"ENCOURAGEMENT TO GO ON"
"And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth….And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth…..And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan"-Genesis 23:3,7,19
I know Abraham was loath to leave the cave at Machpelah where his precious Sarah was buried. Many were the years of their pilgrimage together as husband and wife. Sarah was the mother of his beloved son, Isaac, and had been his faithful companion in days of prosperity and great adversities. It was here that their earthly pilgrimage had ended, and for now, Abraham must say goodbye to his faithful helpmeet. Yet, in the midst of Abraham's great loss, the Holy Ghost has been faithful to record solemn words of encouragement for others who would walk this way, leaving the precious remains of their loved one in caves, cemeteries and sepulchers. By divine inspiration it is twice recorded that Abraham "stood up".
To stand in the day of adversity and loss is a great advantage. Sometimes it is all that one can do and all that God expects. Even here, just to stand, we must "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." His threats of loneliness, depression, guilt and fear are great during our time of loss. We must look to the Rock of Ages to find our comforts and remember that our God is the God of the living and all of His children live with Him whether in life or in death.
What a testimony Abraham displayed before the sons of Heth. Descendants of the Hittite nation, their god was not Jehovah. Their god was fashioned and made with hands and must be carried about from place to place. He could do nothing for them unless he was seen with the natural eye and placed in the proper position. Where did their loved one go when the spirit departed from the body? Surely, they did not know as they cut their bodies and let out their own blood to reveal the pain they held for the loss of their loved ones. As Abraham "stood up" he declared his faith in the living God and his hope that his beloved Sarah was with the Lord and at peace. I love the story a preacher told of one of the sisters in his congregation when she lost her beloved husband. The caretakers came in to offer their condolences and medications to alleviate her grief. To their surprise she seemed to be at peace and remarkably calm. They asked her how this could be and she explained her great faith in a living God who watches over His own and how she knew that her husband was with Him now and that she would one day be with him in glory. As the pastor summed it up, "There is nothing wrong with acting like a Christian at the time of death".
As Abraham stood up from before his dead, he witnessed his faith before the sons of Heth his faith in our God who has conquered death. His posture is recorded for God's people today as an encouragement that we, too, must go on when we lose our loved ones. To other husbands that have lost their Sarahs I hear him say, "Stand up, show your faith, she would want you to go on. You have been given precious days of life. Use them to God's glory and be an encouragement to others. See to our family. I am just around the corner. I will see you soon." To the faithful wife who has lost her husband, his words are much the same, "You, too, must go on. There are grandchildren to care for. Though you do not now it, your strength will be seen by many. It is God's testimony of faith. I will hold a special place in your heart, yet, I would not have you waste your days in grief. You must go on." To children who have lost their parents I hear him say, "You have a life before you. There are challenges you must meet, worlds you must conquer and a family you must care for. Stand up, go on with your life." So faithful Abraham says to all who have lost love ones. Children, grandchildren, husbands, wives, friends and family. Stand up and make the most out of the days you have been given. We are just around the corner.
Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00.
By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.