My Grandmother and Generational Mercy

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“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” 

Proverbs 31:28

Nancy White entered into the joy of her Savior’s rest on the evening of July 31st, 2023. Her death was relatively sudden and unexpected. Her 96 descendants grieve our loss and will come together in a couple of days to do so publicly. Family will not be the only ones present as church and community members will gather to remember a woman who had done so much with the life that God had given her on this earth. As I prepare to make the drive, I cannot help but think of her faithfulness to her husband, her family, and to the God of her salvation.

As I consider the life of my Grandmother, I am impressed with the thought of generational mercy. No, I am not talking about some mystical covenantal inclusion based on birth to believing parents. What I am speaking of is the generational mercy of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. You see, my grandparents are not simply grandparents after the manner of the flesh, but grandparents in the faith. My grandparents were faithful over the course of their lives (my grandfather is still living) in giving the gospel to their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren. While not all of their descendants have believed upon the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, many have. In fact, all of their children are faithfully serving our Savior to this day.

The thought has hit me that even after my grandparents are gone, their faithfulness will live on through their descendants who continue to teach their own posterity. This is a powerful thought and the great hope of my grandmother expressed by her just days before her faith would be made sight. She could not help but praise the God of her salvation and voice her trust in Christ Jesus even as she spoke of the concern she had for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

In a day and age in which our modern world believes and acts as though we are better, smarter, more developed, and wiser  than those who came before us, those who have been saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus must inform our own posterity that this lie will not stand. We must be a people who look back to those who have come before us and their faithfulness to the gospel of our Lord for encouragement in trusting the God of our salvation in all things and finishing the course before us well.

My grandmother finished well this week.

In her death, just as in the death of my mother’s father 13 years ago, I am encouraged to finish well. This encouragement to finish well is based not simply in the experience of seeing two of my grandparents finish well, but in the hope of the gospel they possessed. Their hope was not baseless nor was it blind. Their hope was objectively in a Person who did that which they could not on their behalf. The hope that they had in the gospel of Jesus Christ is a hope that guided their lives, informed their decisions, affected the way in which they raised their children, and shaped their expressions of love toward their grandchildren.

I am now a grandfather, and as I traverse this new role, I am able to look back to the testimony and lives of my own grandparents to help inform me. My great desire is to look back over my life with the ability to honestly say, “I have done all that I can do for those God gave me, and that for the glory of God through Christ my Savior.” I believe that if we can say this in the lives we lead, then the experience of generational mercy through the gospel will be our own.

To be sure, God may not save all of our posterity. I truly hope that He does, but it is my own experience through experimental religion based upon the gospel of our Lord that generational gospel mercy is very real. Shouldn’t the salvation of the lost be our expectation when sharing or preaching the gospel? In my own experience my father is faithful to the souls of his children. His father, my grandfather, has been faithful to his own children and his grandchildren, and my great-grandfather was faithful to his children. I cannot help but see generational gospel mercy granted by God to parents who consistently and constantly spoke of the Lord and their great hope in Him.

I could continue with voluminous writing concerning the testimony of gospel grace to my family. However, this short testimony of God’s faithfulness and the thoughts concerning the gospel mercy of God toward myself and toward my family has caused my heart to rejoice. I am going to miss my grandmother deeply, but with her passing my hope is that her believing posterity will be encouraged to finish well and that her unbelieving posterity would see the testimony of her life and turn to her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

By; Pastor Joshua White

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