I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25
I have been working on this post since January 12, 2018, the day my dear Aunt Theresa passed away. As I contemplated her life–the kindness she extended to me and my family, the immense love she had for her own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren evidenced by the fervent way I heard her pray for them, and the compassion she expressed to those less fortunate, I have been tremendously inspired.
Over the years she blessed us and gave so lavishly all the way from the East Coast. The countless blankets, mittens and socks she lovingly crocheted with her arthritic fingers for our family are now treasured mementos. The annual homemade cookies and candies that we joyfully received from the mail carrier before each Christmas will be remembered fondly. This past Christmas, she called to say she wasn’t feeling well but that as soon as she felt better she would bake and mail out the package of goodies. We received it a few days before she passed away. The prayers for our family that she faithfully sent up heavenward were greatly appreciated. But of her many gifts of thoughtfulness, what touched me the most was the love that she showered on my daughter, Chloe. Even before my own mother passed away, she made Chloe feel so special, but after, Aunt Theresa went into high gear and never missed a birthday or holiday to bless her.
I wasn’t surprised when at her memorial service, her Pastor mentioned that this almost-eighty-eight-year-old woman was working in her Church’s food bank just a few days before she passed away. Many times, she told me she was going to do all that she could while God gave her the health to do it and that, she did.
What is most telling about the life my aunt lived, is that everything I have mentioned (which only scratches the surface of her generosity) was all set against the backdrop of adversity. To name just a few, multiple heart surgeries, her husband’s failing health–Uncle Roland passed away a month after she did, and the most tragic was the loss of her adult son and daughter.
Just two days after my aunt passed away, I received the news that my friend, Shawna’s son, Micah passed away at 23 years of age. We have been privileged to call the Dron/Gentert Family our friends for many years. We first met when my husband and Micah’s dad, Paul were on the Pastoral staff together at a church in the early ’90’s. Over the years, we watched this family live out their faith through a most difficult journey of adversity. Paul had a hereditary disease which at the time was thought to be Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) and Bronchiectasis. He passed away at the age of 37, leaving Shawna with their four young children. God graciously sent another godly man to become her husband and a father to her children.
The family moved from Oregon to North Carolina early last year to be close to a specialist at Duke University. Their expectation was that in doing so, they would be able to give him the best possibly medical outcome. Although they received a new possible diagnosis, Mounier-Kuhn Syndrome, Micah’s health declined and he passed away on the 16th anniversary of his father’s passing. But what an amazing life he lived in his short time on this earth. Even after being in and out of hospitals much of his life, he completed his GED and walked with his class for graduation, a remarkable accomplishment in and of itself. But there were other accomplishments that demonstrated the character, faith and perseverance of this young man.
He loved God and had an unwavering faith until the very end. He was a self-taught musician who was very active in his local church youth group and played on the worship team. He was a member of the band, 18:20 and even recorded some of the songs he wrote. He was invited to sing a song on stage with the band, Switchfoot and also made it to the second level of the Los Angeles auditions for America’s Got Talent. Below is a recording of a song he wrote, ‘Don’t Go’ which was recorded in the personal studio of Chris Funk of the Decemberist. When you think about the breathing challenges he had to overcome to sing, it is quite miraculous. He not only could sing but he did it well. His voice had a Phil Keaggy-esque sound to it. To me, however, Micah’s greatest accomplishment was his faithfulness to trust God to the end of his very arduous journey.
Recently, my own personal journey has been difficult as our youngest daughter, Chloe, who has Cerebral Palsy has undergone some very concerning cognitive/mental changes. At times, my husband and I have been at a loss to know how to help her feel safe when she has hallucinations that make her anxious and afraid. Aunt Theresa, Shawna, Micah and so many other friends and family have impacted me more than words can say as I have observed their perseverance, faith and endurance through every adversity. I aspire to walk in faith as they have.
For the past two months, I have been praying about what God has been calling me to share in this post and the featured scripture has captured my heart and the words have “coincidently” come together just before Easter.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25
These words were not uttered by Jesus’ disciples after His resurrection. They were spoken by Job hundreds of years before. In those times no man could speak so clearly concerning the general resurrection and the redemption by Jesus Christ. Here this prophetic word was inspired by the Holy Spirit in the depths of Job’s despair. God spoke to him in the heat of his adversity–there is a Redeemer! And not only did He redeem us by His blood to free us from our sin and give us eternal life (Hebrews 9:12; Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 1:7 ESV) but he is able to redeem every despairing circumstance we encounter as we put our hope in Him. (Psalm 130:7 NIV)
I am reminded of the Guardian (Kinsman) Redeemer in the Book of Ruth which is a foreshadow of Christ. The kinsman-redeemer was a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–25, 25:47–55). The enemy may try to convince us that God doesn’t care about us when we travel through the valleys of life but Scripture says otherwise.
Elimelek, Naomi and their two sons left Bethlehem and went to Moab to escape a famine. In the span of ten years, Naomi’s husband dies, her sons marry, and then they both die also. As the book opens, Naomi is trying to dissuade her daughters-in-law from going back with her to Bethlehem. In her despair, she utters these unforgettable words, “It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord ’s hand has turned against me!” (Ruth 1:13 NIV)
One of the daughters-in law, Ruth insists on going with her. As they arrive in Bethlehem, the whole town is stirred and they ask, “Can this be Naomi?” To which Naomi replies, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:19- 21 NIV) (If we are being honest, which of us can deny we have ever felt like this.)
Naomi didn’t understand that God was meticulously coordinating one of the biggest blessings of her life! Through God’s providence, her daughter-in-law, Ruth marries Boaz, the Kinsman Redeemer and every painful experience is redeemed. I love how this story ends–or begins 🙂 with Baby Obed!
The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.
The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:14-17)
Naomi had to suffer through famine, a move to a foreign land and the death of loved ones to bring her to this place of blessing–raising a grandson who would go on to be a forefather of the Messiah! God was not against her. He had not forgotten her. He was planning something great!
The Bible is full of examples of men and women who experienced great suffering. God was not against them nor had he forgotten them either! He was strategically planning blessings for them! Job, Abraham, Joseph, Hannah, David, Daniel, Esther, Zachariah and Elizabeth. God gave us these examples in His Word to get us through our difficult situations. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 NIV)
I know this post is different from what I usually write. It has been helpful to process my grief by eulogizing some pretty amazing people, who like Job, knew that their Redeemer lives and lived like it. But it is more. It is also a challenge. May “Per Adversitatem Redemptio” be the motto of every reader going through difficult times. Through Adversity, Redemption. Kind of like Semper Fi or E Pluribus Unum. Something about the terseness of Latin to help us focus and remember! 🙂
Dear Lord, Remind us of your Word, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial” (James 1:12). Thank you for dying on the cross and redeeming us from our sins and their consequences. But thank you also that by your death and resurrection you can also redeem every trial and hardship no matter what it is and make it something beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11). LH
(The Featured Photo was taken on the way to Micah’s Memorial service in Oregon. If You have a few moments, why not take them to be blessed by Nicole Mullen.)