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Evans Family Conversation about Grief, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 10, 2021 7:00 am

Evans Family Conversation about Grief, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 10, 2021 7:00 am

People going through grief will tell you there’s no way to understand what it feels like if you haven’t experienced it yourself. But Dr. Tony Evans and his four adult children are here to share their very personal perspectives on losing eight family members within two years including Tony’s wife, Lois. How do you hold onto hope when it feels like the pain is about to swallow you whole? Find out when you join Dr. Evans in this lesson.

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If all you see is time, death is only a negative. Dr. Tony Evans says it's important to embrace an eternal perspective on life.

Psalm 90 says, teach us to number our days, because this is short. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans. Author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. It's been said we're all only one breath away from eternity, which is not something many of us spend much time thinking about until we've been confronted with the loss of either someone near and dear to us or someone who passes suddenly and unexpectedly. In the case of the Evans family, they experienced both not too long ago when Winter Pitts, a wife, young mother of four, and a close family member suddenly passed away. Dr. Evans and his four adult children, Crystal Evans Hurst, Priscilla Shire, Anthony Evans, and Jonathan Evans, gathered with their church family for a time of reflection and perspective the day following the loss of winter. Today, we'll hear the second part of their conversation.

Let's begin with a short recap from Priscilla. It's an interesting night for our family and for so many members of our church and wanted to just 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. So, some of you may or may not be aware at this point that 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.

We wanted to come to church tonight though because what a great opportunity to talk about when you are in a place of unexpected tragedy and loss and difficulty. 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 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 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. I don't like it. You don't like it. 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 does it. I think that's the frustrating thing for me is that he won't let me into that space. When it comes to death and timing and all of those things, he owns it and he won't let me into that space. So as it relates to what we're experiencing, I'm not going to be allowed to wrap my mind around it.

I just have to be stuck like this. And of course, pits and the daughters and all that kind of stuff. And so like you said, I mean, I'm encouraged by you saying that because you're counseling me that you just have to be okay with trusting and believing in faith because some things God owns and he's not letting you, you just can't come in there. And that's what's frustrating about death is that we're not allowed and we don't get to see all the whys. It's just pure trust and faith, which leads strong people to stay. And some people who either are on the fringe or don't believe to leave because of that question of the why and him just owning stuff and you just have to just be there, just sit there. I tell my kids that sometimes.

So I kind of understand that you don't need to know, just sit there. But one thing that gives me hope is the fact that, you know, I'm a Christian. I know winter's saved. I know she loved the Lord, so I know where she is. Jonathan Pitts came out and talked to his daughters and said, you know, she's with Jesus now. Jesus has got her.

That's better than anything that we can ask for. So before we just move on to the next thing, I just wondered if you, you answered the question, but could you just speak to particularly mothers who might be in the room who either through abortion or miscarriage or, you know, a very young, just child death, very young, you know, and that thing can torture you, you know, as a woman. Could you just speak to women who may be here and that is their main concern and issue?

Maybe get some freedom from that tonight. Well, we know that abortion is a big, big issue today. The Bible is clear that there is life in the womb. So to attack the life that's in the womb is to attack what the Bible calls the image of God. There's a whole Psalm, Psalm 139, that talks about the life that was in the womb and how God was stitching the life, the person.

It talks about John the Baptist's mother, Elizabeth, when she ran into Mary who was pregnant with Jesus and how the baby leaped in the mother's womb. The baby leaped, not an it, the baby leaped in the mother's womb, being in that close contact with Jesus. So the Bible is clear that there's life. So when you abort, you're taking a life. Of course, when you miscarriage, that's not taking it, but a life is lost. Since it is life, then that child immediately goes into eternity because it is life, even though you don't know the child yet. If you have aborted, well, that's a sin. You've taken a life, but it's not an unpardonable sin. And you go to God. Jesus even says, you know, if you wish somebody was dead, you're accused of murder.

So you can kill in a lot of different ways. It was wrong. It was sinful. And what I told a couple not too long ago who came to me after years still grieving over this abortion that they agreed to have, that He paid for.

We dealt with it spiritually, repented of the sin. And I said, here's what I want you to do. I want you to go in the sanctuary. I want you to sit down, and I want you to give your baby a name. I said, you don't know whether it's male or female, so give it a name that could be male or female.

It could go either way. Give your baby a name. Thank the Lord for receiving your child into His hands and for forgiving you. And now move forward as He told the woman, and go and sin no more.

So you don't have to be in bondage to that sin once you have addressed that sin and once you move forward now in righteousness. This just goes back to the beginning a little bit, because I didn't necessarily know the way my dad grieves. His grief process is just to keep working.

I didn't realize that. Mine is not that. I didn't get that part of my siblings, my dad, nothing. If I was not in this family, I would have been gone a long time ago, because this kind of stuff throws me way off. So when you're a person built like me, where you lose your cousin, you go hold her daughters, and you're full of rage because you cannot believe that this is what is happening. Like you were explaining evil earlier, nothing evil happened to her. Her heart stopped. I feel like God allowed that to happen. When you're somebody who processes like me and doesn't go to hope real quick, you're mad.

