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CHRISTINA VOORHEIS MEMORIAL MESSAGE 12-3-11

December 4, 2011

CHRISTINA VOORHEIS MEMORIAL MESSAGE 12-3-11


Today we gather together to pay our last respects to Christina. I sense that there are no words I ever can say that can adequately console many of you for the hurt you may be feeling right now. No doubt we probably all feel she was too young … this was too quick and too tragic a loss for her and also for those who knew her and loved her. She is going to be greatly missed.

I knew Christina only as a sweet young girl of 14 when she came to our church, but like so many young people I lost touch with her. In 4 years she grew to be a young lady. In fact this past year at the Harford Fair a young man came up to me and introduced himself to me—it was Ernie, Christina’s brother. I would not have recognized him. Young people grow taller and handsome while we older people get shorter and fatter.

I am sure that for each person that knew Christina, there are going to be memories that will prompt sad thoughts. I remember when my mom passed away—and how many times I went to reach over to the phone to call her and realized I couldn’t do that any more. This is what hurts the most. We have been separated in this life from someone we love. If there is any word that defines death, it is this word separation. We have been separated from someone we love.

Now there are many questions that I will not be able to answer for you this morning, and I wish I could. There are many unknowns that we can only speculate about. We can try to speculate about why this happened to one so young. We can go on and on with assumptions and speculations and these unknowns. We will never know for sure this side of eternity: all our questions will not be answered. But there is some wisdom we can glean from great people in the Bible who have gone through similar tragedies.

I am reminded of a story in the Bible …

THE STORY OF KING DAVID

King David had a young child who was sick, and it was feared that this young child was going to die. The child was much younger than Christina. David wept and prayed for the child to live.

David refused to eat; he fasted for seven days, wept and prayed. This was King David, the great King David—the one who when the Bible describes Jesus, He is described as the SON OF DAVID. David was called a “man after God’s own heart.” Is there anyone who God would hear more? Is there anyone more loved? He prayed and he cried out for days. He wept and he wept.

And then the child died. David’s men were afraid to tell him that the child died. They whispered to each other. “Look how he weeps … look how he refuses to eat … look how his heart breaks. If we tell him the child died, it will kill him. He won’t be able to go on. We can’t tell him.”

David heard them whispering. David looked over to his men and said, “IS THE CHILD DEAD?.. .?” His men (almost afraid to say the words) said, “Yes, the child is dead…”

Then we read this in Bible..

II Samuel 12:19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
II Samuel 12:20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed [himself], and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
II Samuel 12:21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing [is] this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, [while it was] alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
II Samuel 12:22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell [whether] GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
II Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

II Samuel 12:24 And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.

Listen to what David said: “I SHALL GO TO HIM.”

Listen to me carefully. Today I speak for the living. After the child died, David comforted others. He comforted his wife.

Listen …. David, the great King David, could have gotten bitter at God. He was the great servant of the Lord, the great Psalmist of Israel. Why did God let this tragic thing happen to him? Not only did this tragedy happen but he had many other heartaches as well. He was persecuted and exiled for a while … his own men talked about killing him one time … one son was murdered … another became alienated from him and tried to kill him and usurp his throne. Tragedy after tragedy he suffered.

BUT we read these words in the Scripture.. DAVID COMFORTED BATHSHEBA …

Please listen carefully to what I am going to say. I am not going to give you a lot of speculation this morning about things. I want to give you some practical advice on dealing with heartache and tragedy. It probably is not going to be the typical funeral message because this is not a typical funeral. It is a sad tragedy.

David was very practical minded. He wept and prayed as long as the child was alive. Once the child died, David got up, washed himself, cleaned up, and then comforted others who were hurting.

One of two things that can happen today because of this tragedy. Either you can get bitter at God and dwell on the unknowns, or you can get on your feet, be a comfort to others, and bring something good from the ashes of tragedy. David said, “I weep for the living, not for the dead. I will go to him; he shall not return to me.”

I have used this following text more than any other at funerals. Listen to it carefully. Solomon—the wisest man that ever lived—said this:

Ecclesiastes 7:2 [It is] better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that [is] the end of all men; and the living will lay [it] to his heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow [is] better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
Ecclesiastes 7:4 The heart of the wise [is] in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools [is] in the house of mirth.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 [It is] better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

One of two things can happen because of this tragedy: either the sorrow of tragedy will make your heart better, or you will leave here a bitter, miserable person.

King David suffered the tragic lost of a child much younger than Christina. While his child was alive, he wept and fasted 7 days. When the child died, he got up washed himself ate something and then comforted his wife. He became a better person for it. He became a better father, and he became a better king. What allowed this? It was his faith in God. He said, “I WILL GO TO HIM SOMEDAY. I believe in an after life. I have faith in God.”

