Ask RC: What Now?

During my Denise’s battle we were all needy enough that we asked for and welcomed prayers for all of us. The grave issue, the underlying problem, was of course her illness. I too prayed for strength for me, for peace for the children. I prayed that God would use the beauty of Denise’s character to draw in the elect. Most of all, however, I prayed that Denise would be made well, that the cancer would be beaten, that she would be blessed with health, comfort and joy. It is rare indeed when we can see such specific prayers answered so clearly and powerfully.

For nine months I have awakened each morning knowing my wife was weak, fragile, fearful, weary and in pain. She was in danger of sinking deeper into illness. I knew it likely that when I would visit her she would at some point cry in sorrow, and that I couldn’t fix it. I prayed against the weakness, the fear and fragility, the weariness and the pain. I prayed against the tears and the sorrow. And now my prayers have been heard. What we wanted for her she has received, and more. We, His children, all together asked for bread for her. He didn’t give her a stone. He didn’t give her bread. He gave her Jesus. She who awoke pity in the hearts of thousands now has awakened with Him, with more health, more comfort, more joy than all of us combined. Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man all that she has already been blessed with (I Corinthians 2:9).

What though of the rest of us, those left behind? We had prayed for strength, for perseverance, for peace. These prayers He has likewise heard. We are, by His grace, strong enough that we are still here, that we have persevered. And we are at peace in our confidence that He will continue to so bless. We have work to do. I have children to raise, and they have the fruit of the Spirit to cultivate. I have lectures to prepare, sermons to preach, articles and chapters to write, and the fruit of the Spirit to cultivate. But there’s one more thing we have to do, me and my children, my extended family and friends. We need to mourn. A commitment to God’s goodness in calling Denise home, a commitment to God’s goodness in taking her from us, does not put mourning out of bounds. Jesus Himself wept just moments before He knew He would call Lazarus out of that tomb. I am not in the least ashamed of my tears. We mourn, but not as those who are without hope (I Thessalonians 4:13).

We do not fail in our work because we are mourning. We do not fail in our mourning as we work. We beautify each with the other. We will do both in accordance with our convictions. We mourn and we work with hope, knowing that all that we do for the kingdom will withstand that great conflagration of wood, hay and stubble.

Many of you, out of tender hearts, no doubt are concerned about practical matters, about logistics. Raising eight children is a jaw-dropping sized job for two healthy parents. Add in homeschooling and the challenge becomes more daunting. And now we go forward without my wife. What is the plan? The plan is to continue to honor both God’s Word and Denise’s legacy. We will continue to speak of Jesus and His kingdom when the children lie down and when they rise up. We will continue to homeschool the children. We will seek out more help around the house. I will seek to remove a few things from my plate, without sweeping its contents in the disposal. We will work hard and efficiently, still guided by the hand written lists and instructions Denise so loved to put together. I don’t, now that she is gone, need to build the transcontinental railroad. I just have to keep the train on the track my wife has so lovingly built.

Prayers for strength, wisdom and perseverance, are of course not just welcomed but coveted. But do not pray as those who are without hope- that’s just worrying on your knees. Instead pray with confidence to our loving Father. I know how powerfully He is not just able, not just willing, but how eager He is to bless, because I’ve seen what He has done for my wife. What now? Give thanks.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10103922738438801967 NewKidontheBlogg

    Thanks for this awesome post.

    Wonderful that our LORD enables you to mourn, reprioritize and see His blessing for Denise.

    Every Monday in 2012 I am praying for you, and yours, RC.

    Cordially,
    Carol Noren Johnson

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03961274494762725982 Jessica

    Bless you, brother Sproul. What a wonderful post. I will be continuing to pray for you and your family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05612353218248488383 Beth

    He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it! I see the work of the Holy Spirit woven throughout your post, RC. Praise God for his faithfulness and your humble,obedient response as his servant!

  • Suzan

    Just remember to hug the children often…you will benefit from their hugs, also..

    I appreciate your openness and am encouraged by your words. I need to remember your vision of how your prayers are being answered. You helped me to see that blessing is sometimes not in the form that we might have expected.

    Remembering you in Washington State,

    Suzan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00312094382712134522 david meyer

    RC I just found out about Denise and I was so sad. I have really been blessed by your ministry for years, mostly basement tapes and your attempts at a more simple "chicken wrangling" distributist life ala Chesterton. And although, like Chesterton, I am a Catholic now (I am the guy you had Keith M. contact)and do not travel in the same Reformed circles anymore, please know that I will be praying and offering sacrifices for your family brother.

    Eternal rest grant unto her Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

    Peace to you also RC, you zeal for Christ's kingdom has always been an inspiration to me. Dont ever loose your fire.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13976580613129096869 R.C.

    David,
    Though I am grateful for the care and concern behind your prayers, I would, of course, discourage you from talking to dead people, for my sake or any other. That is one thing, the prohibition from doing so, that I do find in the Bible. I will not here, nor in the 5 Things post engage you in internet debate. I will, however, pray for the grace of God in your life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00312094382712134522 david meyer

    RC,
    Just to clarify, I never said I was planning on "talking to dead people". I just said I would pray. Why turn a comment that was meant to console and to be encouraging into unprovoked jab?

    But if I did ask for the prayers of my wife or a friend or a saint in heaven, I wouldn't be talking to dead people, but very much alive people whos prayers God listens to.

    This has been the faith of the Church from the beginning. As a small proof of this, see the images and writing in the catacombs asking for saintly intercession that date very early. This is alluded to in Revelation with the saints offering our prayers in heaven.

    Thanks for your prayers for me.

    May His will be done,

    David M.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13976580613129096869 R.C.

    My apologies David. You are right, that you said no such thing. It was wrong of me to jump to that conclusion. I should have stuck with my thanks. Please forgive me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00312094382712134522 david meyer

    I forgive you RC. And that means alot to me that you are such a humble man to ask. Exactly the man that I know you are. Maxima mea culpa from me too for needing to defend myself so vigorously.

    Gee its almost like we are sinners in need of a Saviour or something! Go figure! ;-)

    Blessings to you and your family RC.