But When Life Tumbles In, What Then?

In a discussion on a recent Wednesday night, I referred to a sermon that has lived deeply in my heart: A. J. Gossip’s But When Life Tumbles In, What Then?  Arthur John Gossip (1873-1954) lived in Scotland his entire life. He served churches as pastor, ministered to the Scottish Highlander soldiers as chaplain during World War 1, and later became professor of  Theology and Ethics at Trinity College of Glasgow University.  After one bitter battle during the war, Gossip held the funeral for 100 of his Scottish soldiers. At age 54, while pastor of a church in Aberdeen, his wife suddenly died. The Sunday following her funeral, in his grief, which still included so much pain from his war experiences, he stood in the pulpit to tell of his hope in the darkest times of his life. Based on Jeremiah 12:5, he proclaimed in part:

I do not understand this life of ours. But still less can I comprehend how people in trouble and loss and bereavement can fling away peevishly from the Christian faith. In God’s name, fling to what? Have we not lost enough without losing that too? If Christ is right—if, as he says, there are somehow, hidden away from our eyes as yet, still there, wisdom and planning and kindness and love in these dark dispensations—then we can see them through.…If Christ was right, and immortality and dear hopes of which He speaks do really lie a little way ahead, we can manage to make our way to them. But if it is not so, if it is all over, if there is nothing more, how dark the darkness grows!  You people in the sunshine may believe the faith, but we in the shadow must believe it. We have nothing else.

Further in the sermon after quoting Paul:  True, I can tell him where death’s sting lies. Ah! It is the constant missing of what always used to be here; the bitter grudging every second of the dear body to the senseless earth, the terrible insecurity, for one is never safe—anything, nothing, and the old overwhelming pain comes rushing back….To us it will be long and lonesome: but they won’t even have looked around them before we burst in….I don’t think you need be afraid of life. Our hearts are very frail; and there are places where the road is very steep and very lonely. But we have a wonderful God….

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Heaven is at hand.  And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

Share this webpage: Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedin