The words of the Aaronic blessing came home with great poignancy and power as I thought how in a few hours Mabel would see and feel the light of God’s face shining upon her in glory, experiencing the blessing of God perfectly.
I was due to write my monthly Gentle Reformation article last month on 18 June. I didn’t manage it however, because I was preparing for the funeral of Mabel Cordelia Clarke which took place on 19 June. I wrote about Mabel here two months ago, on 21 May, just a few days after she was born prematurely at just under 26 weeks. Since that post she suffered multiple setbacks, including two haemorrhages in her brain. It became very clear by 14 June that there was no possible way that she could survive. On 15 June we held a very simple service of baptism in her NICU room, not because her parents or I believed that Mabel’s salvation depended on her being baptised but because she was a covenant child of our congregation and we wanted to recognise her status as such. It was, as you may imagine, an incredibly moving experience. The words of the Aaronic blessing came home with great poignancy and power as I thought how in a few hours Mabel would see and feel the light of God’s face shining upon her in glory, experiencing the blessing of God perfectly.
On Saturday we held a thanksgiving service. I began with some of the questions that we all must have asked in recent days. ‘Mabel had been perfectly healthy in her mother’s womb—why did God allow her to be born so prematurely?’ ‘Why did God allow her to suffer those haemorrhages?’ ‘Why did God let her brain be so severely damaged?’ ‘Why did God allow her to die?’ To all these questions, and so many others, I said we don’t know the answers. It doesn’t mean there are no answers—just that we don’t have access to them. Deuteronomy 29.29: The secret things belong to the Lord our God… One day we might hear the answers. Perhaps God has told Mabel already and she now knows. But we don’t. We need the humility of the psalmist in Psalm 131.1: O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
Instead we need to focus on what we do know. For the whole of Dt 29.29 says this: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. There are many things that God has revealed that are not secret, and we are meant to think about these things—to understand them, believe them and live by them as we cling to them daily. Here are just a few of those things that I mentioned that day…
1. God is sovereign over life and death and everything in between.
Ps 31.15: My times are in your hand…The good times and the bad times, the happy times and the sad times; the times of grief, fear, disappointment, loneliness, depression and doubt just as much as the times of joy, success and encouragement. David is thinking here especially about difficult times—the surrounding verses speak of ‘affliction and distress of soul’. And yet David believes these times of anguish are in the Lord’s hand, under his control—not the Devil’s.