Tag Archives: Bob Deffinbaugh

Monday Morning Moment – Lessons on Life From a Grieving Husband

Photo Credit: National Institute on Aging

Time can be so fluid…like water in our hands. Hard to hold onto. This is evidenced often in this blog as Monday Morning Moments are posted on Tuesdays at times, and Friday Faves don’t make it up until Saturday or Sunday…or not until the next week.

Life happens…and is punctuated by significant and not-so events. One full-stop experience is the death of a loved one. It stops us in our tracks. We are shocked by it even when we see it coming. Death turns our feet into concrete and yet at the same time moves us to action. Necessary action that drags us forward in dealing with the loss of that one so important to us. Someone has to make arrangements; someone has to make decisions.

When that someone is you, a grand narrative is born in the darkness of loss. It is a gift from God in the wake of bereavement.

We who are bystanders, or close watchers, in the company of one grieving can learn so much about life…and the attentiveness of God over that one in distress.

In Genesis, an account is given, centuries ago, of the death of Sarah, the beloved wife of Abraham. This Abraham is considered the founding father of three major world religions today. In the Scripture he was considered a friend of God (James 2:23), and his faith was counted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

The lessons on life that we learn from this husband grieving the loss of his wife include the following:

  • Death of a loved one reorients us to the transient nature of life. Even though Abraham and Sarah had been married for 90-100 years, the day would come that death would separate them. Their lives had taken them far from their home of Ur, in Mesopotamia. For many years, they lived in Canaan, always in tents. Always “foreigners and outsiders” (Genesis 23:4). As Abraham wept over the loss of his wife, he realized he had no place to bury her. Should he take her back home or make some provision for burying her where they lived? No matter how long we live, how long we may be married, or how wealthy we are…in this life, in many ways, we are simply sojourners…passing through.
  • The loss of someone we love moves us to put down a stake. In Abraham’s situation, this was a literal “planting a stake”. He negotiated with the men of Hebron to purchase a burial cave (and the land surrounding it) to lay his Sarah to rest. This was huge for him because, although he was wealthy, he had not bought any land, waiting on God. God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants. Now, because of the necessity of a burial tomb, Abraham would stake claim to God’s promise by exercising his faith that Canaan would be his family home for all time. The cave for Sarah would also be where he and others in his family would be buried as well. In this land, Canaan. For many of us, the reality of losing a loved one brings into sharp clarity what all is lost with them. My mom was an incredibly faithful prayer warrior for her family and friends. She also lived a life of self-less service to others. It was joy for her that God would allow her such a life of purpose. When she died, I realized that putting down a stake, in her passing, would be to enter into the spiritual work she left behind. Taking hold of the baton my mom passed to us. Praying for and serving others. I’m not where she was in that…but growing.
  • Even in our pain, we can trust God to give us wisdom and care in dealing with those around us. When we are grieving, life doesn’t feel normal. It’s as if we operate on slow-motion. Our thoughts are muddled. People are saying things to us but we can’t seem to hear correctly. In the depth of his grief, in order to secure a burial place for Sarah, Abraham had to deal with people not like him in a culture not his own. Yet, he negotiated with sensitivity and clarity. In fact, the way he did his business that day is a lesson for any of us in working with others. He was gracious and generous. The sale of that land to Abraham went very well for the seller, and the ownership of it should never come into question in the future. When we are faced with responding to others, in the midst of our grief, we can take his example. God will lead us to be our best selves, even in the hardest of situations…if we keep our eyes on Him and we treat those in front of us in good faith. When we lose someone, people usually mean well…even when motives are suspect, we can respond graciously. If, like the owner of the property Abraham would buy, the person seems focused on their own gain, we can act with wisdom and expedience. Abraham needed a burial place that would forever be considered his property. He did what needed to be done…and God gave grace.
  • Lastly, whatever the loss, we can look to the future in hope and confidence. Abraham had a great promise from God for the future. He had only begun to see the promise unfold, but he trusted God for the rest (see Hebrews 11:13-16 below). When we lose someone the idea of never seeing them again would be horrific. In fact, I don’t see how people, who believe that this life is all we have, can survive the death of a loved one. Everything in this life gives evidence that we are made for eternity. I rejoice in the knowledge that this life is not our forever home. We have another homeland…a better place. God has it ready for His children – for that loved one we are mourning now and for us on another glorious day.

