To Jason’s Rice’s Church Family, First Baptist Church
from Pastor Rebert
The following are portions of a letter Pastor read to our church as he shepherded us to respond righteously to the loss of our dear brother Jason Rice.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God. This means that there are some things in life we will understand and some things we will not understand.
OUR DEAR FRIENDS THE RICES and their extended family are suffering unspeakable grief. On Monday December 15 around 1:00pm, our dear friend and beloved brother Jason Rice ended his life. People’s natural responses to news like this include sorrow, pain, guilt, speculation, and question. The fact is we do not have all the answers. There are secret things that belong to the Lord and we have to be okay with that.
Instead, the God-glorifying response by us who are joined with Rices through our union with Christ is to suffer with them. I Corinthians 12:12, 25-26. You and I need to take on their pain and suffering as if the tragedy happened to us. We must hurt with them, embrace their loss, and support them in ways that will impart grace.
This present ordeal is a learning experience for us all. It a chance for our church to do what the body of Christ was meant to do. Christ is attempting to teach us how to love and deliberately act in difficulty. We cannot repress this and act like it has not happened. It did happen. What we as a church, the living body of Christ, must do is not sinfully react, but deliberately act in a God honoring way.
What does I Corinthians 12:26 “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it” mean to us here at First tonight?
- We are going to share in the joys and heartbreaks of the Rices together. We will suffer and hurt with them.
- We will hold their family up in prayer so that they might receive comfort, strength, peace, and grace upon grace.
- We will come along side and help them in their trial with physical and emotional provision.
- We will not be silent. We will express words of comfort and love. We may not have words to say, but simply saying “I know there aren’t sufficient words, but I love you and am praying for you” will suffice. We will not ask hurting people questions that they do not have answers for. Questions like “How are you?” can be very tough to answer. We will not offer well meaning sentiments that have no biblical basis.
- We will be patient when grief has broken “decision makers.” When grief debilitates for an extended period of time, we will not demand that people “get over it and get on with their life” because we know a tragedy like this leaves marks that last a lifetime. We will be patient.
- We will speak the truth of the Word in a caring manner. We will not use preachy tones, but extend the truth of the Word that is needed in love.
- We will use discretion when communicating. A family’s tragedy is not time for gossip. I want to admit I was frustrated when Jason’s death was announced on a social media site when it was not anyones else’s right to do so at this time other than his wife’s. This is not the time to let juicy gossip flow through phone lines; it’s a time to grieve and hurt with our body. Spiritual maturity demands discretion.
- We will be the parents God has called us to be. This is a matter for you as a parent to discuss as you see fit with your children on the level that is appropriate. For younger children perhaps words like, “Mr. Rice is in heaven with Christ” is enough. If you are struggling with a right personal response to Jason’s death or would like some help in explaining this your children, come see anyone of our Pastors here who have been gifted to help you.
- We will not let Jason die in vain. We must understand the destructive power of Satan and our deceitful heart. Satan is aptly named the Father of lies. He puts dark lies into people’s minds, which affect their emotions and alter the perceived reality in which they live. These lies become as real as reality, and if you have have never faced this you have no idea how powerful a grip with which it holds. “Saints sometimes feel so bad that they want to die” (dg). (Moses in Numbers 11:14-15, Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4, Jonah in Jonah 4:8).
- Saturate your mind with the Word because Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
- Do not be judgmental, because our dear brother struggled and failed. We have our own struggles and we fail.
“May his death lead us to be utterly committed to overcome the weakness of faith that cost him his life” (dg). Be blood-earnest about guarding your mind. Do not take small areas of Satan’s deception lightly. Fight the enemy that brought him to the grave with every ounce of energy you have. Put on the armor of God and stand against this monster who desires to destroy you, yet tempts you with beautiful lies. Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God; breathe it, live it, surround yourselves with it. Hate Satan and the world which he runs, don’t play with it.
Realize that Jason is with Christ. Roman Catholic doctrine treats suicide as the unpardonable sin. The Bible, however, has a much more glorious and truthful message: it is a sin to murder (Exodus 20:13), but the same salvation that delivers us from any sin delivers us from this one as well (Romans 8:38-39).
Realize that people need you. People are hurting. Embrace guilt for selfishness instead of love. Feel shame for quickness and shallowness instead of true care and concern. Feel shame over impatience with your brothers and sisters when they are different than you, socially not like you, when they face ongoing struggles and do not recover on your time frame. Feel shame over worthless concerns when we were called to invest in Christ body. Feel shame and let it change you.
How can we help the Rices practically:
Click here or call the church office to sign up to bring them a meal in the next few months. This link will take you to a website that asks for the recipients name. Enter “Rice” and for the password, enter “1214.”
You may make donations to the church marked for the Rice family.