It’s nearly 10pm on a Saturday night, and I’m a pastor who has no energy for anything right now, especially to write. But this afternoon a friend died, and I have to write something.
Dr. David Self, the Associational Missionary for the Washington Baptist Association (Georgia), knows now what his faith was for – he sees what has been made sight.
Honestly, I have known others who’ve died after contracting COVID, but David was the first one who was a personal friend. I’m having a difficult time with it.
Oh, there are so, so many more people in this part of Georgia that are far more devastated by this loss than me. My loss is nothing like that of his wife, Kathy, or the rest of his family. It sure shook my world when my own father died, and I saw how it affected my mother and sister. So, I know this is harder for them than for me.
But if one thing remains, it’s my faith. The same faith the David Self had. The same that his family has, as evidenced by the Facebook post from his daughter, Kelly Self Carter.
My favorite hymn is “The Solid Rock.” To paraphrase the lyrics, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, not the recovery of health to those for which we desperately pray.
Before I learned of David’s passing, I had called for a gathering of folk to pray for him in the parking lot of our Associational Office. But before 10 minutes had passed after putting out the call on Facebook and over texts, I was told he died. He may have already been gone when I sent out the first message. But I went, anyway.
As I told another pastor, “Even if God didn’t heal David, He’s still worthy to be praised!” If it were not for the Lord, prayer would be useless and death would be inevitable. But it’s not! There is hope, and not only in this life, but when this life is over – because it will be, one day, COVID or not.
Consider the words of Job after he had lost everything but his life and his grieving wife…
Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.Job 1:21
Would David had died anyway, despite our prayers? That’s not for me to say, but it was always right to pray. Just read what King David said after losing the first child he had with Bathsheba…
He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let him live.'”2 Samuel 12:22 CSB
We don’t know what God is doing, for His ways are higher than ours, and so are His thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). Therefore, being commanded to pray for each other, we pray – and we trust the One to whom we pray.
And what perfect timing! As if God wanted me to affirm the truthfulness of the previous sentence, I just got THIS from a friend on Facebook Messenger…
Please take a moment to thank your sweet church folks for all the prayers for my Cody when he was so sick from covid. He was able to come by our house for a little bit today and I was FINALLY able to hug my son!!! I thought I was possibly going to lose my boy… but sweet Christian people, who don’t even know us, prayed for God to intervene and heal him. Today I received the hug I wasn’t sure I ever would have again.Rhonda Altum Barnette
We are all going to miss Dr. David Self. However, “we do not sorrow as those who have no hope,” for the hope that David had is the same that we have – that I have – and that’s in Jesus Christ. Our day will come, COVID or not, and on that day our faith will be made sight, as David Self is experiencing this moment.
Please go to church somewhere in the morning.