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Evans Family Conversation about Grief, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2021 7:00 am

Evans Family Conversation about Grief, Part 1

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 9, 2021 7:00 am

The phrase, life is short doesn’t carry much meaning until we’re confronted with the loss of someone close to us. Dr. Tony Evans’ family has known more than their share of that kind of pain in the last couple of years. In this lesson, Tony and his adult children will talk about how to hold on to faith and hope when it feels like waves of grief are about to wash you away.

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The goodness of God is all around us.

Texas and president of the Urban Alternative. Sooner or later, we'll all be confronted with the powerful emotions of grief and loss, emotions that can become debilitating and bring us to a crisis of belief in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Dr. Evans and his immediate family are no strangers to those feelings, as they've traversed an unnerving path through the loss of multiple family members in the recent past. Today we'll visit a conversation recorded just one day after the sudden and tragic loss of a close and much-loved family member, Winter Pitts.

With Toni are his four adult children, Crystal Evans Hurst, Priscilla Shire, Anthony Evans, and Jonathan Evans. Let's listen as Priscilla sets the stage for the discussion. It's a interesting night for our family and for so many members of our church and wanted to just have a great conversation tonight with you, with our extended family, and let our dad and pastor sort of speak into this issue that has hit us personally, but we thought would be a great opportunity when we face unexpected loss, tragedy, difficulty in our lives, what that looks like, and how we reconcile that with the goodness of God, the kindness of God. So some of you may or may not be aware at this point that last night very suddenly, very tragically, we lost, well, one of me and Crystal's best friends and our cousin, my father's niece, her name is Winter Pitts, Winter and her husband and her four girls, very young family. And so anyway, she stopped breathing last night, we were all at the hospital till the wee hours of the morning just consoling each other.

We've been doing that all day today. We wanted to come to church tonight though because what a great opportunity to talk about our night last night in terms of my father and how he sort of has to take off pastor hat and put on dad uncle herding hat and what that looks like when you're him. But also then hear his perspective that will be again helpful for all of us when you are in a place of unexpected tragedy and loss and difficulty. So we hope that this conversation will be a blessing to you. Dad, we did want to start by just talking to you about last night, maybe giving everyone a little bit of frame of reference on how the evening unfolded and what it felt like for you because normally when you're at the hospital to consult someone, it is someone that is a part of your church but not necessarily your family, your people.

So talk to us about last night. Well it was about 7 30 that I got a call from Priscilla and she asked me had anyone called me and I said about what and she said Winter has stopped breathing and she was being rushed to the hospital. So I was kind of startled hearing that we had just been with her and her husband Jonathan Pitts and the four girls and so to hear that was a shocker.

And so I found out what hospital and I said okay I'll be right there. Then I picked up the phone and I called Jonathan Pitts not knowing whether he would answer or not. He did answer and it was hard to understand his all of his words because of the tears and I do remember his phrase it doesn't look good because she was not breathing and so I rushed out and went to the hospital and I walked and I walked into the room and when I walked into the room I knew it was over from the medical standpoint because Jonathan was hovered over his wife and saying she's gone, she's gone, she's gone and feeling that sadness, shock, mixture of both, heartache, seeing a young man weep over his young wife and then the worst part of it for me was him going to tell his girls who were at the hospital too and to hear the wailing that came from four girls that this was just so unbelievable. At the very same time something very encouraging in the midst of the heartache, tears, and pain Jonathan immediately went into where their mother was, that she was with the Lord, that she was with her Savior, and as everybody was crying and some of the girls saying no this can't be, this can't be, he began singing a hymn. He began singing a praise song and so we joined in with him as he sang to his girls and then it just unfolded from there. More family came, more people came as we talked about the reality of the night that we couldn't believe. So for me there was a ministerial and a personal that collided, wanting to encourage Jonathan, wanting to encourage the girls, wanting to encourage myself, but there was confusion with me. How could this happen to what appeared to be a healthy 38-year-old mother, especially in life especially in light of new plans that they had, new destinations that they were going, new vision that they were sharing?

How could this happen? And so it raises kind of the question that you raised, a good God and at the same time the tragedies of life. So that was kind of my my moments. And before we dive into sort of that theological conversation, I know a lot of members of our congregation, you know, we kind of see you on the platform and you're preaching and you're teaching to us and you have to always be, well you are, in a very strong fatherly position in obviously our family but to, you know, you're shepherding us and people see you that way all the time and I know a lot of people really want to know how are you because, excuse me, I'm sorry, how are you given the fact that a lot of people, you know, here at church realize that, you know, you lost your brother, our uncle, six months ago and now you've lost your other brother's daughter. So your church would like to know how are you? I guess I struggle between I struggle between wanting to minister to everybody when a crisis hits and probably letting that overshadow my feeling about the crisis because obviously there's some people hurting more than me, a husband and four girls, but I do hurt. I hurt. I hurt when people come into my office and I want to quit or give up but I know they're coming because they want some hope. They want some hope and so I hurt with them but I also got to be strong enough to try to give them hope. So I guess my answer to that is I don't know how I am fully because I have to, at least I think I have to, try to find a way to give hope in a hurting situation and that kind of gets in the way. I probably would have to back away from it a little bit to find out where I am, which happened with my brother when my brother died six months ago. There were times when I broke down but at the same time I had to, I'm the oldest son, I gotta make sure my father's okay, my sister's okay. So it's, I do allow that to overshadow that most of the time. And I'm curious about it because I mean she said the church and all that but the kids wonder how you feel because you just keep going.

