Pastor Bill Johnson's Sermon from Sunday morning, December 22, 2019, titled Transitioning in Hope at Bethel church in Redding, California.
Since learning the news of two-year-old Olive Heiligenthal’s sudden death, we have sought a miracle from God to raise her from the dead. We realize this is out of the norm, but that’s what a miracle is—it’s outside the box of nature and our power. As the Bible testifies, God is the God of the reasonable & possible, as well as the God of the unreasonable & impossible.
In this process, we have been asking God to fulfill our heart's desire to see His kingdom manifested in great power. When you are a friend of God and know that He is your heavenly Father, you trust Him and ask for big, outlandish miracles. As a church, we have been contending for, singing about, and witnessing God’s power to save, heal, and deliver for over fifty years. It is normal for us to ask for things, trust Him, and then glorify His name regardless of the outcome. This is what life with the King is all about.
In this situation, grief has not been avoided, as we have all been grieving from the moment we heard the news. Faith isn’t denial of the facts or of our emotions, it is knowing that God cares and intervenes in the midst of them. Here is where we are: Olive hasn’t been raised. The breakthrough we have sought hasn’t come. With the same heart of confidence in God’s goodness, we receive the comfort of the Good Shepherd as Andrew, Kalley, and Olive’s big sister Elsie, their family, and our church walk together through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). And so, we are moving towards a memorial service and celebration of her life.
Our community is being deeply impacted by the tragedy of Olive’s death. As we have gone through this difficult time, we are grateful to see that faith, hope, and love have been the response. The Lord wastes nothing. He will bring beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). The joy of our faith is that, though we haven’t seen the miracle of Olive being raised, she is alive in the presence of God. Her mom and dad will see her again, and we too will join her in resurrection one day. Believers know that heaven is full of homecomings, reunions, celebration, worship, and joy. He is good, all the time. Thank you for your continued prayers for the Heiligenthal family.
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