It's a phrase I hear my mum use quite frequently. It's a euphemism she uses when someone has died. I've never really paused to considered what those words actually mean. But yesterday (many thanks to Susie at 7mouths2feed for the link) I watched a short video about Shannon McFarlane Sproul - daughter of RC Sproul Jnr and granddaughter of RC Sproul - born with a profound disability and who passed away last week aged 15.
About three and half minutes into the 12 minute video (made prior to her death - I couldn't find the year it was made), Shannon's dad, through tears says, "The hardship for me is everyday knowing that it is extremely likely that Shannon will go on to her reward before we will." This is a source of real and deep human grief for this father. But in saying that she will go to her reward, he is not being euphemistic. Through the tears of his grief there is immense hope in his eyes. His daughter will (and last week did) go to her reward. She is free with her Father in heaven for all eternity. Free of her disability and free in His loving presence for ever.
Going to one's reward - it is the point, our goal, our hope and also our deep comfort when those we love go to their reward. It's a powerful and beautiful phrase.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write:
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour,
for their deeds will follow them.”
If you can spare the twelve minutes it will take, it will be time well spent to watch this very moving video clip. It is such a privilege to see a family living out in complete their faith and trust in a God who is sovereign over all of the details of their lives, even the difficult details.
RC Sproul starts by saying, "I like to explain it [specifically his response to the birth and life of his disabled granddaughter but generally in terms of how we ought to respond when trials and suffering come] like this. That anything that happens in this world God knows. And He knows before it happens. And he has the power to stop it. In so far as He has made that decision to let it happen, He has ordained it to be so."
Then his son, Shannon's father, says, "Now God says, 'Here's this challenge. Do you really believe that this is from my hand?' "
This is trusting in God's sovereignty in action. I have always always had an abiding trust in God's sovereignty but I haven't had my convictions tested to such a degree. I am thankful for the opportunity to watch this video and see others live out this conviction and I am humbled by their example.