Somehow you're able to just keep going. I guess because I do believe what I preach. I do believe she's in a better place. I do believe in the sovereignty of God. I do believe in the goodness of God. I do believe and because I believe, you know, I do. I do keep going.

Maybe some of its personality and some of its drive but at the same time there is a belief that's intact that I'm wrapped around because I don't know where I would be with all the situations in life if I didn't have an anchor. We'll be back with more from the Evans family on navigating the storms of grief and loss in just a moment. Stay with us.

Coming to theaters this November. We're at the Church of the Nativity here in Bethlehem where it is believed that the birth of Jesus Christ occurred. Travel with Dr. Tony Evans as he retraces the life and human journey of the greatest being to ever walk this earth. Well, we're here in Capernaum, a place where Jesus did most of His miracles and it is in this place that He demonstrated He truly is the Son of God. You'll travel the streets, fields, and synagogues that Jesus walked and visit the locations where some of the most powerful events recorded in the Bible took place. It is highly likely that much of what we read about Jesus' ministry in Galilee happened right here. Journey with Jesus in theaters November 15th, 16th, and 17th with Dr. Tony Evans.

Visit tonyevans.org for locations, showtimes, and to learn more. And those dates are just around the corner so be sure to visit tonyevans.org right away to reserve your seats for the limited engagement of Journey with Jesus. Well, before we get back to today's conversation, I want to tell you about a powerful new book that goes hand in hand with the messages we've been sharing the past few days. It's called Divine Disruption, Holding on to Faith When Life Breaks Your Heart. Before her passing, Lois Evans had urged her family to work together on a collaborative project. And this book, focusing on how they process their own grief and loss, is the product of her wish. In Divine Disruption, Dr. Evans and his four adult children candidly share honest questions they've asked, raw emotions they've felt, and solutions they've learned through the tumultuous experience of losing eight loved ones in less than two years' time. Through their shared experiences and individual viewpoints, you'll discover your own path to persevere in difficult times and ultimately to experience God's peace through it all. We'd like to send you your own copy of Divine Disruption as our thank-you gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on this station. Along with it, we'll send you CDs or access to digital downloads of all seven parts of our current Living with Loss series, including today's discussion. Again, both these resources are yours with our thanks when you make a donation online at tonyevans.org or call our resource center day or night at 1-800-800-3222.

That's 1-800-800-3222. And now let's return to the conversation and pick up where we left off. I do believe in the sovereignty of God. I do believe in the goodness of God. I do believe. And because I believe, I do. I do keep going. There is a belief that's intact that I'm wrapped around.

You know, Jon Jon asked you these, you know, and Crystal and Anthony and myself asked you some of the questions that'll be a little broader in terms of the theological implications of this and how we have that hope. But, you know, before the night is over, I want us to pray for you. For you. Because you are carrying a whole lot. You're carrying your own stuff. But you're carrying all our stuff, too. And we want you to know we're grateful. And we want you to know that the hope that you have and the reason why you keep going, that anchor, that last night as we, last night as we were around winter's body singing victory in Jesus and your grandkids were around singing that. I thought what a great legacy that because you have had that anchor that now you have grandchildren and great-grandchildren that in the face of sudden tragedy are able to say how great is our God. And we're grateful for that. But we do want to ask some questions that will help us wrap our minds around your thoughts on the goodness of God, on evil, on tragedy, on why things like this are allowed that don't make sense and those sorts of things.

Jon Jon. I guess I want to know, I mean because we, it's not just about us. I mean many of you have experienced the same thing. And you know with winter specifically and our situation, you know, leaving behind, you know, Jonathan Pitts and four little girls, how do then we continue to message of God is good because all they see is tragedy and what God has taken. And a lot of people either walk away from the faith or remain atheist because of the idea of us preaching a good God all the time.

You know an American experience is different. We stand up here and we preach all things work together for good for those who love God and are called to this purpose. But you got these kids over in different countries who were born with AIDS from the day they're born and they die that way. And we over here talking about how good God is. So explain the goodness of God as it relates to people's real experiences. Well, first of all, if you get rid of God, you still got your problem. So getting rid of God hadn't changed your scenario. There's still sickness and evil.

Okay. I think about Jesus's question to Peter. He said, when they had questions, will you leave me?

And Peter's answer was, well where we gonna go? You have the words of eternal life. So the first thing is that you haven't solved your problem by running from God. The second thing is, when you look, you know, there's a song that people would say, you know, when I compare my good days with my bad days, you know, the goodness of God is all around us. It only comes into question when bad things happen.

