Sharing Christ’s Cup

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me…”

Psalm 23:4

This summer, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Greg Harris and his wife, Betsy, while I was taking classes at The Master’s College in California. After speaking to them for only a few minutes, I was struck by how kind and gracious they each were. Only later would I learn about some of the amazing work God has done in the Harrises’ lives through times of great suffering and darkness. Dr. Harris has described some of their story in his book on suffering and the sovereignty of God entitled The Cup and The Glory.    

In the introduction of his book, Dr. Harris describes how a simple lesson he attempted to teach his young daughter, Lauren, would soon be used by God to teach him far more about trust and obedience than he would ever have imagined. When Lauren took some candy from his desk without asking, Dr. Harris required that she return it saying, “Place them both in my hands.” He continues the story:

Little did I realize what I was trying to teach our children would in just a few hours be thrust on Betsy and myself as our heavenly Father would call for the same obedience from us. Having informed those at the Wednesday service of the serious problems in Betsy’s pregnancy, problems discovered only on the previous day, and having been comforted by the love and support of these cherished friends, we moved in a dazed stupor as Betsy unexpectedly went into labor later that very night. As we rushed to the hospital about midnight, we knew the situation was quite grim for the identical twin girls she was carrying. As Lauren’s earlier, my response was quite reluctant. Even at the hospital when we first received the news the babies yet to be born would not live, I still expected deep inside if I gave the twins to God, then He would give them back to me. Until the nurses gently wrapped the first lifeless baby into blankets and carried her away from us, and then repeated the process with the second baby, I somehow believed there was still an outside hope for them. Only after the nurse walked down the hall with our second baby and turned the corner forever out of our sight this side of heaven, did I fully realize this was one of those times when God had closed His hand over what had been placed into it…

Hours earlier I had instructed Lauren how deeply we loved her, and how we desired the best for her. I told her whether or not I gave her the candy she wanted was no indication of our love for her. These words were said probably more for my own benefit than for that of a four-year-old. Once more the Lord brought my own teaching back to me. God’s love for His children is not only stated in Scripture but also ultimately demonstrated in the sacrificial death of His own Son, Jesus. Even more so, God knows firsthand what it was like to stand by and watch the death of His own child—and He could have intervened and stopped it at any moment. God has exhibited His love for us in not only making us His children, but in infinitely countless ways every day of our existence. His love for us—and for our twins—is not contingent on whether we bring the little girls into our home, or God brings them into His.

“Place them both into My hands.”

“We have, Lord, and thank You for taking such good care of them.”

[The Cup and the Glory, pp. 10-11]

Traveling through the valley of the shadow and then the wilderness for several years after that tragic event, Dr. Harris gained a great deal of wisdom which he has graciously shared in The Cup and the Glory. In the following video, Dr. Harris explains more about the purpose and message of this powerful book.

Photo: Konrad Mostert

Seeing Clearly through the Darkness

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
   but now my eye sees you…”

Job 42:5

Released to the public less than two weeks ago, Mary Beth Chapman’s first book is already reaching a wide audience. Yesterday on Twitter, Mary Beth’s husband Steven Curtis Chapman said, “Amazing news received today…my bride’s book Choosing To See has the #16 spot on New York Times Best Seller list this week. Wow! Humbled.”

In the following excerpt from Choosing to See and the video below, Mary Beth talks openly about the life she never planned to live, the book she never planned to write, and the God at the center of it all:  

So here I am, putting down these words one by one, because God has surprised me over the long days since Maria went to heaven. I have come face to face with evil and what part it plays in our lives, past, present, and future. I am realizing, though, that God is God, and He is purposeful in destroying what evil intends for harm. He is surprising me in good ways beyond what can be measured on this earth! I am living what I once only read in Genesis 50:20-21, where Joseph tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children…”

…The truth is, I was born with a plan. I wanted life to be safe and predictable. My plan was to marry someone with a nice nine-to-five schedule and have a tidy, organized life—everything under control.

Absolutely none of that came true!

And if it had—if I had lived the life I thought I wanted—I know I wouldn’t have experienced the grace or the miracles of God in the way that I have. What I’ve found is that it’s in the most unlikely times and places of hurt and chaos that God gives us a profound sense of His presence and the real light of His hope in the dark places.

So this book isn’t as much about me and Steven, as broken and crazy as we are. It’s about God…and how He can comfort, carry, and change us on our journey, no matter how hard it is.

[Choosing to See, pp. 24-25]

Visit Mary Beth’s blog HERE.

Related Post: The Chapmans–Choosing to SEE

God’s Love for the Little Ones

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. 
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
         How vast is the sum of them!”

Psalm 139:16-17

Few trials in life can compare to the earth-shaking tragedy of losing a child. In the agony of their loss, grieving parents often wonder, “Will I ever see my baby again?” In this video produced by Grace to You, Pastor John MacArthur points parents to the Scriptures for hope and comfort regarding God’s eternal care for their precious little ones.

In an article on the eternal destiny of babies and young children that have passed away, Dr. MacArthur provides further helpful instruction from God’s Word: 

Second Samuel 12:23 is one of the passages often quoted to imply that babies go to heaven. Though the verse doesn’t explicitly say that, David clearly does expect to one day be reunited with his departed child. Since we know David is a believer whose destiny was heaven, we can infer that his hope of reunion means he expected his child to be in heaven. Thus, 2 Samuel 12:23 suggests strong evidence for a heavenly destiny of the unborn and children who die young.

If this were all we had to support our position, it would be admittedly less than stalwart. However, there are other evidences that point us to the same conclusion. First, the Bible clearly teaches that God cares deeply for children. Passages like Matthew 18:1-6 and 19:13-15 affirm the Lord’s love for them. Those verses don’t state that children go to heaven, but they do show God’s heart toward children. He created and cares for children, and beyond that, He always accomplishes His perfect will in every circumstance.

The psalmist reminds us that God is “full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Ps. 86:15). He is the God who became flesh that He might carry our sins away by His death on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the God who will comfort Christians in heaven, for “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death; nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Rev. 21:4). We can be assured that God will do what is right and loving because He is the standard of rightness and love. Those considerations alone seem to be evidence enough of God’s particular, electing love shown to the unborn and those who die young.

However, another point may be helpful in answering this question. While infants and children have neither sensed their personal sin and need for salvation nor placed their faith in Christ, Scripture teaches that condemnation is based on the clear rejection of God’s revelation–whether general or specific–not simple ignorance of it (Luke 10:16; John 12:48; 1 Thess. 4:8).

Learn more about the comfort offered to grieving parents in the Scriptures by reading Dr. MacArthur’s book Safe in the Arms of God.

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Photo: Daniel Andres Forero