“These all died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”Hebrews 11:13-16

Made of the Stuff of Eternity – A. W. Tozer

Our Hope in Grief – Ross Rhoads

Dealing with Death – Bob Deffinbaugh

Death of Sarah and Abraham – Ralph F. Wilson

Mourning the Death of a Spouse – National Institute on Aging

An Uncle Like Abraham – Do You Have One? Would You Be One?

Blog - Uncle Bob - Abraham (2)Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most HighWho has delivered your enemies into your hand.”Genesis 14:11-16, 19-20

Abram (Abraham), the father of many nations, had a nephew, Lot. This nephew didn’t make wise choices. We are probably familiar with the story of God’s rescue of Lot prior to His destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18, 19). The story of Abraham’s rescue of his nephew may not be as familiar, but it gives testament to a good uncle, one we would all love to have.

At church last week, the question was posed, “What would it be like to have an uncle like Abraham?” I’ve been thinking about that question all week. On my side of the family, no uncle came to mind (extended family separated by distance, disposition, or divorce). I do have great brothers, dad, and dad-in-law…but uncles? Not like that.

Dave has an uncle who came to mind at the posing of the question. Uncle Bob. He is a man of great faith and love. He has a deeply generous heart toward others, and never seems to meet a stranger. He has always been kind and encouraging to Dave, all his life. Last year, he became very ill, and we went to see him, just to be near him for a few hours. We live states away and miss family times together. Thankfully, he’s doing much better and continues in his Abrahamic ways.Nancy & Bob Wink Jan. 2015 (2)

Our children have good uncles – some belonging to the family and some who have “adopted” them, during our life overseas. Our two who are married asked two of those “adopted uncles” to officiate at their weddings. Such was the character and love of those men.

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What is it to be a man like Abraham as uncle to his nephew, Lot? I see four distinctives in him related to his relationship with his nephew. These inspire us to be this kind of family – as Abraham to was to Lot – in the lives of those God has placed in our lives.

  • Abraham treated the younger Lot with respect and generosity. When Lot made a very self-serving choice in the division of land, Abraham did not object, entrusting himself to God. (Genesis 13)
  • Abraham responded without hesitation when Lot was in trouble. Lot chose to live in the city of Sodom, putting himself and his family in harm’s way. When a marauding band of foreign kings swept into Sodom, they captured the people and confiscated the goods of all the city’s dwellers. Word came to Abraham that Lot was taken, and he acted immediately. Whether Lot deserved saving or not didn’t seem to matter. Abraham’s response was that of “you don’t mess with my family”.
  • Abraham sought nothing in return for what he did for Lot. After his victory against the kings, Abraham returned Lot, and all the people and goods to Sodom. He refused any reward, acknowledging only the provision of God. Genesis 14:22-24
  • Abraham did not forget Lot but prayed for him in other times of trouble. There are times when a good uncle fights costly battles for their family, using their own personal resources. Other times, all he can do is fight in prayer. Yet, this may be the highest sacrifice he could make for Lot. When God Himself decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham interceded for Lot and his family. He prayed hard, this time entrusting Lot to a righteous God. Because of Abraham’s prayer, Lot was spared. Genesis 19

Are you an uncle like Abraham? Would you be one, with God’s help? It’s so easy to give up on the younger generation (and sometimes for the younger generation to give up on the older). God calls us to a different path. To be generous, and long-suffering with each other. To love, and fight for, and pray for our families – including those He’s made our family along the way.

How thankful we are for uncles like Abraham! What a grace from God they are! What the world would be like…if we took up those Abrahamic battles for our own nephews, nieces, sons, and daughters…and other family laid into our charge.

Do you have an uncle like Abraham? Either in your family or as if he were? Please use Comments to tell something about him/them. We will all be encouraged.Dave & TomDave & Sam

The Rescue of Lot (Genesis 14:1-24) – Fascinating Bible Study by Bob Deffinbaugh

Abram Rescues Lot and Meets Melchizedek

Extreme Love – Abraham Saves Lot – SlideShare

Abram Rescues Lot! – Children’s Chapel