You take away the bad things. We were celebrating with Jonathan Pitts and his family, the goodness of God as a family. We were celebrating that.

And then this happens. So now the questions come. But what about all those other days when there were no questions, when we were laughing and celebrating? So you have to put the badness of a situation against the history of God's goodness.

So that's the second thing. The third thing is, what you kind of got into is, you know, why do we have this? Why do we have all of this pain? And how can a good God allow evil? That's the question of what we call in theology, theodicy, the goodness of God and the reality of evil. Well, God has given men choice. And with choice, the potential for evil exists, because you can choose against good. And if you choose against good, then the only opposite of that would be non-good or evil. So freedom allows evil to exist, but men make evil happen.

Freedom allows for it, because now you have a choice. But men actualize it. And when we actualize our evil, it affects other people.

When a murderer actualizes his evil, somebody else dies. But to me, that's why I need a sovereign God who can at least choose to intervene in the reality of evil in the world that I live in and we live in. If I'm just left to man, then I'm subject to anything anybody wants to do, anytime they want to do it. But if I at least have a sovereign God, that evil has to flow through his fingers before it gets to me, then I have the hope that God is in control, even with things that are out of control. But my biggest comfort is, where else am I supposed to go? Because if you take me away from that, I have no hope. I'm at the whim of everything else.

I have absolutely nothing, no control over. So I'd rather cast my lot with a God that I don't understand, than with men. I think this touches on a question that's a little further down on that sheet, but how can I then have boldness in my faith, in my faith, in my faith, in my faith? How can I then have boldness in my faith? If history, circumstances, the evil that's in the world, the evil that comes through God's finger, if circumstances have been hard, how can I then have bold faith, particularly when you've prayed for God to help and he doesn't? Because you can know that to be true, and you can even rehearse that, but how do you then walk with boldness?

If I have one of my kids come and I tell them to sit in a chair, and if when they go to sit, I pull the chair out from under them, the next time I tell them to sit in the chair, they're going to hesitate. So I know God is not pulling out the chair, but the experience is a teacher too. So how can I approach my faith with boldness when experience says, well, the last time I hoped God would help and he didn't, or the last time I prayed for God to help and he didn't?

How do you then conjure up a bold, confident faith even in your head if you got it? How do you walk that out when experience it says, oh, well, because I know I hear it all the time, people will say, well, I just don't think he hears me. He doesn't listen. He doesn't answer my request.

How would you answer that? A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine died. He was on the table and he was pronounced dead. As the family was sorrowing, he twitched. And to make a long story short, he's now walking around after having been pronounced dead. So you can imagine the celebration because that was like a Lazarus moment.

When I walked in Winter's Room on last night and Jonathan had gone, I sat down in the chair and I said, do it again, Lord, do it again. He didn't. But the reason I could ask him that is because of what happened here. So having a history with God, doing things in your yesterday, when you face your today or tomorrow, whether or not he does it or not, at least gives you confidence that the possibility exists. And if the possibility exists, then I have to trust in the fact that whether he does it or not, that he knows what he's doing, because I know what he can do. I know what he has done. So I know he might do it here.

He might not. I got to leave that in his sovereign hand. So what we've got to remind ourselves of are the times when he has come through, so that we can walk in faith when he does not come through, because we know he can. We know he's good. We know he loves us, but we also know he's sovereign. And you got to put all those together at the same time.

And I will agree. The Bible is full of why questions, you know. The whole book of Job is why do the righteous suffer? Why do the righteous suffer? Why do the righteous suffer? You know, how do I make sense of this? So here's the statement I would give to the girls when I sit down and talk with them and to Jonathan.

I can't answer. Many people want to know why, why, why, why. I can't answer all that because God leaves Deuteronomy 29. 29 says he has secret things that he does not answer why to, okay? That's his prerogative.

But I will tell them this. Your mother loved the Lord. The Lord loved your mother.

So in some unknown way, he determined it was her time. I don't like it. You don't like it.

Let this cup pass from me. But you have to believe that God knows what he's doing when he's not doing what we want him to do or when we want him to do it. That's all I can do. But I've got enough history to know what he can do.

And because I have history of knowing what he can do, I know what he might do, whether or not he doesn't. Dr. Tony Evans, with a difficult yet important perspective to maintain when confronted with the pain of grief and loss. Now there's more to this conversation and we'll pick it up again and we'll pick it up again tomorrow. For now though, I wanted to let you know that the full-length version of today's message is available as a part of the powerful seven-part series, Living with Loss. Remember it's yours with our thanks along with the Evans family's brand new book, Divine Disruption, holding on to faith when life breaks your heart. We'll send both of these resources to you as our way of saying thanks when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching coming your way. This is a limited time bundle so I encourage you to make the arrangements right away. Just visit tonyevans.org to complete your request or call our resource center anytime of the day or night at 1-800-800-3222. Again 1-800-800-3222. Well again tomorrow we'll have the second half of this powerful conversation addressing our questions about God when confronted with difficult times that just don't make sense. Be sure to be back with us for that. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-24 23:10:01 / 2023-07-24 23:18:37 / 9

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