How do you navigate that when you're not? I don't go to hope quick. I'm just mad. And you know what? I just wonder, because Anthony is willing to be honest like that, I just wonder how many people are in the room and you're in a posture of anger right now about something that's been allowed in your life to happen. Dad, look at all the hands that are going up.

So how do we wrestle with that? Two times already today I've had somebody in my office saying it's not fair. And one said, and I'm angry. I'm angry because it's not fair. First of all, God allows anger. God allows anger. You can feel guilty because you're angry at God, okay? But God allows anger. He allows frustration.

The three chapters of the book of Habakkuk is a frustrated angry man. How could you allow this God? So first of all, be angry respectfully, but it's okay to feel the pain of God disappointing you, okay? Because He did. I mean, you're disappointed with God and God already knows how you feel.

So hiding it doesn't make it disappear. So the first thing I would say is the first thing you do with that anger is you take it to Him and you say, I don't understand what you did. I don't understand why you did it. It's not fair. I am hurting. She loved you.

Look at these four girls. I don't get it. That's one. Secondly, you've got to have the right theology of death because if you don't, death is only a negative. When in God's economy, it's not only a negative.

In God's economy, He makes an astounding statement. He says, blessed is the Lord with the death of His saints. That is, He is excited to have winter with Him. Now we're not because of what is lost, but He's excited to have winter with Him. But if you don't see that, then all you see is the bad part of death and it is bad for us.

Okay? The other thing is that combined with that, it's not over. Paul says in Philippians 1 23, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Immediately, she goes there. So the body is rotting, but the soul is very much alive. So you do have to have an eternal perspective because if all you see is time.

So here's the lesson for us. You know, we're working on the funeral and Ecclesiastes 7 says, it is better to go to a funeral than a party because only at a funeral do you take life seriously. It says that a party with all the good times, you don't think about all this. At a funeral, you have to think about it. We have to think about it. We have to talk about it because it's in front of us. And he says, it's better to do that than go to a party.

Why? Because then you put life in its proper perspective. Seventy years, Psalm 90 says, you know, by reason of strength, you may make it to 80 years. Then it's over.

So what does he say? Teach us to number our days. Make every day count because this is short. This is, this is an introduction to life. This is not life.

Okay? You get some good times in the introduction, you get some bad times in the introduction, but it's only an introduction. And if we keep that in mind while expressing our honesty to God, we keep the right perspective in our pain and in our tears. We'll hear more on the importance of keeping a proper perspective in times of loss and sorrow when we return to the Evans family's conversation in just a moment. But first, I wanted to let you know about a book they've authored addressing many of the same questions and struggles they're dealing with in today's discussion. We've all been through difficult seasons and times in life when it seems like the hits keep coming and you can barely catch your breath. Dr. Evans and his immediate family know what this is like, and in their collaborative book, Divine Disruption, he and his children pull back the curtain on their recent faith-shaking experiences to provide biblical wisdom and practical encouragement on how to deal with the hard, unexpected things we all face sooner or later.

Their honest observations and insights can help provide answers you may find yourself searching for today or at some time in the future. We'd like to send you a copy of Divine Disruption today as our gift, and thanks for your donation to help continue the work of this ministry. And as an added bonus, we'll even include all seven full-length messages from Tony's current series, Living with Loss. This insightful collection of audio messages will minister to your heart during a time of personal loss and can help you find the best path forward. This is the final day these resources will be featured and packaged together, so make sure to get in touch with us right away to make the arrangements. We'll get the book and audio messages on CD or digital download into your hands right away. Online, go to tonyevans.org or give us a call 24-7 at 1-800-800-3222.

I'll repeat that information for you after part two of today's conversation, and this. What would it be like to see the very places where Jesus walked to follow in His footsteps along the dusty roads of Israel? With Dr. Evans' brand-new film, Journey with Jesus, you can find out. This feature-length film takes you to the heart of the Holy Land, from Bethlehem to Capernaum, from the Sea of Galilee to the busy streets of Jerusalem. You'll see the life of Jesus in a fresh way as you hear Dr. Evans and family teach from the very places where Jesus lived, ministered, died and rose again. Journey with Jesus is set to release this November at select theaters. Visit tonyevans.org to learn more and find where it will be showing near you.

This limited engagement of Journey with Jesus is in select theaters for only a few days next week, so be sure to visit tonyevans.org right away to reserve your tickets. Right now, though, let's get back to our conversation about grief, as Jonathan poses this personal question to his father, Dr. Evans. People who maybe have different personalities see it, not that I don't have faith. I just have a different personality.

Well, I think that—I think it's maybe a combination of the two. People with—just like people have different emotions, they react differently, people have different personalities, so they're going to respond at different levels to different things. What Anthony was saying, how he doesn't do it like me because he's different. He's more sensitive.

I'm driven, so he's going to do it differently. So that's one. But remember what faith is, because a lot of times we're defining faith as a feeling, okay? But that's not—that's a feeling, and you can have faith without the accompanying feeling. Your faith is demonstrated in your movement.

