And Yet Still Sovereign

According to her Facebook profile, at 4:21pm Friday afternoon, "Jill Jarvis Attebery just put Bryce down for a nap!" Bryce is her not-quite-three-month-old son.

Less than 48 hours later, Jill was fatally injured in an automobile accident and ushered into Heaven's glories to meet her Savior.

Jill is the wife of my friend Scott, who pastors Wyatt Baptist Church in Eldorado. This couple has been serving the Lord faithfully for several years and has made no small impact on the Kingdom. They have ministered & prayed for many and now Scott needs our prayers. Baby Bryce needs our prayers.

We can grieve with hope, knowing that Jill now resides in Heaven, but we still grieve. I really didn't know Jill very well, but I know Scott and I love Scott and I know that Scott loves Jill. I hurt for my brother. I can't begin to imagine what he's going through.

I do, however, know what Scott believes. He believes in a sovereign God. He expressed these beliefs in an article he wrote 2 years ago when his church family suffered yet another sudden death. Lauren Hymer was also killed in an auto accident, she is the teenage daughter of Donny & Lori Hymer. Donny is the worship pastor at Wyatt Baptist Church.

I think it is appropriate to re-post this message from Scott written to his flock after Lauren's death, it will help us to understand things better in midst of Jill's death.

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."

I talked to another staff member of Wyatt this evening and asked him how their Lord's Day services went this morning. He said it was amazing - as he walked around the church building, people were gathered in groups talking... about Jill? I'm sure. But more importantly, about the sovereignty and glory of God.

You can read periodic updates and details of Jill's last hours here.


Jenny said...

It all seems so overwhelming and then I'm reminded just how Sovereign God is.

Kim said...

I will be praying for this family. Thanks for teaching in Todd's absence and for sharing about these dear friends of yours. Your lesson was a great teaching time. I was convicted.

Like you said, we grieve with hope. That is key! I have held to that truth a lot lately.

Anonymous said...

This was on our prayer warrior webpage at FBC Sheridan. It just broke our hearts. Thank you for this post.

Lizzy said...

Thank you for posting this and for letting us know about Scott and Jill. Just went to the Baird blog and read through all the posts since the time of the accident; my tears and prayers are with Scott and all of you who know them.