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1987-2009 JSam Communications
unless otherwise noted

 

 

Devotions

The Memorial Service for
Dr. A. Dain Samples
Devotional Thoughts

Dr. Robert Shannon, Atlanta, Georgia
He and Dain's father shared in the conducting of 
Dain & Pat's wedding January 1, 1972 in Largo, Florida.

"Love never fails. Whether there be prophesies, they shall fail. Whether there be tongues, they shall cease. Whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.

"And now abideth faith, hope, love -- these three. But the greatest of these is love."
(I Corinthians 13:8-13.)

At two o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, in January of 1972, I united Patricia McColpin and Dain Samples in marriage 'till death do us part.' And now, at two o'clock on a Saturday afternoon,
we complete the cycle, all too soon.

We are here to celebrate a life. We are here to mourn a death. And we're here to confront two incomprehensible mysteries: the mystery of life and a mystery of death. We know a little bit about life -- not very much. We know even less about death. And we come here to confess our ignorance of these things.

We come here with a question that can 
easily be put into a single word:

Why?

Why should a career so brilliant be cut short so soon? Why should a life so beautiful suddenly end before us? Why, when it seemed that everything was going in the right direction -- professionally, in the family, personally, everything was going in the right direction -- suddenly, it's over?

And we cannot help asking that question.

We should not feel embarrassed or ashamed that we ask this question. After all, this is the question Jesus asked on the cross, and if he had a right to ask it, I suppose I have a right to ask it,
and that you have a right to ask it.

In a little village in Austria there is a cemetery. And in the cemetery a grave; the stone bears an epitaph of one word. I've read a lot of epitaphs in my life; it's the only one I've read that consisted of one word. For the stone is over the grave of a twelve year old boy. It gives his name, the date of his birth, the date of his death, and then that epitaph, in German: "Warum?"

"Why?"

And we may well ask that question today. However, I would not be honest with you if I told you I knew the answer to that question. I do not know the answer to that question.
But if we ask that question, we must, of necessity, ask a second question.

If we ask, "Why was this life cut short so soon?" we must also ask, "Why did we have Dain with us for 41 years? Why did we know this joy? Why did we know this love? Why did we have 40 years to forge memories that are going to last a lifetime?"

Now, I can no more answer the second question than I can answer the first question. But if we ask the first, we must ask the second.

And so I want to move from things I don't know anything about to something that I do know something about. There are two certainties in my mind today, and I want to speak of them both. One is something we know about God, and the other is something that God knows about us.

What we know about God is that he loves us. And we know that even when events seem to suggest the opposite. All of us probably had loving parents and we knew that our father and mother loved us. But sometimes, when we were children, events occurred which suggested otherwise. Now we are grown up and we can look back at it and understand it. But spiritually we're still children; there are things that happen in our lives that suggests to us that maybe God doesn't love us after all. But there's something about our faith that overrides what appears to be, and we come with this confidence.

We think of Naomi in the book of Ruth. Famine drove her from her homeland to the land of Moab. There her husband died, both of her sons died, and she came back in grief to Bethlehem, to the place from whence she'd come. She said to her neighbors and friends, "The almighty has dealt bitterly with me."

We can understand how she felt, even though we have to disagree with her choice of words. Because I am certain that God did not take Naomi's husband. And that God did not take away Naomi's sons. And I am certain that God did not take Dain Samples away from us.

So, theologically, I have to disagree with her choice of words, but we understand how she felt!

And this is the same way we sometimes feel, but we have a God who loves us so much, that he loves us even when we don't understand Him, and even when we are disappointed in Him.

You will remember that before we had the present Pope, we had Pope John Paul I. He was only in office for a very short period of time. When he died suddenly, reporters went out to talk to the archbishop of Denver and they asked him about the sudden and unexpected death of the new Pope. In great candor the archbishop said, "When we woke-up this morning, we were disappointed with God."

And some of us are frank enough to admit that there are times in life that we've been a little bit disappointed with God, but that's all right, because He loves us so much that we can be frank with Him and honest with Him and open with Him, and know that we are still His children.

And that's how David, after losing three sons -- one in infancy, one in battle, and one as a result of murder -- could still believe that God loved him. After those terrible griefs, David didn't come back and say, "Take that number 23 out of my song book; The Lord is My Shepherd, I want you to take that out. And that other psalm, 'The Lord is my keeper, my shade on my right hand,' take that one out. And Psalm 91, that great psalm of trust, take that one out." No, David didn't do that, because in spite of the fact that events suggested otherwise, he still was convinced that he was the object of love.

So that's what we know about God; we know that He loves us.

When this heart-attack occurred, a message was sent to Cincinnati Bible College to ask the students to pray that the disease would somehow be one that could be healed and that Dain's life could be spared. If those prayers had been answered, it would have been a miracle, because the nature of his disease was such that if he had recovered from this heart disease, if God had intervened, it would have been an absolute miracle.

That miracle did not occur. But in the months to come, God is going to work a larger miracle, because He is going to enable you to accept what has happened. And that is a miracle of the first magnitude.
It is the largest miracle of all.

I also want to mention something that God knows about us. And that's in the 103rd Psalm, the 14th verse, which says, "He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust." We tend to forget that.
I saw a figurine once, in the window of a shop.
And there was a little card beside it which said,
"Earth I am, it is most true. Disdain me not, for so are you."

We may forget it, but God knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Which means that he knows all of the struggles that go on in our minds, and in our hearts, and in our lives. He knows how we take pain and translate it into strange and odd things. He knows where we are heading, not just where we have arrived. He knows us better than our families, our friends, better than we know ourselves.

There is enormous comfort to me in the 14th verse of Psalm 103:
"He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust."

We could look at a life like this cut-off in mid-journey and wonder what would the next 40 years have held. What if? What if? What if? And of course there is no way we could possibly guess that, but God does know. God can look into a future that did not happen, and yet see what would have happened, what might have happened, what could have happened. God knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

In Matthew, chapter 7, verse 11, Jesus said, "What man, if his son asks for bread, will he give him a stone?" I'd like to turn that little text upside-down for a moment. I think you know that in Jesus' day the stones were round, and flat, and brown, and looked like bread. So, I want to ask the question, what if we ask for a stone, thinking it is bread? Will He give it to us? No. But we are children, and we sometimes cannot tell the stones from the bread. There are things that we pray for that seem so right, and proper, and we say, "It surely must be God's will because it seems so right to me." But sometimes, we just can't tell the stones from the bread.

And so, we rest secure in one who knows us, and who knows the future,
and who remembers that we are dust.

In these two things, what we know about God, and what God knows about us, there is an inexpressible comfort. Even when we think we cannot be comforted, He comforts us.
When we think we cannot be consoled, He consoles us.

And so for us today, there remains that great verse from the Old Testament which is itself a kind of prayer: "So teach us to number our days, that we may give our hearts to wisdom." Let's pray:

Thank You, oh God, that we may call You our Father, and know that You are better than the best father that ever lived. Thank You for the promise that You do not leave us alone and friendless in our grief. But that You come to us in many and strange ways to teach us that You are here, and that in Your presence, we may be consoled. We thank You, Father, for the belief that everything that troubles us, troubles You. That everything that pains us, pains You. That everything that grieves us, grieves You. Oh, God, we do not understand what has happened, and we do not ask for understanding. We ask rather for strength, and for patience, and for faith, and for hope. And give us the knowledge that we will understand it better, by-and-by.

We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

 

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Dain's Day