Memorial Service for
Dr. A. Dain Samples
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
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?"
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
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
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
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
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
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.