Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When Tragedy Strikes: The Sovereignty of God in the Acts of God

My father's automobile wreck, November of 1971.  Highway 17 just north of Bowling Green, Florida.

 . . .that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. (1 Thessalonians 3:3 NKJ)

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16 KJV)

Probably the most traumatic experience one can go through in life is losing a loved one in a tragic accident.  While we call these events "accidents", they are in another sense not accidents at all.  These events are more properly referred to as "acts of God".  Absolutely nothing happens by accident from God's perspective.  (Proverbs 16:33).  All things are in His control and have been predetermined before creation.  (Isaiah 46:9, 10). 

It is with great difficulty I write this post.  Even after almost forty years have passed I still feel the pain of the loss of my father's life in the tragic automobile accident you see in the picture.  At the time I was only twelve-years-old.  My mother was left a widow with seven young children, and I am the eldest.

I cannot say with any certainty if my father went home to be with the Lord or if his soul now suffers in everlasting torment and awaiting the great day of judgment.  (Revelation 20:11-15; John 5:27-29; 2 Peter 2:4-9).   Although I know my father did read the Bible occasionally, he never attended church during that first twelve years of my life.  He was apt to curse when angry.  But none of this means that Dad was not elect of God.  It simply means I cannot know for sure, which is a sad state of affairs.  From all that I know it is most likely that he was not saved.

The question for those left behind is often, "Why, Lord?"  I was certainly not perfect at age twelve.  But I had been to several churches, including Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, and a local Presbyterian church, which separated from the Presbyterian Church USA in later years to join with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).  I read the Bible and prayed often but never joined a church nor was I baptized.  My parents refused to allow me to be baptized when I accepted an altar call at age six or seven at a Church of God service in Weaver, Alabama.  That decision was probably a good thing, although at the time I resented not being allowed to be baptized.

Neither of my parents were church members, nor did they teach us the Bible or pray over meals with us children.  My mother had been raised in the Primitive Baptist faith, which does not emphasize Bible study or discipleship.  She was and is therefore not knowledgeable in the Scriptures.  I do not know much about my father's religious training other than that he read the Proverbs.  He once encouraged me to read Proverbs 1 when discussing male and female relationships.

After my father's death in November of 1971 I became angry with God.  Why did this have to happen to our family?  We were poor already.  My father and mother worked hard to support the family.  That anger led to many years of rebellion against God.

In God's sovereignty when I did return to church and rededicate my life to Christ it was in the context of a false church and a false religion, namely Pentecostalism.  But that is another post for another day.

The short answer is that in the end my father's death served to prove to me that God is in control of all that happens.  All things both good and bad work for the good of God's elect (Romans 8:28-32). 

I regret that this is not a long and detailed theological discussion.  But I just wanted my readers to know that suffering in this life is often for our own good.  God knows exactly what He's doing to us and for us.  And it is all for His own glory!  Absolutely nothing happens "by accident".   (Proverbs 16:33; Acts 17:28).

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" 26 "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" (Romans 9:22-26 KJV)

Postscript:  My mother is not a believer even today.  She thinks religion is just a state of mind and that it is o.k. to be gay.  I have a younger brother who is a homosexual.

This family photo was taken a day or so after my father died:

Mt. Pisgah Road and County Line Rd., Bowling Green, FL, Nov., 1971


William said...

Amen and thanks Charlie for this awesome testimony of trust in God's Sovereignty. I can only imagine how hard this loss was and continues to be for you. I pray God will grant you a continuing growth of true peace and confidence in His sovereign and yet gracious Will (I wouldn't mind your prayers for my growth in this as well).

God Bless,
William (Ashton Scott)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thank-you, William. When death occurs without forewarning it is a reminder that God can and does cut folks off in their sins, confirming that they are reprobates rather than elect. On the other hand, it is precious when one of God's saints passes on. (Psalm 116:15).

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