By Daniel Juster
We have just published The
Story of Samuel, about my son who died in a house fire 18 years
ago. Samuel was 12 years old.
Over many decades of pastoral ministry I have come to understand that in
this life almost all will have painful and tragic experiences, even those
who possess extraordinary faith.
The great Pentecostal healing evangelist and faith teacher, Smith
Wigglesworth lost his son George at 12 years old. A spiritual father of
mine, elder Larry Carroll, from the congregation where I received
salvation at 12½ years old, lost his son in a terrible accident.
He also was 12. Five young people from the youth group of Pascack Bible
Church in Hillsdale, New Jersey died in that accident. Larry was a great
man of faith in the promises of God. The death of his son was a mystery.
However Larry rejoiced that his son was with the Lord and continued on
in the same faith and ministry as before, while carrying the pain of loss
on this side of eternity. My wife Patty and I have experienced few
personal tragedies, but they have been big ones. For me, the first was
the loss of my father to a brain tumor before I was nine and seeing the
depth of my mother's grief and tears over many years. For Patty, it
was the loss of her beloved brother, an Air Force Academy cadet, at the
age of 19 in a car accident which also took her best friend Karen. Over
the course of the next months her roommate at Wheaton died, as did her
grandfather. But the death of our son has certainly been our greatest
The story of Samuel began with a very amazing miracle of healing at the
age of one year from a fatal heart disease, then the battle for his
spiritual life, and finally his death just when we thought we had the
breakthroughs we sought. Even while Samuel was on life support at the
hospital, we were convicted that we were called to pray for his total
restoration and not to give in to his death. Those whom we knew who had
the greatest prophetic accuracy were of one voice that we were to seek
God for his recovery. During his hospitalization, we had a massive level
of prayer. Amazingly, we were given an empty ward next to his ICU room
for a 48 hours continuous prayer meeting that sometimes included up to 75
people. Churches and individuals from around the country, in Israel and
from the nations, Asia, South America and Europe were praying. Famous
international spiritual leaders joined us in intercession. After we
disconnected his life support, we were convinced that we were to pray for
his resurrection from the dead until the finality of burial. Yet in that
time, we never had a word from one credible prophet that Samuel was to be
raised, only that we were to seek it. Several said that as we prayed for
Samuel, we were praying for revival in Israel. And significantly our
sense to move to Israel came after this.
So pray we did, but Samuel did not revive, neither while on life support,
nor at the services for his resurrection, nor at the gravesite. This
raises that question, one that will be raised again and again. Where
are the promises of healing and protection? We quote Psalm 91:9-10:
"Because you have made the Lord your dwelling, even Adonai who is my
refuge, no evil will befall you, nor any plague come near your tent."
On the issue of healing, we read Psalm 103:3:
"He forgives all your iniquity and heals all your diseases." (TLV)
We know that people seek healing when they go to doctors. They pursue the
most unlikely cures for cancer. Should we not seek to position ourselves
to receive supernatural healing and to walk in health to the fullest
extent that we can? Yes, I believe so, and we practice this. We have seen
good results. But only God can grant the faith that reaches the goal of
supernatural healing or a resurrection. We can only place ourselves in
the Word in such a way that we maximize the possibility of receiving it.
Hyper-faith people blame the one who experiences the tragedy. We have
nown instances of this that are almost too painful to recount.
Though Samuel did not rise up, his friend, surviving the same fire, was
restored from what looked like certain death. We were the instruments of
prayer. After our prayers at this young man's bedside, his condition
turned around. Indeed, we saw several amazing signs of God's
intervention after Samuel died. We still heard the voice of God with
clarity on important matters that were before us. I cannot explain it,
but this is what we experienced.
Patty and I learned that there are times when we must simply rest in
God's sovereignty and the mystery of His goodness in spite of the
pain of tragedy. There are trials that test our faith and require proof
of our ultimate commitment. Do we surrender like Abraham who was ready to
sacrifice his son? Mike Brown wrote one of the best books on this,
Compassionate Father or Consuming Fire.
Patty's book Refined by Fire explains how we overcame
from her perspective. The Story of Samuel is my side of
the story. I wrote this the week after Samuel's passing, but it is
only now available. The book helps give us a biblical theology for such
suffering. It is not long. You can order it from Amazon electronically
or in print, or from our Tikkun office. I hope it is a blessing and
encouragement to you.
The title of this article was taken from one of the greatest sermons I
have ever read, by Arthur John Gossip in Scotland, over a hundred years
ago. It can be read online