Now there are two possible reactions that a person can have to a tragic death of a loved one especially a young child.

TWO POSSIBLE REACTIONS TO TRAGIDY

EITHER A PERSON CAN GET BITTER OR YOU CAN BE A BETTER PERSON FOR IT… BE STRONG AND BE A HELP TO OTHERS.

I.    DAVID COULD HAVE CONTINUED HIS MOURNING AND BECOME BITTER

David could have let this tragedy ruin him. But he didn’t.
The reason he didn’t is because of his great faith in God.

THIS IS THE FAITH THAT DAVID HAD a great preacher once said, 

“God is too kind to do anything cruel;
Too wise to make a mistake;
Too deep to explain himself. “

He could have accused God of injustice.
He could have gotten mad.
He could have cursed God and died.
He could have continued to lay in the dust and weep.
He could have drowned his sorrows in drinking or drugs.
He could have turned away from his faith in prayer and God.

In doing so he would have been a burden to others.
He would have added heartache to the situation.
He would have not helped Bathsheba.
He never would have had Solomon.
He never would have been able to comfort anyone else.

Those who do not have faith in God have no good answer to give young people why they should avoid activities that will hurt them..

They cannot be a comfort to others.

Logical conclusion is that if there is no God, no afterlife, then we should just party it up because tomorrow we die.

EAT, DRINK, BE MERRY MENTALITY…

II.    INSTEAD OF THIS, DAVID LET THIS TRAGIC DEATH MAKE HIM A BETTER PERSON

Ecclesiastes 7:2 [It is] better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that [is] the end of all men; and the living will lay [it] to his heart.

David said I will go to him, and when I do, I will have to give an account for how I lived my life here on earth. So he became a better person because of the tragedy and loss of his son.

David let the death of his son draw him closer to God–not farther from Him.
After the death of his son David arose went into the house of the Lord and worshipped the Lord—then went in and strengthened himself and others.

Great men/women become better people through tragedy. They strengthen themselves and others.

David was a great man .. he fasted and prayed 7 days while his son was alive. This is all he could do to try and save his child. But when God took him, David got back on his feet and comforted his wife. To comfort others, you have to have the strength to do so; he strengthened himself to encourage others.

III.    DAVID WENT ON AND COMFORTED BATHSHEBA AND HAD ANOTHER SON. THAT SON’S NAME WAS SOLOMON.

Solomon means peace.
The opposite of peace is war.

War and death go hand in hand. The reason there is death on this planet is because there is a war that is raging. We all want peace, but often peace does not come without those who sacrifice and become tragic victims of war.

The reason David did not get bitter at God was because he knew what it was to be a soldier. He knew what it was to be a man of war. There are physical wars, but there are also spiritual wars. In times of war there is death all around you, and those who are victorious are the ones who get back in the fight and fight the enemy. There are two sides to every war. And so it is in the spiritual war: There is God and there is Satan.

Now I could make pretend this morning and tell you sweet things that are nothing but lies, or I could tell you the truth. The truth will never be popular. But God did not call me to be a politician. He called me to be a preacher. A preacher is supposed to tell the truth even if it is not popular. We have become accustomed to letting our leaders lie to us, and we even reward them by voting for the ones who look the best when they lie. God forbid if they stutter when they tell the truth. As long as they look good when they lie, we will vote for them. If they tell the truth and don’t talk well or don’t look like a Hollywood star, we don’t like them.

The truth about this battle and war is wrapped up in one verse in the Bible:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin [is] death;

The author of all sin is Satan. Therefore Satan is the author of all death, not God.

Jesus said in Mark 12:27 (God) ..is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living:
Jesus also said In John 11:25 I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

The biggest mistakes we make as humans is following Satan’s lies, and it brings death all the sooner. This is especially true of young people. They think they are invincible.

Another big mistake we make is being duped into thinking we can sin and follow the devil’s pack of lies, and nothing bad is going to happen. Then when something bad happens, we get mad at God.

Now here is the bad news: we all have sinned, and therefore we all will someday face death. So when people do sin, why are we surprised that often it brings death quicker?

IV.      DAVID HOWEVER (AFTER HIS SON DIED) HAD ANOTHER SON NAMED SOLOMON, AND SOLOMON BROUGHT PEACE TO HIS NATION.

David was a man of war…

David also made some bad mistakes in his life and did some gross sins. One sin was that he killed a man, stole his wife, and covered all this up (he thought). But there was One person who knew it all, and that was God. God knows what we have done, what we think, and all our secret sins.

Now when we sin, the devil gets license to kill us and others. In fact, most of the time when we sin, he is right there egging us on to do it, so most times he knows about it too.

If you are on the battlefield in time of war and you make a mistake, it could cost you your life. Well in this spiritual battle, the mistakes we make are called sin. When we sin, we become a target for Satan. Satan then gets license to afflict us and do us harm and ultimately kill us.

