God comforts us in loss
As I was sitting in the waiting area of a doctor’s office, my mind was on the subject of the various ways in which God works. It was during that time that I received a text message from Kentucky Today’s Mark Maynard. The text message read as follows: “Hey Brother, Harold Cathey is in hospice. His homegoing is imminent … he may not make it through the day.”
For those of you who may not be familiar with Harold Cathey, he was one of the finest men of God that the convention has ever seen. He had a ministry span of 50 years, serving as a Kentucky Baptist Convention pastor, missionary to Uganda and director of missions in the Greenup Association of Baptist Churches.
It wasn’t long after I received Mark’s first text message that I received his second. The second message simply read, “He is gone.” I would not be able to describe for you my feelings at that point, but I can tell you my thoughts went immediately to his family, friends and church. I thought about the hundreds, maybe thousands, that came to know the Lord through the ministry of Harold Cathey.
My prayer response was rather typical. I prayed, “God, please comfort the family and friends of Brother Harold Cathey. After all God, Your Word says that You are the ‘God of all comfort’ (2 Cor.1:3b NKJV).'” As I continued my wait in the doctor’s office, I asked myself, “How will God do that? How will God comfort the family, friends and the church Harold pastored for all those many years?”
I suddenly recalled the teachings of Dr. Henry and Richard Blackaby, along with Claude King, in their revised and expanded version of Experiencing God. Their teaching reminded me, yes, God is at work comforting the family, friends and church of Harold Cathey, but He also invites those He has redeemed to join Him in that work.
Based on what I had gleaned from the Experiencing God book, here is what I concluded about Brother Cathey’s passing: God’s Spirit will be at work to provide comfort; there will be the reading from the Word of God to provide comfort; there will be prayers offered to provide comfort, and the church will be present to provide comfort.
God will work through His people in special ways.
Perhaps some of God’s people will send flowers; some may simply sit with the family; others will answer and make phone calls in the family’s behalf; while others may bring food, and the list could go on and on.
Read carefully the following scripture: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 3-4 NKJV)
Yes, it is true. God is always at work around us, but He also invites you and me to be involved in the work that He is doing. I discovered that our job, as the people of God, is to be in a right relationship with Him so that we will be ready for Him to work through us when His next assignment comes.
I close with a quote from The Experiencing God Study Bible, “He works in your personal life, your family, your church, your work, your community, your nation, your world. He wants you to have a God-centered perspective that sees where He is working and assumes He wants you to join Him.”
Paul Badgett is east regional consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.