This past June, on Father's Day weekend, Lauren Hymer, the 21 year old daughter of Donny & Lori Hymer was killed in an automobile accident. Donny has been the Music Pastor of Wyatt Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas since 1992. My dear friend, Scott Attebery, is the pastor of Wyatt Baptist Church. In the July edition of "The Witness Newsletter" (Wyatt's monthly publication), Pastor Scott attempted the difficult task of addressing the sovereignty of God and the death of Lauren Hymer in a short, one page article.
I think he did quite well.
The reformers of the 16th century birthed the phrase, "Soli Deo Gloria," which means "for the glory of God alone!" Since that time, this monumental statement has been the cry of all God-centered theology. It is for this very reason that the writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith wrote that the chief end of man is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
As Paul says in I Corinthians 10:31, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I Peter 4:11 says, "Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever."
Because our church places such a great emphasis on the glory of God in all things, I couldn’t help but ask myself two questions in light of Lauren Hymer’s death: 1) How will this glorify God? 2) If God does all things for His glory, how will this fact comfort the Hymers?
The answer to the first question is both plentiful and difficult. There are numerous ways that we have already witnessed God’s glory in this time of loss. When members of Wyatt poured out their love on Donny, Lori, and Wesley, through visits, cards, memorials, yard work, food, house cleaning, funeral preparations, hugs, and words of encouragement, God’s glory was revealed. When we reflect on the sanctifying work of Christ in Lauren’s life, we praise God. When we see the strength displayed in the Hymers, we marvel at God’s grace. Of course, we will never know all of the ways God uses Lauren’s death for His own purposes. Further, it is both impossible and foolish to speculate all of the specific reasons for such an event to occur.
The difficulty in answering this first question lies in the fact that every ounce of glory God receives is echoed by the pain experienced by the Hymers. In other words, it seems peculiar to focus on God’s glory in an event when the same event produces grief and sorrow.
This leads us to the more difficult question, "If God does all things for His glory, how will this fact comfort the Hymers?" At first glance, it seems cold that in their time of grief God would have the audacity to think about His glory. However, it is in this fact alone that we may find the greatest comfort. Because God is glorified in Lauren’s death, we can be confident that she did not pass away in vain (Psalm 116:15). Here we see the love of God: that in glorifying Himself, he points all who mourn to their only source of hope: Himself.
Although we don’t pretend to understand God’s mysterious purposes, we are comforted in the fact that there is a purpose. Without a sovereign God who is concerned with His glory, all things are meaningless -and that would be a tragedy. Instead, even through the pain and sorrow, we have every reason to proclaim, "Soli Deo Gloria."
Scott, Adam Thomas (Pastor to Family Ministries) and Donny are doing a great work for the Lord in El Dorado. Be sure to visit their website for some valuable articles, links, and sermon audio. And pray that God would indeed be glorified in the death of Lauren Hymer.