So guess what? Jonathan Pitts was crying while he was praising. So he had a faith of praise, even though a disappointment of circumstances. So most people have more faith than they think they have, but the emotions cloud whether it's faith or not. So don't mix the two, because sometimes the two are together, and sometimes they're not, because sometimes you have to trust God in the dark. His pitch back, and you have to do like Paul in silence, and you got to praise Him in midnight when you're in chains, you know? So one way to exercise faith is to praise in the midst of your pain. I'm glad you're my dad.

You're a pretty good dad. So Dad Crystal kind of touched on it a little bit, but it's on the page, so I want to get to it. Just talk about why the Word of Faith movement is a little bit dangerous, just because, again, trying to reconcile and balance believing God for the miraculous, but also trusting His sovereignty. So just how do we balance that? How would you encourage those who you're shepherding to balance a radical, outrageous faith in God to do big things, but also, you know, mellowing that out with the reality of God's sovereignty? Well, unfortunately, many, not all, but many in the Word of Faith movement use the concept of faith to manipulate God.

Okay? God cannot be manipulated. He does call us to believe. He tells us to grow in our faith. So we are to exercise faith, and I'll put it this way, in a sovereign God. So you're not exercising faith in a God you control. You're exercising a faith in a God who makes the final decision. But in exercising faith by our action, what we do is we invite God to do what He has willed to do, because everything God wills to do, He doesn't automatically do. He does it when He sees our faith. So in God's sovereignty, some things He does because He decides I'm just going to do it. Other things He does when we trust Him to do it. You say, but I don't know which is which, which is why you express faith in prayer in everything.

So you don't miss out on the ones He plans to do. Well, I hope y'all have been encouraged by our personal counseling session. We're going to pray for Dad, like I said a moment ago, but we're going to pray for you. If there's anybody in the room, we're going to pray for you first. If you're in the midst of a personal tragedy of your own, whether it's death, loss, or it's just a tragic accident, or something that's really taking your faith for a ride, and honestly you just need stability, you need the Lord to offer you an extra measure of comfort during this time, and just need covering in your life right now because of something like this.

Would you just stand if that's you? We're just going to ask Dad to pray over you tonight, just build up your faith and encourage you in Him, give you a peace that passes understanding. We want you to know we stand with you as a church. Stand up if that's you, okay?

And Dad's going to pray for you, and then after that we're going to all stand up if that's okay and surround Dad in prayer. Dear Lord, for those who are standing because they're hurting, because they're disappointed, because they're angry, because they're afraid, be the lifter of their head. You said a bruised reed you would not break. They're already bruised, that's why they're standing.

They don't want to break. Throughout the Bible you say that you do things suddenly. You come out of nowhere and you just demonstrate your greater glory. We have chosen to trust you, even though to a large degree we do not understand you. We come on behalf of our brothers and sisters in the name of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and we ask that you will intervene in every situation as though it was the only situation, that you will treat them special individually in whatever the category of need is, and may you demonstrate your greater glory in their lives and give them a fresh reason to praise you. In Jesus' name, Amen. God, we are grateful for your presence. We are grateful for you. We are grateful for your faithfulness in our lives. Right now we come to you asking that you would pour out your Spirit on our dad and our mom, continue to strengthen them as they carry, in some cases, weights that we don't understand and we never will. I pray, God, that you would give them a supernatural peace right now. I know that a loss is a loss.

No matter how you deal with it or how it shows, it's a loss. And God, I pray that you will allow my father and my mother the opportunity to grieve in an appropriate way so they're not holding things inside as they continue to work hard. I pray, God, that you would put in them, again, a focus of what exactly you would want them to be doing right now so there's not extra energy going in a bunch of different directions. You are a faithful God who has intention even when our hearts are broken.

And please show us that intention. We are grateful for you tonight and what you are going to do. Purify all of our hearts in this room. Take us out of here with a peace in our hearts with all these different situations that are represented here. We again are grateful for you, God. In your name we pray.

Amen. Anthony Evans Jr., wrapping up the final message in our special seven-part series on Living with Loss. Well, if the conversation you've been hearing today has struck a chord in you, I'd like to remind you of the special package we put together to provide you with insight and encouragement during times of life's biggest struggles.

It begins with all seven full-length audio messages from the Living with Loss series, including material we didn't have time to present on the air. We've also added the Evans family's brand-new collaborative book, Divine Disruption, holding on to faith when life breaks your heart. Together, these heartfelt resources can help sustain your emotional well-being and help heal the pain of personal loss. If you contact us today, we can send this special Living with Loss package to you as our way of saying thanks when you reach out and make a contribution to help continue Tony's ministry here and around the world. Just visit tonyevans.org to make your donation and request this special package.

If it's easier for you, you can call us at 1-800-800-3222, and one of our friendly team members will assist with your resource request. Again, that's 1-800-800-3222 or online at tonyevans.org. Well, tomorrow, Dr. Evans will begin a series of messages on the power of Jesus' names.

The Bible uses several of them, and each of them tells us something significant. I hope you'll join us. 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 11:41:42 / 2023-07-24 11:50:44 / 9

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