They Wept With Us

Christian Living, Ministry, Parenting, The Church

weepingAs a young pastor, I sometimes have to preach and counsel about areas of life that I simply haven’t lived long enough to experience on my own. On some level, all pastors inevitably deal with areas of life in which we are not personally familiar, but nevertheless we can turn to the Scriptures and apply God’s Word, perhaps with the assistance of other Christians who have walked in the shoes we’re trying to lace up. By God’s gracious providence, my life has been mostly void of the pain of personal loss. I have lost family members to disease and old age, and had friends who were killed in combat, but their deaths weren’t shocking, and while sad, felt as normal as they truly are in the cycle of daily life in a fallen world. However, back in March my wife and I experienced the most shocking loss we’ve encountered to date, and the weeping, mourning, and pain that I’ve preached about and counseled others through came to rest in my own home for the first time.

In January of this year, my wife and I were delighted to learn that she was pregnant with our third child. We have two little girls, and were so excited to see if they would get a brother or a sister – was I going to have some masculine assistance around the house, or is it my lot to continue solely in the world of princess dresses, pink bows, and strange bouts of crying (All of which I am now quite fond of and capable of handling)?! Having girls has changed me – even I sometimes feel like I might just need a good cry, and what’s not wonderful about being nose to nose and laughing about nothing? Simply stated, I love my children in a very special way, and the thought of a house full of them is exciting! However, this year it wasn’t God’s plan. After the 11 week mark of pregnancy, the heart beat had stopped – our baby had died, and we were stunned.

Prior to experiencing the miscarriage of my own child, I had talked with many women and their husbands who had experienced the miscarriage of theirs. Having been in several of those situations, it was easy for me to assume that it’s a normal part of pregnancy, and that it wouldn’t be overly difficult to deal with. Likewise, my wife is a Physician’s Assistant and spends her days dealing with all kinds of medical issues that change people’s lives forever – this never seemed to be one that would land on us the way it did. Ignorance is bliss.

The days that followed were painful, and full of intermittent and intense emotions that seemed like they would never end. We spent time thinking through God’s Word and being reminded of His promises to never leave or forsake us, to comfort us in our affliction, and to bring beauty from the ashes. And that’s just what He did, in a very unsuspecting way. I’ve preached quite a few sermons on the topic of suffering as well as many others on the importance of the local church for every child of God. Little did I know, the two would come together in a dramatic and powerful way that has for me, forever highlighted the importance of a solid foundation of both in the Christian life.

One of the most striking moments in my pastoral experience thus far was standing in front of the people of Ephesus Church and saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). It was in that moment that all the preaching, all the Sunday school lessons, all the private conversations, all the books I had read about the importance of the body of Christ had come to rest in a dramatic and important way – God’s people began to weep with us (Romans 12:15). Through the tears in my eyes, I saw the tears in theirs. Part of the body was hurt, injured, afflicted, and so the rest of the body was likewise burdened with the pain and shared in the grief (1 Corinthians 12:26). Soon after we had made it known, we heard from many other couples who have experienced the same pain, and were encouraged by their words and actions, full of overwhelming love and support. Never had we felt like we needed the church as much as we did in those days, and all of God’s promises about the church proved to be gloriously true. We were the recipients of the love of God’s people who love us because Christ first loved them. And while I feel completely inadequate to do what I’m called to do as a pastor each day, I am indebted to Ephesus Church and, Lord willing, desire to give the remainder of my life to serving her. I was once told by a well meaning, older pastor who had spent 30 years moving around to different churches that it was important to not let too much of my life be on display before God’s people – in essence, I was told to resign to the fact that my life wasn’t intermingled with the lives of everyone else in the church, so I would be lonely and detached. I am glad the Scriptures taught me otherwise. I need the church, I need them to know my life, and I need them to know of my joys and sorrows – I can’t rightly respond to life without them.

Undoubtedly, in this fallen world we will endure a tremendous amounts of sorrow, but the more sorrow we bear the more we learn of the Lord’s compassion provided in both the means of grace and His people. He alone has the power and the authority to cause us to persevere, He has bore our griefs and sorrows, and He knows our pain. In the midst of the hurt and pain, it may not seem like it, but it truly is for our greatest good and for His greatest glory. He will bring his mercy and compassion to bear on the points of pain and sorrow in our lives. He will bring healing. He will bring life. And I am all the more convinced that without the body of Christ, without the church, there really is no healing. Yes, Jesus is enough, but I cannot love Jesus and despise, shut out, or ignore His bride. Ephesus Church has loved us well, and I will never forget that when the clouds rolled in, they wept with us, and the truth of God’s Word was on display. Soli deo Gloria.

(By: Nick Kennicott)

A Man There Is, A Real Man

Music, Worship

Years ago when I was picking out worship songs for a church plant I was helping to establish I came across #23 in Gadsby’s Hymns.  I was gripped by the simple beauty and unique subject matter of the song, and set it to the tune of How Sweet and Awful is the Place (#271, Blue Trinity Hymnal) for use in our worship.  It quickly became a favorite.  Here are the words:

A Man there is, a real Man

With wounds still gaping wide,

From which rich streams of blood once ran,

In hands, and feet, and side


[Tis no wild fancy of our brains,

No metaphor we speak;

That same dear Man in heaven now reigns

That suffered for our sake.]


This wondrous Man of whom we tell,

Is true Almighty God;

He bought our souls from death and hell;

The price, his own heart’s blood.


That human heart he still retains,

Though throned in highest bliss;

And feels each tempted member’s pains;

For our affliction’s his.


Come, then, repenting sinner come;

Approach with humble faith;

Owe what thou wilt the total sum

Is cancelled by His death.


His blood can cleanse the blackest soul,

And wash our guilt away;

He will present us sound and whole,

On that tremendous day.

The author is Joseph Hart, but I don’t know anything else about it.  After I’d been using it for a bit I saw a post on also highlighting it, but again not knowing much about it.  I’d love to see it set to a modern tune and used more frequently in the churches for worship.  What an excellent meditation on an oft neglected truth- the incarnation was not temporary, even the risen Savior had physical nail wounds he could show to Thomas.  When he ascended, the incarnate God-man took his seat at the right hand of the Father.  A Man there is, a real Man… interceding for us there even now.  It is that Man we worship, because that Man is true Almighty God.  What a wondrous and glorious truth for the church to confess together in song!

(by: Nicolas Alford)