Learning from a Brother
It would not be my preference to begin this way, but I guess I need to say it up front: R.C. Sproul Jr. and I have some significant theological differences, and not only that, but we have differences in areas in which we are both rather vocal. Though we disagree on these things, he and I have often shared cordial emails expressing mutual love and respect even in the midst of significant disagreement.
However, though I wanted to offer that by way of context, I am not writing today to discuss the nature or manner of such theological disagreement. Instead, I am writing to tell how R.C. Sproul Jr. has been an encouragement to me as the Lord has called him to pass through this darkest hour. Just a few weeks ago, after a 9-month battle with cancer, his wife Denise went to be with the Lord, leaving behind Sproul Jr. and their eight children. Through the Ligonier Ministries blog, Sproul Jr. has been steadily writing about the long journey from diagnosis to death and now life as a widower and single parent. These articles have been a great source of challenge and encouragement to me.
My Better Half teaches me to appreciate what Christ has formed in the marriage relationship. Sproul Jr. reminds me that the one-flesh metaphor used to describe husband and wife may be a little bit more than metaphor. “We are not commanded to live as if we were one flesh. Instead we are told that such is the actual truth. The one-flesh reality means that I haven’t just lost the love of my life, but half of me. … It isn’t quite accurate to say that when she drew her last breath a part of me died. Instead, half of me died.” But even in the middle of such pain there is hope:
The good news, however, is the same. Half of me has died, and is with Jesus. Half of me has no melancholy, but only joy. Half of me cries no more. Half of me sins no more. Half of me loves me, and the children, with a perfect love. Mourning, over the coming weeks and months, will move to dancing, as this half of me begins to more deeply believe the blessings I have in my better half.
I love Denise all the way to heaven and back. She in turn loves me all the way from heaven and back. And Jesus loves us both as the great bridge that not only brought us together, but keeps us together. May these gospel truths give me gentle sleep tonight.
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I just read the most wonderful, yet heartbreaking tribute to R.C. Sproul Jr and his family as they mourn the loss of Denise who recently went to be with the Lord after battling cancer. I am so thankful that God’s grace is sufficient for us, and that God has poured out his grace on this family that is in mourning at her passing. Paul reminds us today as he did the Thessalonian church, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13). We do not grieve as those who have no hope, but look forward to the resurrection of the dead on the glorious day of the Lord! Denise rests in the presence of our great God and Savior, and I pray that God will grant peace and joy to her family in this time of mourning.