October 1, 2021 | by: Chris Kiiskinen | 0 comments
I am right now. It wasn’t my month to write the lead article, at least not on our schedule. But as it turned out, and as providence would have it, I WAS the person on the Lord’s schedule. A couple weeks ago, when we knew we needed someone to cover this month, I thought, no problem. Figure out your topic, get your thoughts together, start working it out in your head, put together your outline...then God interrupts the process. Dramatically.
As some of you know, my closest and dearest friend, apart from my wonderful wife, suddenly went home to be with Jesus about a week before this article was due. I could have asked someone else to cover, but as I thought about it, maybe all this was by God’s design for a reason. Pastors cry too. Sometimes a lot.
My friend, my buddy, my brother, Norvell Jetter (whom some of you know from when he and his family – Natalie, Nathaniel and Nia – attended Grace, before moving to Georgia) had a lung disease. Mostly, what it was causing outwardly, was just a nagging and constant cough. But inwardly, it was slowly scarring and hardening his lungs.
In August he and Natalie celebrated her 60th birthday with a wonderful vacation to a beautiful beach in Florida. After he got home, he developed pneumonia which eventually landed him in the hospital. During his six week stay, he seemed to get better then worse, then better, then worse.
On Sunday, September 19th at 10:16pm, the Lord took him home. All of the days that the Lord had given him were over. They had come to an end. He went quietly and peacefully with his family all around him. My friend was now gone from this earth. And my heart broke. It aches as I write this.
I have felt sorrow before. I’ve loved and lost Grandparents. Other people that I know have passed away. Kristine and I have lost many pets that we loved. (Ever wonder why pets hit you so hard?) I’ve experienced heartaches in ministry on many occasions. This loss hurts the most.
We know, simply by experience, that there are many things in this world that can cause us to feel broken. All of them are because of the sin that is present everywhere. Jesus knows this brokenness just as we do. He lost loved ones. He was betrayed by his closest friends. Crushed for our sins by His Father. And so much more. He knows the effects of sin far more than we do. That is why we must always turn to him when we are broken. He knows how to help!
Do you know what has given me comfort? God’s word and God’s people! God’s people have offered countless words of encouragement, prayers and hugs oozing with love and care.
One morning, as I walked into my office, there was a giant, handmade card from a number of my (now former) TYG Staffers, filled with notes of love and grace. God’s people are a great help! Initially, as I opened the card to see who it was from, I couldn’t read it. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes and I had to put it down until I was emotionally prepared to read their words of love. And they were beautiful words that brought comfort and joy amidst the sorrow.
Something that they, and many of God’s people, have used to bring that comfort is God’s word. His truth! Reminders that He comforts the brokenhearted. He gives peace that passes all understanding. He cares for us. He upholds the weary. He gives strength to the weak. Reminders that we will see each other again. That there will one day be no more tears, nor pain, nor sorrow. No more brokenness as Jesus casts sin and death away forever. There are so many verses and passages that I could list here, but it wouldn’t leave any room for the rest of the newsletter!
As you see and experience brokenness in your life (and we all will), how will you respond? My encouragement to you is to allow God’s Word and God’s people to be sources of comfort to you, as they have been to me. Turn to God’s Word and find comfort in His truths and promises. Turn to God’s people and allow them to minister to you. I still feel the heartache. I’m sure I will for a time. But the aches will soften. The breaks will heal. My heart will be okay...because it belongs to Jesus and he will help me.
I will leave you with the verses written on the front of the card TYG Staffers gave me...
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4
Come Lord Jesus!
Chris Kiiskinen is an Elder at Grace Bible Church