Love at the End

Yesterday I was sad.

Yesterday I was confused.

Yesterday I was angry.

Chad Carr was the five year old grandson of former Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr. I am a huge fan of the wolverines. I have loved them my entire life. When I was growing up, Lloyd Carr was our coach, and I admired the heck outta that guy. Last year when the news of his grandson being diagnosed with brain cancer broke I became invested in praying for Chad.

Yesterday Chad Carr passed away.

This is the type of news that we hear all too often. Cancer claims loved ones every day. Terrible things happen all the time. A lot of times we don’t even register just how bad something may be. I think of the tragedy in Paris. Many people’s lives were forever changed that day as they suddenly, and horribly lost a loved one. This world can be a painful place.

Yesterday I felt that pain.

I never had the privilege of meeting Chad. I wasn’t hurt because his death would change my life. I was hurt because I cared about the people who would be devastated by his passing.

This hurt causes us to ask questions.

These questions aren’t bad, they must be answered.

Finding real answers to these questions is one of the most important things we can do.

Why would a loving God allow a five year old boy to die of brain cancer?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

In order to accept that a loving God, would allow terrible things to happen to us on this earth, we have to examine the way we view God, and the way we view our expectations of God.

Often I hear people say that believing in God, will make your life better. Even more often I hear it said that God has “good” planned for his followers.

Any of us who have been around the church culture have heard that passage from Jeremiah thrown about,

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. “ Jeremiah 29:11

This is a beautiful passage of scripture, don’t get me wrong. I 100% percent believe these words. However, I don’t think we take the time to really understand the actual meaning.

“Plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope and a future”

How can these words be said about the death of Chad? Or said to the persecuted Christians in the Middle East?

If we want to believe that God has good planned for those who put their trust in Him, then we have to redefine good.

I think of good as a nice house, a stable career, and a happy family. That’s what I would say “good” is. I certainly wouldn’t call losing a 5 year old child to cancer good, or being put to death by Muslim extremists good.

I’m not trying to be a pessimist, I’m trying to answer a real question with a real answer.

If we want to be able to tell people that Jesus will be “good” for them, then we better know what we are saying. We better have a real answer.

So what is good?

“Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.  These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:36-40

Hebrews 11 is my favorite passage in the bible. This passage encapsulates the reason I am a believer, this passage provides me with a desire to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

This passage defines the concept of good.

In this life we will face all types of struggles. In this life we will watch children die of cancer, we will see pain and suffering, we will see things that we could never call good.

Hebrews 11 tells us that God knows that.

Hebrews 11 tells us that God has a place for us that is good.

There will be plenty of good times on this earth. As I think of Chad Carr tonight, I am sad, but there is also a peace in my heart.

Chad displayed a strength and courage that is an amazing encouragement. The fight in that little boy is something that I desire to have myself.

Chad’s battle with cancer also brought about good in other ways. This past Saturday when Michigan’s two biggest rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State were playing each other in Columbus, both teams wore helmet decals in a stance of support for Chad. This little boy’s courage brought out love from a couple of rivalries were no love can typically be found.

This world is not devoid of goodness, but a far greater goodness waits on the other shore.

Hebrews 11 tells us that God is aware of the suffering and pain that happens to His followers on this earth, and it tells us that He cares, that He honors those who suffer in His name. Often times we talk about this life having such little meaning compared to eternity. We take comfort in knowing what is on the other side of this life. We know that there is so much more to our existence than this flesh and blood. So why then, do we define good by what happens to this flesh and blood?

Good is not what happens to us here, good is where we are headed.

When you read Jeremiah 29:11 and other passages like it, then be encouraged for the good that awaits us.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17

The reason following Jesus is good, the ultimate good, is being reunited with our savior in heaven.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

This world is not our home, this world is not where we will find true goodness. This world is where we shine the light of God’s goodness to the lost and broken. The only good we will find here is when we pursue the good that God has prepared for us.

God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:40

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