Friday, February 17, 2017
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Listen while you read: "Love Divine All Loves Excelling"1 (Lyrics)

As a father of four, it warms my heart to see new life, especially newborn babies, because they tug at my own memories at the core of my being. But online photographs of twins born last December sent a pang of sorrow through my heart because of the poignancy of pictures. One of the twins was born with a heart defect that meant that he was destined to live but a short eleven days.

Death is a sensitive subject to touch on, which I do not do lightly, because it reaches to the centre of our being, and can easily cause offence to those grieving.

Naturally, we want to ask of a good, compassionate, and loving God, Why?

I have trained myself not to ask of God "Why?" in an accusatorial tone, because, in my experience, there is little or nothing to be gained.

Instead, I like to redirect my thoughts to what I believe are more constructive questions, such as Where are You in this? What can I do about it? What can I learn? How does this inform me about Your purposes?

Still in this case, my spirit cried out, Why, O Lord? before I could stop it.

Having asked of God, Why? I did not expect an answer, because making demands on God seldom works. Nevertheless, His answer came the next day. It was simple and to the point, found in the landowner's response to the workers' complaints about the unfairness of their wages.

Matthew 20:14-16 – "Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?" So the last will be first, and the first last. (ESV)

It is God Who imparts life, Who enables all to live. Our breaths are numbered and given, as are the hairs on our head. All that we have comes from God, so who are we to question the Giver of life about what is freely given? How can we demand more?

Those who are able can minister to those left behind in their circumstances and situations. It is a mystery that God goes with us in our sorrow.

Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (ESV)

We have no basis to make demands apart from God, to have our own way. Yes, we can always act and intercede, but there is only One Who lights the path by the Holy Spirit. That is why He came: to carry our burdens, to be with us when we have lost hope, and to lead us into His light and life, an eternity of His presence.

Prayer: Lord, we thank You that You first loved us. Grant us the skill and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to reach out to those who are hurting and fallen today, and to lift them up. Please forgive our presumption to make selfish demands, and grant that we may know Your presence with us through good and bad. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Rod Marshall <>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Great insights Rod.

    Amen Rod!

    Thank You!! You have developed and expressed this subject so well. Having lost an adult daughter, I know the pain.

    Yes Rod, death is always difficult for those left behind. Thanks for sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.

    Dear Rod – thank you for today’s devotional. I am still struggling to get past the being angry and asking God “why”. Your words and scripture passages are a help. May God bless you.

    Good message Rod. There’s so much we don’t understand but we can always gain strength and comfort from the Scriptures. I sometimes think of Isa. 57:1 to help make sense of a premature death.

    Dear Rod Marshall,
    Thank you for your insightful message.
    God bless you.

    Dear brother Rod,
    Thank you for sharing what God revealed to you, and your own thoughts, on this painful subject. May many be blessed in the reading and sharing of this devotional.

    We have several children and grandchildren. One of our children is a twin. He was five pounds when born. Our other baby boy was a healthy six pounds. It was a difficult delivery and he did not live.
    That was many years ago. And still, I found your words and the scripture you presented a comfort this morning. Thank you.

    Thank you Rod for the reminder “that who are we to question God”. Yes, I have been guilty of this many times, in circumstances about others, but in particular to my situation where I continue to be plagued by audible voices 24/7. I have shouted out “Why Lord Why?” in the midst of spiritual attacks. No answer, but I rest assured that one day there will be an answer. In the meantime I cling to my faith. Blessings.

    Dear Rod!
    Sad to hear of the great loss of your infant grandson.
    All that was permitted will in time bless and relax the sorrow!
    God carries you all through this difficult time!
    In the mirror of your eyes you see the little one has taken his place in heaven.
    With deep sympathy and Christian love!

    Thank you for this. Our natural reaction is always to ask why?. Thank you for sharing the text from Matthew, I had never thought about it like that, and you are so right. Another text for those who are able to minister to those left behind is James 1:2-3 as well as the rest of the chapter.
    (Nova Scotia)

    Hi Pastor Rod,
    I always benefit from the insights and encouragements in your daily’s.
    Thank you for all of them.
    Today’s, regarding the death of an infant, is very timely as my wife and I are planning to attend a memorial tomorrow. The baby’s grandparents are long-time friends of ours at church, and we can’t conceive of NOT standing with them at this tough time — but we also are unsure what is best to say to them. The opportunity for more caring is available in the days ahead, not just for them but also for their family that includes persons not resting on God’s words.
    As I consider your insights and tomorrow’s challenge/opportunity (today you suggested we ask “Where are You in this? What can I do about it? What can I learn? How does this inform me about Your purposes?”) I am reminded again of the challenge of God’s view vs ours.
    Thanks again.

    I understand about the twins as over 60 years ago we had twins, they were identical in the same sack. One lived about 10 min but likely would have been mentally challenged. How hard it would have been for that child to live and know she was not as smart as her sister and the other way as well.
    BUT I hope that surviving twin as that child grows gets counselling.
    We were very young and I am not sure the doctors understood until she was 5 that she had almost a nervous breakdown. We were told she would always have some emotional problems as the two babies living is such close area whether identical or not when they do not have their twin will feel something missing.
    If you can support those parents and child or at least to get advise on what they should be aware of and talk about the twin who did not make it I think that helps.
    Enjoy your writings.

    Thank you, Rod – and God bless you and your family, and the precious life of the one remaining for you all.

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