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By Chad Cummings

On August 3, 2009, our fifth child was born to my wife, Emily, and me. Emily had known for a long time what he should be called: Ransom Lewis Cummings. The first name, Ransom, had come from one of our favorite Bible verses found in the Gospel According to Mark: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, NASB). This verse was particularly special to us as we had experienced this reality firsthand. His middle name was to be Lewis, which was given as a show of honor and respect for my dad’s side of the family. I can still remember holding him for the first time that morning in the hospital after he was born. As I did with all of my newborn children, I whispered the words, “Jesus loves you…and so do your mom and dad.”

Every day and every moment with our children is something to be savored and cherished. This would prove even more so with Ransom, for a short three and one-half years later, we would suddenly lose him in a drowning accident while swimming at a local lake.
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This shortness of the life of our precious son was not what we had hoped and prayed for. In fact, this was not even on our radar of possible outcomes. All of a sudden without warning, we were thrown into a situation of indescribable pain and sorrow. But through it all, we can testify that the Lord never left us. The truth of His Word has never failed. This enabled us to survive. Beyond mere survival, though, there are two realities that have allowed us to walk in joy-filled hope despite the deep pain that is still so very real today.

We live in a fallen world. The evidence surrounds us daily. From the toil of labor that bears thistles and thorns to the pain experienced within broken relationships to the relentless enmity felt from the devil and his fallen angels, the evidence of a world that has been corrupted and twisted into something other than what the Lord originally intended for it to be is obvious.

Arguably, the clearest proof of sin’s corrupting influence upon God’s creation is death. After the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, both the immediate and delayed effects of the curse caused the world to never be the same. Their shame, fear, and banishment from the Garden was tragic. But even more devastating was the pronouncement of death as part of the consequence of sin.
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The first human death that is recorded for us in the Bible is that of Abel. While we often read about this tragedy and its subsequent impact upon the life of Cain as a historic misfortune, we have a tendency to overlook the personal nature of this awful death. If we allow ourselves to insert ourselves into that scene several millennia ago, what would we discover?

We would find that because of death the once harmonious dynamics of the first family were disrupted in such a way that they would never be the same; a painful void and vacancy had broken into their lives. We would find that because of death, family relationships would become strained and difficult. Furthermore, we would find that beyond the reality of a son slaying another son, there would be great confusion regarding how to handle the sorrow of death. Death and the emotions created by it are not something mankind was originally equipped to handle. God had not given Adam instructions in the Garden on how to conduct a funeral. But now, death and its ensuing trauma had disrupted the lives of Adam and Eve in a way they could have never imagined.

GOD IS SOVEREIGN…

Although the reality of a fallen world ravaged by sin is felt by all of us on a daily basis, just as real or in fact even more real is the sovereignty of God. While corruption, sin, and death are felt now, through the work of Christ they are only temporary. They had a beginning, and they will have an end. Therefore, sin and death have ultimately been defeated for those who call on the name of Jesus Christ for their salvation, confessing Him to be Lord. In this way God, who is eternally sovereign, proves Himself to be a greater reality than this fallen world.

So much in this age of corruption arrogantly screams dominion over our lives. But the truth is that in Christ we have the bold confidence to defy those claims against us. Jesus Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings; therefore, we stand firm in the face of tragedy because of God’s Word:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified (Romans 8:28-30, NASB).

The greater reality of the sovereignty of Jesus Christ, who is Lord over all including our fallenness, gives us the rock-solid platform to stand on, by which we may boldly declare:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39, NASB).

While the untimely death of our son was not at all what we had expected, we know that the Lord is on His throne and He will have the final word. Our lives are hidden in Christ, and no plan of the enemy or corruption caused by sin is able to undermine who we are in Him; it can only serve to bring ultimate glory to the King.

THERE IS A BLESSED TIME THAT’S A COMIN’…

Secondly, because God is sovereign, He has ultimate power and authority over death. While the circumstances around us may try to dictate otherwise, there is coming a time in the near future that the Lord is going to display before creation His sovereignty and dominion over sin, death, and the grave.

Scripture teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. While our bodies may go to the grave, our spirit goes to be in the presence of the Lord. At the time of Christ’s return, body and soul will be reunited yet changed. This change, although somewhat of a mystery, will result in the dead in Christ being raised immortal, imperishable, incorruptible, and eternal. When this takes place in the twinkling of an eye, then the full victory of Christ will be completely manifest, whereby the triumphant shout will be heard:

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
(1 Corinthians 15:54-55, NASB).

It may seem strange to say, but as a result of losing our son, the Lord has blessed my wife and me with a precious gift: the gift of faith that produces a bold assurance even in the face of death that God is sovereign and His authority will be revealed for all of creation to see at the final resurrection. Indeed, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

DESPITE THE PAIN, DON’T GIVE UP!

Some reading this will be able to relate to our pain. And because the suffering of this world is no respecter of persons, there may be others reading this who will be called on by the Lord to endure similar tragedy and heartache. Therefore, I conclude with a word of encouragement from the Spirit-inspired words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body (2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NASB).

As a result of this perspective, Paul was able to express great confidence:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison
(2 Corinthians 4:16-17, NASB).

While Paul’s words are in the context of his sufferings in ministry, I believe his words of encouragement spill over into the rest of our lives as followers of Christ. In the pain of our losses and the disappointment of tragedies without number, in a fallen world where children die and a million other things happen that should never happen, in Christ may we never give up but continually look to the One who loves us and gave Himself up for us.

About the Author

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Chad Cummings is the lead pastor of Gospel Open Bible Church in Jefferson, Iowa. He and his wife, Emily, have been married nineteen years and are blessed with five amazing children and one granddaughter. Chad blogs regularly at noapologiesforapologetics.com.

About The Author

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