These are the words that Benjamin’s brother Micah shared at his service in August. They are a reminder of both the life that Benjamin lived and the good that can sometimes come from what seems like a bad situation:
I would like to share with you a few thoughts, titled ‘What Good Can Come From This’
It’s not a rhetorical question; it’s a statement about “what good can come from this.” Sorrow is difficult and it is painful, but it is not all. God uses means, even such as these, for greater good.
- The first point, of ‘what good can come from this’, is that I have seen God’s grace and joy revealed more fully through difficulty and sorrow.
During the last few years, and especially last few months, of Ben’s trials, it has been incredible to witness the unity, strength, and support of our family and friends, and the hope and joy of those closest to him.
Proverbs 31 asks “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” I’m especially grateful that God permitted Ben to find such an excellent wife. Trish celebrated Ben’s accomplishments and cherished the adventure of living life with him. When times were rough, she remained faithful to the end, honoring her commitment to love Ben “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.” She gave selflessly throughout Ben’s most difficult times, upholding his dignity, bearing his pain as her own, and demonstrating what a woman of noble and virtuous character is.
I’ve seen the sacrifice and generosity of my parents, who have never quit praying or believing, caring for Ben and demonstrating unconditional love, every step of the way. Not only did they care for us kids in youth, but they cared for Ben in the most humble and tangible ways possible during his final days.
I have witnessed the whole lot of you, and countless others, who have journeyed with Ben through celebration and through difficulty. Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”You have done that, and I’m thankful to see such a demonstration of love in the midst of trials. Good can come from this.
- The second point, is that death imposes a sense of frailty and finality on our earthly existence.
It alerts us to the fact that there’s an urgency here; a remarkably short timeline to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. We cannot waste our lives; we dare not waste our time.
Ben lived his life with passion and gusto, embracing challenges, reaching for his dreams and accomplishing great things. He was purposeful. Yet even though his accolades and honors are impressive, he loved his God, family and friends, never letting prestige or ceremony get in the way. As you know, Ben tended to resist overly serious moments like the one we’re having now, and loved to ‘keep it real.’
If he were sitting next to you right now, seeing what a big fuss you’re making over him, I think he would lean over, give you a nudge and tell you “get a grip!”
Ben pursued every opportunity he had. Just barely a year ago, he finished teaching calculus at West Point and upon settling here in Lebanon, began taking chemistry classes to work toward his PhD. He never quit.
When helping others, he would give generously. I can’t tell you what a losing battle it was to try paying him back for the lunch or stack of books that he just bought you on his tab.
He loved others, and even fighting cancer, boldly gave testimony that he was in God’s hands. We should each be aware of the brevity of life, taking every opportunity, and sensing an urgency in accomplishing our purpose. That purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever; we do that by loving our Creator and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves; so do it now, and do it well.
Good can come from this.
- Thirdly, sorrow and death shake us and awaken us to the reality of things beyond our immediate existence.
Ben loved exploring this world, through math and science. I remember that as a young boy, he wanted to build airplanes, submarines, and atom-smashers – in our basement. In high school, his reading interests were astronomy, calculus and physics. Over the last number of years, he and I enjoyed many technical discussions, and buying many books. And for all of the fascination he had with the material realm, and all the advances of science that he would champion, he would tell you that one of the biggest disservices of science, has been to dismiss, or even discredit the existence of a transcendental, immaterial, spiritual world.
I think Ben would want you to learn something about math and physics at his funeral, so I’ll tell you that the normal type of matter all around us that we can see, feel and scientifically measure, is only 5 percent of what should be theoretically be there. Scientists can’t find the other 95 percent, describing it in terms of “dark energy” and “dark matter;” terms which only betray our ignorance of the things around us.
Ben recognized that science is often disingenuous about having all the answers for reality and he would have something to say about such pretension. “So you’ve managed to account for 5 percent of our universe. Good job, Sherlock: ‘That don’t impress me much’.”
There’s more that we don’t know about our existence than what we do know, yet for all the uncertainty, we know enough. Ben lived life to the fullest in this life while preparing to meet his Creator in the life to come. May this day remind us, that there’s a greater reality for all of us and prompt us to prepare.
Good can come from this.
- Finally, death is the means by which we finish this race, and enter into our eternal home.
There’s only so much that we are destined to experience in this life, before we each meet its end. For those who are called by God, death is the final bridge that He leads us across in order that we may be perfectly united and more fully embraced by Him. No more pain, no more sorrow; only eternal life and joy.
Though we have all been born into a world, cursed with disease, sin and death, there is one who has triumphed over these things. When God visited earth, we called Him “Immanuel”, which means ‘God with us.’ This man, Jesus Christ – God indwelling flesh, walked this earth and partook of all its miseries. Yet He did this not merely to empathize with us and show us how to live. He had a much bigger agenda. He came to give his life, and bear the penalty of sin for all who would call on His name for salvation.
And, while we walk this earth, continuing to endure the effects of the curse, those who call on Jesus will be free from the power of sin. It no longer has a hold on our spirit, and by God’s Spirit and grace, we are able to walk in hope and choose joy. Ben called upon the name of Jesus and it is for this reason, that we can, as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says, “…not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
Ben is now more alive than he has ever been, free from the presence of sin. He is now healthy, whole and fully embraced in the arms of Jesus.
Good can come from this.