A Grief Sanctified: How Reformed Theology Helps Deal with Death

The Gospel Coalition | 7/11/2018 | Staff
catcrazy24 (Posted by) Level 4
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Last month my wife, Paulette, died, aged just 65, after an eight-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease and many other related conditions. She lived longer than expected—she inherited powerful genes from her pioneer ancestors—but her death, though anticipated, was a deep shock nonetheless. Paulette had a powerful Christian faith: she attended and contributed to our church’s small group Bible study the day before she died, and she took part in evangelistic Bible studies in her care home right to the end. We know she is with the Lord whom she served so well in her all-too-few decades of life.

Paulette is in heaven, but I am her 63-year-old widower here on earth. With most people now living into their 80s and 90s, her passing comparatively young is a mystery.

People - Perspective—Paulette - Puritan - William - Perkins

I tell people that for those of my theological perspective—Paulette and I attended the Puritan William Perkins’s old church most happily for quarter of a century—the grief is absolutely as bad, but the perspective is different. A belief in God’s sovereignty doesn’t lessen the pain, even though it puts it in a radically different context. I may never know why God took Paulette comparatively early, or why he allowed so godly a woman to have a disease like Parkinson’s at all (she was the lady in Proverbs 31 personified!).

But I know that God knows.

Things - Puzzle - Paulette - Children - Own—I

Many things have been a puzzle to me. Paulette and I couldn’t have children of our own—I will never know the reason in my lifetime. But other things have become clear with perspective.

In 1982 I was examined for a doctorate in history at Cambridge University. My internal examiner was an academic of utmost probity; my external examiner (no longer alive) was a notorious plagiarist. He asked me to do a year’s extra work on an obscure part of my thesis before...
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