People get mad at God when this happens, but they never get mad at the devil. Can’t understand that. Get mad at the real enemy.

In the Book of Job in the Bible, Job lost all his children. They were tragically killed in a tornado. This wind just destroyed a house they were in, and they all died. Job lost his health; he was afflicted with a terrible disease. Job got a little upset at God. Job said, “What did I do to deserve this?” Job outwardly was as good a man as you could ever know. Yet he suffered all this. But behind the scenes there was a spiritual war taking place, and devil said to God, “if you let me afflict Job, I guarantee you he will curse you to your face.” So Job lost all his children, all his wealth, all his health. NO GREATER AFFLICTION COULD ANY OF US SUFFER. It is a tragedy the family of Christina has suffered this week. But imagine losing your business, all your children, your health, everything. And then even Job’s friends turned on him and said, “All this happened to you because you have committed this sin or that sin…” when in fact none of what they accused him of was true. But God had to reveal that all of it happened because there was a secret enemy working in the background. That enemy was Satan. Every war is fought for something, and usually that something is territory or jurisdiction or rulership. In the spiritual battle, the territory being fought over is your heart. Satan wants your heart so he can destroy you, and God wants your heart so he can save you.

Who will win?

V.    THE EVIDENCE THAT GOD HAD DAVID’S HEART WAS THAT WHEN FACED WITH GREAT HEARTACHE AND TRAGEDY, HE DID NOT LOSE HIS FAITH IN GOD.

HE GOT BACK UP ON HIS FEET AND COMFORTED BATHSHEBA AND THEN SOLOMON WAS BORN.

Solomon is a picture of Jesus. David’s first son was a by-product of sin when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. The Bible says Jesus became sin for us and died. Every sin we ever committed Jesus bore on the cross for us. The wages of sin is death, and so Jesus (Who never committed sin Himself) bore the penalty of our sin. Really, what sin did David’s first child commit to be worthy of death? David’s first son with Bathsheba bore the penalty of his sin, but after his death David and Bathsheba had another son: that son was Solomon, a man of peace, not war. Three days after Jesus died, He arose from the grave. David really should have died—not the little child. This is called substitution. The child died instead of David. And this Christmas we celebrate the story of the birth of a child who was born to die as our substitute.

Jesus therefore has dis-armed our greatest enemy (Satan) if his greatest weapon is death. Here is the verse:

Hebrews 2:14 … through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

NOW THE BATTLE IS FOR YOUR HEART..

Ecclesiastes 7:2 [It is] better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that [is] the end of all men; and the living will lay [it] to his heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow [is] better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
Ecclesiastes 7:4 The heart of the wise [is] in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools [is] in the house of mirth.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 [It is] better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

God wants your heart. Through sadness your heart is made better …
No pain,no gain.

Satan wants your heart. Satan gets you to laugh your way to the grave.
Sin is fun for a season.

If God gets your heart, you will be the better for it. You will go on and be a help and comfort to others.

If Satan gets your heart, you will stay in the dust and be a burden to all around you. You will be bitter and go down to the grave mad at God. Which will it be?

Today a good thing could come out of the tragic loss of Christina’s premature death. Your heart can be made better.

CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THIS

I am thinking of a couple who came to our church a few years back and tragically lost their son and a friend when they were swimming late at night. What heartache it was, and not only did they suffer this loss, but they had many legal problems because of it. They suffered financial heartache. They suffered great attacks from others. Yet in the midst of all these trials, instead of getting bitter at God, they let it draw them close to God.

They have strengthened others because of their heartache. When I announced that we needed help for the food preparations, they came here to be a comfort to others. They are even here helping out with food arrangements. They are here strengthening others. Their hearts were made better through a tragedy. They no longer do drugs, they no longer drink, they are helping raise their grandchildren for the Lord. They are here every Sunday worshipping God. They did as David did: they got back on their feet and have become better people because of the tragedy. Do they understand everything and are all the whys answered? NO! But they have faith in God.

Now I can tell many other stories about people whose hearts were not made better, but ended in defeat and bitterness. I won’t share their stories because it would just add more sadness to an already sad occasion.

If you give your heart to Jesus Christ …if you trust Him in faith, your life will be better for it and something good will be resurrected from a tragedy. Just as Jesus died and was buried, it seemed like a defeat and tragedy.. Yet three days later He was resurrected.

Just like David’s first child with Bathsheba died, but another child was born who went on to do great things—greater things than even David did. His name was Solomon. So it is that something good can come of tragedy if you have faith in God That something good is that your heart can be made better. Give your heart to God. Trust Him in faith. Receive Jesus into your heart and life, and you will be a stronger, better person for it.

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