is the end, I can no longer fight death. No, “It is finished” refers to the fact that death is vanquished, that with the death of Christ, death died.
My dear friends there are many questions we cannot answer this evening. There are many things we do not understand and may never understand. But if we are to be angry, this evening, let us be angry with death, with sin and corruption and evil that leads to death but not at Jesus. For he too hated death. And for that reason he died, friendless, rejected, alone, abandoned in extreme physical, mental and emotional pain.
He died, that death may not reign and have the final say. Instead, death may be slain and we can triumphantly say:
54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
55"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
56The sting of death is sin, and the power
of sin is the law.
Nian, the husband died on a good Friday- when Jesus died, death died (– John Owen – The death of death in the death of Christ)
Lay See died on Sunday – a special day for Christians. Before that the Jews worship on the Sabbath, which is Saturday. But we Christians changed it to Sunday – because Christ was resurrected on the Sunday.
Good Friday – death died. Sunday - new resurrection life so that death, sorrow, suffering, pain will never have the last and final say.
THERE IS A HOPE
by Stuart Townend and Mark Edwards
Copyright (c) 2007 Thankyou Music.
There is a hope that burns within my heart,
That gives me strength for ev'ry passing day;
a glimpse of glory now revealed in meager part,
Yet drives all doubt away:
I stand in Christ, with sins forgiv'n;
and Christ in me, the hope of heav'n!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
to make His will my home.
There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future's fear,
He whispers, "Courage!" in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.
There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
and every longing satisfied,
then joy unspeakable
will flood my soul,
For I am truly home.
May my life be always defined by a hope that is rooted firmly in the truth of Your glorious resurrection. May my current sufferings remind me that though I am in this world, I am called by You to embody a vision of life as You would have it. May I always look ahead, knowing that by Your grace alone, You will indeed lead me safely home.