Reed column: A father’s legacy
Ten years ago on Father’s Day, I received a special gift from my wife. It was a book. A book not for me to read, but for me to write.
It is called “A Father’s Legacy: A Lasting Heritage for Your Children.” It’s a do-it-yourself biography for me to complete and give to my children ó nearly 200 pages with questions about my life and faith.
When I finish, my story will be written down. I am not sure my life is worthy of a biography (or that it will even be an interesting read), but hopefully my children and future grandchildren will enjoy it.
In the Old Testament story of Job (19:23-27), the main character wants his history recorded. Job says:
“O that my words were written down and inscribed in a book. That they were engraved on a rock forever.”
Job had it all: family, money, possessions, health and dignity. But he lost it all. His suffering was great and he wished he had not even been born.
He hoped that if his words were preserved for generations to come, that somehow, his honor would be proclaimed.
Job had experienced defeat. Now, he wanted to experience victory. From utter defeat Job now clings to the very one who will bring him victory: God.
In the book I received, I am asked to record numerous memories. Like Job, there were memories of victory and memories of defeat. What I realize from Job’s history, and from my own history, is that tragedy and triumph, victory and defeat, are woven together. They are related like life and death.
To be obsessed with defeat is to lose sight of hope and God’s promises. To be obsessed with victory can blind us from opportunities to grow in faith.
Job knew that his redeemer lived. He trusted that God would defend his good name and restore him to honor. God did. Job’s cries were heard. God acted. Job’s story is written down, both tragedy and victory, along with God’s eventual compassion for this defeated man.
We call out to God in our times of tragedy and defeat. The writer of Psalm 17 models this bold conversation with God:
“Listen to my prayer; examine my heart; visit me by night; hear my words; show me your loving-kindness; keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings.”
These are the words of a person who trusts in God and seeks God’s help to turn tragedy into triumph.
Hymn writer Henry Scott Holland offers this powerful image: “With a living fire Jesus will purge all bitter things. Peace on earth will come with the healing of his wings.”
God knows our story whether it is written on paper or upon the memory our hearts. And God hears our prayers of suffering. With Jesus Christ as our redeemer God has responded. And to us will be given the victory.
Let our eyes forever be fixed on him.
The Rev. Ken Reed is pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church, China Grove. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.