When something you hold dear is lost, it can feel like part of you is gone. The hole Isaac leaves is breathtaking, and sometimes I find myself reeling in the fact that he is really and truly gone. Yes, God did a marvelous work in his life nineteen days before he died, and we are eternally grateful.
But our years of prayers and tears and fasting were not done with just a few days in mind. We saw a life full of potential to reach hurting hearts, a man that felt so deeply that he could understand pain that few others could, and a passion for truth and honesty. Why, with so much potential, was his life snuffed out at its prime, and just when he was ready to follow God anywhere? Where were all the prayers? Did God wink at the tears? We know, as we have been taught all our lives, that God is good and does all things well. But when you face sometime darker than you imagined possible, God has to reveal that truth to you Himself. Suddenly you need God to show you that He IS loving, and good, even when life itself holds so much pain.
Elisabeth Elliot’s puts it very well:
“Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain. If God were God, if He were omnipotent, if He had cared, would this have happened? Is this that I face now the ratification of my calling, the reward of obedience? One turns in disbelief again from the circumstances and looks into the abyss. But in the abyss there is only blackness, no glimmer of light, no answering echo.”
I know that this valley will not last forever. And thankfully, this sin cursed earth will not last forever either. I don’t claim to understand why God took Isaac, but I lift my hands heavenward, full of ashes and dashed dreams, and believe that someday God will indeed make beauty and life from these ashes.
“This grief, this sorrow, this total loss that empties my hands and breaks my heart, I may, if I will, accept, and by accepting it, I find in my hands something to offer. And so I give it back to Him, who in mysterious exchange gives Himself to me.”
-Elisabeth Elliot, These Strange Ashes