Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Charles Frank Hess Jr.

Charles Frank Hess Jr.
March 26, 1931-April 05, 2008

My grandfather died this past saturday. I had the honor to officiate the funeral for my family today, it was my first funeral. My manuscript that I prepared beforehand is not what I said word-for-word, but rather it encapsules the same scripture and train of thought I followed in my outline. Your prayers for my family are coveted.

Committal Service Manuscript
Some people may try to comfort me from the loss of my Grandfather by saying that God did not want this to happen; the awful cancer that took his life was merely a result of the sin in this world. My reply would be simply, I appreciate your concern for my family and I, but I find no comfort in thinking that my God does not have control over the evil in this world and I find no comfort in thinking that God has no rule over cancer. My God has control over monstrous car wrecks and sinking ships and catastrophic tornadoes and hurricanes, and crashing planes and falling buildings and asthma attacks, and heart attacks and most especially my God has control over rogue cells that grow insanely and kill. God is sovereign over death; God is sovereign over calamity. The Bible makes this unquestionably clear to us. Job said, after all of his children had been killed in a horrific accident, "The good Lord giveth, and the good Lord taketh away." God himself says through the prophet Isaiah:
9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
This biblical reality poises a dilemma: How can God allow evil to happen as part of His Plan and still be considered righteous?
This is most easily answered by thinking about our view of reality being like a camera with a large lens who is in close focus, which only can see the details of one object, one circumstance, but God's view of reality is like taking the lens of the camera and making the view wide and therefore, seeing the beginning from the end, seeing all the details most clearly. We see something horrible and cannot understand why it could happen. God allows something to happen because it is part of his plans and it is part of his plan because he sees the wide-angle picture and understands the good that will flow from the bad circumstances.
So what good can come from the death of Charles Frank Hess, what is worth the taking of the life of my Grandfather? Although, I can meditate on these things and propose some satisfactory answers, this caution from St. Paul is most appropriate:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34"Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" 35"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
His paths, his judgments are beyond tracing out unless God tells us some of his paths and judgments and ways. And this is what I believe we can establish from God's revelation of his ways: we can identify at least two reasons and therefore two aspects of good that will flow out of the death of Charles Frank Hess Jr.:
Firstly, the death of my Grandfather has revealed the power of God in two different ways, the first we have already talked about--the fact that he is a Sovereign God and has the power to give and the power to take away. However, a second way is that we can see the power of God to comfort the afflicted. We all know my Mommom Hess, God has created her to be quite jumpy and she does not take stress very easily and the death of her husband should by her very nature send her to Ankora--we could have proved this very easily by setting my two little rascals out to play in her flowers--just the thought of one smashed flower would send her to Ankora. But we look at her and notice that she reads this large book often and goes to this strange building weekly and we see that something beyond her has strengthened her and comforted her in such a way that she is not acting in the way of her nature. But rather, she is acting like she has a peace that surpasses our understanding. This is the very power of God that sustains her and it is made manifest for all of us to see and wonder at the marvelous work of God.
Secondly, God is using the death of my Grandfather to reveal who He is. No one here knows the destination of my soul and no one here knows the destination of my Grandfather's soul. This fact causes each and every one of us to search who the God in heaven is, therefore in that quest there are especially two comforting revelations that we can decipher about who He has revealed himself to be. First, God is just and righteous. Psalm 33:5 says, "The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love." The fact that God loves righteousness and justice is a wonderful thing and a horrible thing. It is wonderful because we know that our soul is in the hand of an infinitely perfect judge, one who is fair and upright in all of his ways, however it is a terrible and horrible thing because the Bible teaches that we are born guilty. Romans 3:23 says that all have fallen short of the glory of God and Isaiah 48 says that we were rebels against God from the womb. So how shall we stand before that infinite glorious judge, but to be rejected before him, a terrible thought. But God has made it clear that he does not desire our condemnation and this truth reveals to us the second thing about who God is. God is merciful and gracious. God tells us through Isaiah to "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted." The death of Charles Frank Hess makes us tremble at the fact that God is righteous and just and it makes us rejoice at the fact that God is merciful and gracious.
But to you who are careful listeners, you have already noticed dilemma number two. How could an infinitely perfect judge allow mercy on infinitely guilty sinners? It would be like a judge pardoning a clearly guilty murderer; each and every one of us would conclude injustice and unrighteousness on the judge. The answer to this dilemma is Jesus Christ. God does not pardon sinners, but rather he concludes all guilty and sentences the payment of sin upon them--death-- this confirms his righteousness and justness. However, he loved all sinners so much that he sent His Son Jesus into the world to bear the punishment of sin upon His Only Son in our place. This is how God is merciful and gracious and yet still retains his infinite righteousness and justness.
We have concluded today that God is Sovereign and Just and Gracious. The death of our beloved Charles Frank Hess Jr. is a message from God showing us his power, and who he is as righteous judge and gracious Savior. Be comforted: God reigns, he is in control, this is his plan, do you see his purposes, and have you made him your treasure?
Jesus said in Matthew 13:44: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found it, He hides it, and for the joy thereof he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field."
Are you filled with a joy that never snuffs out? Do you stand on a foundation that is unmovable and unbreakable? Do you live a life that shows that God reigns? If not, then find the treasure, start by listening to what God is saying to you right now through the death of Charles Frank Hess Jr. Amen.


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