Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. John 12:24-28
Look at the seed of any plant: birch, fireweed, dandelion, wheat. The seed in no way resembles the mature plant it will become. The seed must die first. It will then bring forth fruit. Much fruit.
Our family has planted precious seed. We have sown in tears and have been promised we will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5). But before it can produce anything, a seed must die. It is used up in the ground as it nourishes the new seedling. Above ground, sunshine and rain take it from there. And God gives the increase, the fruit.
Likewise, Han’s body, the one he lived in while he was with us, the one that, like a seed, was laid to rest in the grave, is different from the body he will inhabit at the resurrection (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15). Hans’ new body will be like the Lord’s glorified body. It will not be earthbound; will not be subject to sickness, weakness or sin. It will be perfect, powerful, incorruptible, indestructible.
It would have been much less painful for us to see Hans bear fruit in some other way. To marry, raise children, minister, bless, laugh, bloom. But this is not what God chose to do. He has a different plan, a better plan. It still hurts terribly, but it makes all the difference knowing God is in complete control and that he will accomplish what he has planned. It is just astonishing that He would use us, that he would use our Hans in this way. I never would have imagined it. We are so un-extraordinary. Really.
Hans loved life, but he was also restless. He was at a point in his life where he was wondering what it is all about. What is the point? He was right to ask these questions, the hard questions. He was beginning to understand the vanity of so much that passes for living. He was beginning to see that the only hope for the world was for the King of Kings to come back. Hans did not believe he would make a good preacher, but he did say once that he didn’t see how a man could justify being anything else.
A few days before the crash, Hans spoke about this restlessness he felt. I encouraged him to pray that the Lord would show him what he was called to do with his life. I know I prayed many times that the Lord would show Hans just the first step in the path He had ordained for him. A few days later, God’s plan became clear. Hans was called to die young.
The very first step was already taken many years before when Hans received the Lord Jesus as his savior just before his fourth birthday. Then, apparently, the next thing was to live a clean life, work hard, bless his family, become a man, to honor his father and mother, to work for two years rebuilding his car, and then, when the last spark plug was installed, to get into it, drive to the highway and pull out in front of a pickup truck on the eve of his twenty-first birthday.
In all this, Hans has served the Lord. He has left a good testimony. He has followed Jesus in death unto life eternal. He was and is the Lord’s servant, and is with Him even now as I write this.
I do not believe in accidents. God is on His throne every minute directing in the affairs of men. God was not surprised that terrible night. He has allowed this tremendous loss because it fits precisely with his plan for the universe. God is love and everything He does is in line with His character. He always does what is right. His children are precious to Him. He is not capricious, negligent or inattentive.
If I thought the crash was “just an accident”, a freak chance event, I might just lose myself in despair, in the pointlessness of it. It would take an impossible amount of faith for me to believe the crash was an accident. The precision of the timing and logistics does not allow for mere chance. It was unexpected (by us) but it was not accidental. It was the appointed time. An act of love and sovereign purpose. Our God would not allow this terrible pain unless he had a very, very good reason. I trust Him for that. There is nothing else. When we see Hans again, we will know what happened that night and we will also know God’s purpose. I trust Him because He is good and because He does what He says He will do. He is real and He sees our pain.
After he left this earth, Hans received honor from men and women who observed his life and took the time to convey their sorrow, and also their admiration for the fine young man that Hans had become. Some wept with us and we are blessed and honored by their tears. This is one way I believe the Father has honored Hans. But more importantly, Hans is honored because his life and death have given occasion for the gospel to be presented in ways that would not have been possible if it had not been for that horrible car crash. It got the attention of more than a few people. We pray for them daily. We trust the Lord for the fruit. …unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
It was not for nothing, this terrible loss. Yes, our souls are troubled-we miss our Hans. It is a profound and heartbreaking loss. And the pain – the pain is unrelenting. But should we have asked the Lord to save us and Hans from this? But for this cause was Hans brought into the world. The question is not why did Hans die? The question is why did Hans live? In the eternal scheme of things, the chief purpose of Hans’ life was to live and die in a way that would get a specific group of people exposed to the gospel of Christ. Is it not so for all of us?
But couldn’t the Lord have accomplished this in some other way? Well, yes, I suppose so. But why should He? Why should dreadful losses like this happen only to other people, other Christians? Why should we just read poignant and uplifting stories about other people’s losses and how they were used for the glory of God? Why should we be encouraged at other people’s expense all the time? Why shouldn’t we suffer as others have, as God’s people always have?
Hans has already, in the short time since his home-going, gotten the good news of Jesus Christ into the hands of many, many people. And even if they listen just out of respect for the bereaved parents-the seed is planted. We have done our job. Hans has fulfilled his calling.
But, the most important thing that people must take away from this, even if no one ever gets saved because of what happened to Hans-the most important thing is this: We want it to be abundantly clear to anyone who questions why this happened to our family, that we serve a God who is worthy to be praised, even though He took something very, very precious to us. We follow Him, not because he spares us from heartache (because He hasn’t); not because of anything He gives us or does for us. We follow Him and love Him because He is Almighty God who loves us. He knows what He is doing and we trust Him. If nothing else is ever accomplished because Hans died, we know the host of heaven will rejoice and God will be glorified if we praise him in the midst of such a painful loss.
Father, glorify thy name.