by: Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer Columnist Barb Lissow
The Pastor’s Wife
January 30, 2020
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
This month marks an important anniversary of the passing of a dear friend, sister-in-Christ, and Pastor’s wife. The news of her unexpected death was an awful shock to me. I knew she had been sick – we received the mass “prayer-request email” when she entered the hospital, but there were no details of her illness. Because she lived in another state far away, I prayed she would quickly recover and be out in time to begin her “new” year at home with her family.
Although we didn’t get to see each other often, when we were together, she always made me feel like we were forever bonded in the love of Christ – two people with the same goals –to serve God, His people, and our families with joyful and thankful hearts. No, our lives were not perfect – whose are? Hers was especially challenging – she suffered with chronic physical pain as well as the stressful difficulties of raising special needs children. The last time I saw my friend was at a Pastors’ Wives’ Retreat. She seemed uncharacteristically quiet, and at a break between our busy activities, we took the time to just sit and visit. She confessed that she wasn’t feeling well and that there were unexpected struggles with one of her children. Her tears were heartbreaking to me – seeing her vulnerability was a reality check that even the strongest of God’s servants can become burdened and overwhelmed.
You’ve heard it – I know you have: ”God’s timing is perfect” and “God’s ways are not our ways.” These are paraphrases of Scripture from Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”) and Isaiah 55:8 (“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord). Believers use these promises from God all the time for reassurance to questions of “Why God?”
About the same time of my friend’s passing, my lovely daughter Lara gave me a book by Gene Edwards called “The Prisoner in the Third Cell.” The book’s Scripture reference is Matthew 11:1-15. John the Baptist is in Herod’s prison, and he sends his disciples to ask if Jesus was the one who was to come (the Messiah) or should they all be looking for someone else. What? Questions of God? Doubt? From John the Baptist? John the prophet who saw Jesus in the flesh – proclaimed Jesus’ deity at the river baptism? Was John questioning the Master’s intentions – “You’ve saved and healed many, yet you’re going to leave me, your greatest servant, here in this dungeon, facing death alone?” Jesus’ answer to John’s disciples is perhaps not the clear and precise answer we might expect or want to hear: “…many are healed, and the Good News is preached.” (Matthew 11:5) (Notice many, not ALL, but many were healed.) Then Jesus adds an unusual statement in verse 6: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” Another translation of this passage is “Blessed is he who is not offended by me.” God does not owe us obvious answers to our “whys,” yet we are promised a blessing if we follow His ways in faith (“do not turn away”) when His actions seem unfair or the answer we’re looking for is unclear.
Mr. Edwards wrote what Jesus might have been thinking as He sent John’s disciples away: “If ever I wanted to give an answer to a man’s questions, to explain my sovereign ways, it is today. Yet I have been to you, as to all others, a Lord not fully understood, a God who rarely makes clear exactly what He is doing in the life of one of His children.” Yes, God is sovereign. Mr. Edwards puts it this way: “Shall we scorn (God) that He has revealed so little concerning His ways or rejoice that He has revealed so much?” Praise God! He is Holy, Just and Merciful – and we may never fully understand His ways until we see Him face to face.
John the Baptist’s death seemed untimely. My friend’s passing seemed untimely. But her final earthly call to the loving arms of her Savior was at His perfect time. She was faithful in her love of Jesus Christ, and she was confident of her eternal home. God ushered out the “old” and welcomed home the “new” pastor’s wife, and I thank Him for allowing this shining example of Christ’s servant heart to be part of my faith journey. If I’ve learned anything from her passing, it is to listen to those gentle whispers of God: when He puts the thought of one of His children on our hearts, especially if it’s one of the strongest of those who always seem to have their lives together, who are the encouragers of others, or His prayer warriors. We are exhorted to respond to that gentle urging, because even the strongest of the faithful have their weak and vulnerable moments. In this new year my friends, I encourage you to take time to reach out and reconnect with those who have touched your lives; show them Jesus!
In His love, Barb Lissow
Faith Lutheran Church, Pocatello, ID
Please join Pastor Kirk and the congregation at Faith Lutheran Church, 856 W. Eldredge Road, Pocatello, for Bible Study at 9 AM and Worship Service at 10:00 AM. Sunday School and Children’s Church for the kids!