Imagine your son and four daughters along with your spouse travel on a ship to a far away place leaving you behind. Your son dies before the journey. Your spouse goes with your four daughters. All your daughters perish at sea with only your spouse reaching the destination alive.
Imagine a daughter telling her Muslim family that she has converted to Christ and as a female blogger she begins to share the Good News online all over her nation. She returns home to find her bedroom door open and she meets someone sitting on her bed staring at her in disgust. The man leaves the room and then returns and ties her down, burns her face, burns her back, cuts out her tongue and kills her. The man that put her to death was her own brother – her own brother.
Imagine finishing college, moving to a new country and establishing yourself as a teacher, you fall in love, make plans to settle in your hometown and the day before your wedding – your fiancé drowns to her death. Then you move to another country and God allows you to meet another woman and within a matter of weeks as you plan for marriage; this lady falls ill and dies. Then you vow a vow of poverty, have all your earthly possessions sold and vow to give your life to the physically handicapped and financially destitute – devoting your life to prayer and bible study and your mother falls ill. You are so poor that you cannot visit her. Heartsick, with no funds to go home to help care for her; you write a story of your life and a word of encouragement in three short verses and send it to her before she passes away.
All of these are real life stories of those who were ‘onto death’ a Christian. Horatio G. Stafford, Sara Fatima Al-Mutairi and Joseph Scriven all demonstrate how God gives those who are poor in spirit (Matt 5. 3) and profoundly dependant upon Him the Grace to abide in Him through the darkest of hours and through the most horrific of human evil and betrayal. How much more – Jesus Christ at the Cross; who was willingly submitted himself under the will of His Father, who was betrayed not by strangers but by one of His Own, and who never prayed ‘God Forbid’ for negative situations but always ‘Let thine own will be done’. Brethren, God hasn’t promised a life without difficulties; He has promised that in them difficulties – He is there with us. If a broken and humble man of God was to begin his sermon within the modern church today with some of the examples above – the response would be: God Forbid!
That which we say ‘God Forbid!’ to today; happened in the lives of those we claim to be a part of yesterday. ‘God Forbid!’ my children shall not die before my time. ‘God Forbid!’ cancer shall not be my own. ‘God Forbid!’ I shall not witness a death of a loved one. ‘God Forbid!’ I shall not lose my job. ‘God Forbid!’ I shall not have this or that. ‘God Forbid!’ the tragedy that happened to my neighbour shall not happen to me.
Brothers and Sisters – Take Heed. This is the language of both false converts and true converts who have been ‘forgiven little’ (Luke 7.47) in the area of God’s Sovereignty and a holistic view of the scriptures. Bad things will and must happen to all – and it is to the Glory of God that this happens. It is the presence of the Lord in amidst of our trials and difficulties and bad things that gives us peace – and not our ability to endure it. The more one grows in and with the Lord and the more one holistically understands mans total depravity and God’s Holy decree via Romans 3.23 that all men and all women are hell deserving sinners; the more a redeemed soul will ask less: ‘Why is this evil happening to me? I don’t deserve this!’ and the more they will say: ‘In fact I deserve worse but for your Grace upon me O Lord; may this situation bring Glory to your name!’
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake (Psalm 115.1)
A message to my young son and my young daughter: Do not let the world deceive you. Death will and must happen to all. The biblical world view of death is this: It will happen to all (Eccles 3.20); nobody knows their time (Luke 12.19-21); don’t you dare believe you are entitled to see tomorrow (James 4.12-15); repent, bow your knee and believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 3.19). Newspapers, News Channels, Documentaries, YouTube debates and vlogger profiles, interviews and reality tv shows may convince you pretty well – that the evil of man is sovereign. But the Bible tells us that whilst the evil of man is a deep as the sea bed; God’s Grace is deeper still (Col 2.15). God’s Grace doesn’t only give but it restrains.
Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain (Psalm 76.10)
I don’t know about your culture; but within mine it’s so common to see African Aunties and Uncles and Youngers – in fact: everyone use this ‘God Forbid’ term loosely. Now i’m not saying this term in and of itself is a sinful term; I can see in some contexts how and why it is used – nobody (generally speaking) wishes bad upon oneself and one’s family. However; Christ is the end of it all. In Him alone – there is joy and peace. In Him we live, we breathe, we move and we have our being. I’ll never forget some years ago – one time when I went to a church service and heard the testimony of a young christian mother who had a miscarriage. She told of how difficult it had been for her but how God had and has been graceful. That’s not it. I was with water stained eyes when I heard the mother of this young mother pray for her at the same service and said: ‘Thank you Lord that you have not promised fit and able children; Thank you Lord that you have promised us you.’
I shook my head with my face in my hands and thought: WOW! AMEN! God has promised us – God. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37.4). This means that if your desire is the Lord; then the Lord will give you – The Lord! Not God Forbid – but O that God will Grant that to each and every single one of us. Jesus Christ plus nothing is Everything. There is no ‘Come to the Lord and…’ It is only: Come to the Lord.