Holiness

This post is written by Sam but was originally shared on hopemommies.org as part of the Adorned with Wisdom Blog Series. To read more from Adorned with Wisdom, visit hopemommies.org/tag/adorned-with-wisdom.


In the wake of Max’s death, as I was stumbling through my grief, trying to make sense of this great and unexpected loss, I had a friend “encourage” me with a passage of Scripture.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
— 1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV

Let me begin by saying that I know this friend was truly trying to help and encourage my heart, but it definitely felt a little dismissive to read the words “though now for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” For a little while? Try the rest of my life.

Of course the death of my precious boy did result in suffering “grief in all kinds of trials,”and in light of all of eternity, my sorrow—though it last all of my days on earth—is but for a little while, but was this verse really suggesting that my son died simply to make my faith more genuine?

Did my son die so that I would become more holy?

As I pondered this question, I began to search God’s Word for an answer. And as always, searching God’s Word brought me great comfort, while also challenging what I thought I knew of God.

First of all, the Word is clear that death occurs because we live in a broken world that has been tainted by sin. When sin entered the world, so did death (Genesis 2:17). And when sin is eradicated once and for all when Jesus returns, so too death will be eradicated.

See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind…
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in My people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
— Isaiah 65:17-20, NIV

But while my son did not die for the sole purpose of making me more holy, I can’t say I know the exact or full reason.

‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,’
declares the Lord.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.’
— Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV

But I do know that God redeems all things and uses them for His glory—even the death of my
son, and my immense suffering in the midst of it. So while my increased holiness is not the sole reason Max died, it is a way that God can and will use Max’s death for His glory and greater purposes. When I press into God and allow Him to refine me through trials such as the death of my child, I will begin to look more like Christ. That’s the process of sanctification—letting every event, every moment, draw me toward Christ and becoming more like Him.

Which brings me back to 1 Peter 1:6-7. When Peter says that trials come so that our faith may be proved genuine, I don’t believe he’s talking about proving anything to God. After all, God is all-knowing.

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis’ reflections on the death of his beloved wife, he suggests the same. “[I do not believe] God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”¹

I don’t know about you, but I find this all too true of me. When Max died, it felt like my carefully constructed world came crashing down. And in the rubble of what I thought I knew about God, myself, and life, I found some solid truths were left standing, but the lies, misunderstandings, and wishful thinking didn’t hold up.

Slowly I began to sort through the truths that remained and throw out everything else. Eventually, a truer understanding of God’s goodness, sovereignty, and unending love was erected. I began to know God for who He truly is, not merely who I wanted Him to be.

Friend, no matter where you are in your grief journey, whether it is a new, sharp pain, or an older, dull ache, consider this truth: God is saddened by death. It is not His desire for this world. But in His infinite power and goodness, He can use even the death of your child, to refine you and your faith.

As you process your loss, I encourage you to lean into the Lord. Test what you believe about Him and His character. See if it can bear the weight of this great loss. Toss out the lies, and begin rebuilding your life on the firm foundation of His Word.

As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in Him
will never be put to shame.’
— 1 Peter 2:4-6, NIV