Once There Were Three
Mack W. Hampton
“Lord, how could You have let this happen to me?”
Have you ever said that when adversity or tragedy confronted you? The answers are often too few to satisfy most of us. Even Job did not receive the reason for his sorrows. But God does offer hope, a sure foundation for trust when it is based on God’s Word. At least that’s how Mack Hampton came to terms with the actions of a sovereign God.
Once There Were Three is a poignant and honest first-person account of one man’s struggle with the anguish of losing a loved one. Author Hampton’s true story of his daughter’s death and its aftermath is “an attempt to describe such a loss and discuss that which only can fill the void-faith in Almighty God.”
Hampton shares, through reflections interspersed with poetry and letters, some of his most agonizing thoughts as he struggled to see God’s perspective on the events. He gives some relevant suggestions for dealing with the trauma of death. Four things from Matthew 6:33 are especially noteworthy:
1. Return to God’s Word.
2. Return to God in prayer.
3. Major on majors. (First things first).
4. Return to God in His ways.
I had attended church all of my life, I had loved God all of my life, and I had been a Christian for nearly all of my life. But I had lost my perspective. I could not see that my closer walk with Him had to be many times closer than what I was experiencing, and that I had to step back from the abyss in order to witness the continuance of my life in the steps of the Saviour. Somewhere, sometime, in those unspeakable days I had lost the way—the tracks of God that would lead me all the way. Again, those who have traveled this way—the way of pain and sorrow—would be the first to agree on the difficulty of "keeping on keeping on."
Returning to this simple verse of Scripture, Matthew 6:33, allow me to suggest the following:
1. Return to God's Word. If the crisis you have suffered or if the tragedy you have experienced occurred at a time when God's Word was not a part of your daily life or reading, return, return, return! One cannot overemphasize the importance of allowing God to speak through His blessed Word. Return to God by returning to His Word.
2. Return to God in prayer. If you have never asked Christ to come into your life and save you for His sake, do this first; and then commence, even as a child would learn to pray. If you have been a Christian for years but have only prayed spasmodically to Him, prayer can resolve all of life's problems; return to that quiet place and lay all at His blessed feet. You can do this right now.
3. Major on majors. Place the really important things first in your life—not those things that do not count for Him, that do not glorify Him, and that do not continue His glorious cause. During this time of loss, when all the world appears to be against you, let those things go that only hinder and obstruct your progress in His direction. Let your tortured mind be occupied with only those possibilities that must enhance the healing process.
4. Return to God in His ways. This simply means to reread the blessed Sermon on the Mount and ask God to help you be more Christlike in your daily walk with Him. One cannot read the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew without realizing that Christ's ways must come first in every life, that He must have the preeminence, that we must love Him more than all others, and that we must attempt to live according to the "Law" that He came to fulfill and to make a part of each life, in order that we might have that life abundantly.
When God asks us to do His will day after day after day, there is always a promise, stated or implied. In Matthew 6:33 it is, "And all these things shall be added unto you." Does this mean health? It could. Does this mean material possessions? It might. Does this mean more loving and sympathetic friends? It probably will.
Does it mean a longer life and a fuller realization of God's love? I'm sure it could. However, to me it means that God will enter every home, every building, every automobile, every place you go. It means He will be closer than any earthly father or brother and be truer than any friend. It means, somehow, in only the words the apostle Paul would use so effectively, "For to me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).
In the final analysis, it means the Creator of this universe, the Maker of all men, the Saviour of this world, the King of kings, and Lord of lords will dwell in your life and heart. It means victory over sorrow, over heartache, over grief, and victory over any and all problems that man has or will ever face. In the simplest terms, it means in His way, in His wisdom, in His love, and in His victory, He will provide for your every need. Amen, and amen!
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