Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reflections on the death of a friend, Brian Hamrick

Pastor Brian Hamrick entered the land of the living last night, April 24, 2009, while recuperating from surgery in Gulf Coast Hospital in Ft. Myers, Florida. Brian served as Pastor of First Baptist Church, Clewiston, FL. He was admitted to Gulf Coast via medi-flight on April 11 after serious complications from surgery set in. Brian was 33 years old and leaves behind his wife, Katherine, and two sons, Nathan (4) and Luke (1).

I visited with Brian last Sunday night during one of his more difficult times. I read Augustine's favorite Psalm to him (Psalm 32) and before we prayed, he said, "Tom, I want you to know that I am ready for whatever the Lord has for me. If He heals me, I am ready. If not, I am ready for that, too. It's OK." His grip was as strong as his faith and I left encouraged by the obvious display of God's grace in his life. I grieve over our loss.

I hate death. It is, after all, our "last enemy." We were not built to die. Sin ushered in death to the human experience. For the Christian, death is gain because it means entrance into the immediate presence of our Lord. But it is still a sorrowful experience because not only does it separate a husband from his wife, a father from his children and a pastor from his flock, but it also separates the spirit from the body. We were not designed to experience any of these losses.

Although death is an enemy, for the follower of Jesus Christ, it is a defeated enemy. Christ has conquered death through His powerful resurrection. As such, He is the "firstfruits," the trail blazer for all who are trusting Him. As He has gone, so those who are His shall also go. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead has removed the sting of death for every believer. Though we will not escape it, we no longer have to be terrorized by it.

That is why Christian grief is different from the grief of unbelievers. Yes, we grieve, but not as those who have no hope. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with HIm those who sleep in Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

Brian was a faithful husband, father and pastor. He loved God's Word and was willing to teach and preach with gentleness and patience, trusting the Lord to do His work in His time through His appointed means. I am grateful to have known him.

Please pray for his family. Katherine knew far more clearly than did Brian the seriousness of his situation. The one request that she made of me last week was to pray that her faith would be strengthened. May the Lord grant her this. Pray for Nathan and Luke who are too young fully to comprehend what their dad's death means. Pray for Associate Pastor Joshua Vincent, Worship Pastor Todd Buck and the church as they grieve the loss of their friend and shepherd. And pray that, as in his life, so in his death, Brian's Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will receive glory and honor.

13 comments:

Mark | HereiBlog.com said...

Tom,

I will certainly pray for his family as I have been doing. As ready as he might have been I'm sure his family wasn't as ready.

So sad, yet joyful at the same time.

Peace,

Mark

Mark | HereiBlog.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pregador27 said...

It is sad to see that he passed away despite our prayers, however; I know that God's will is best. I never met Brian, but joined you after your call for prayer. We will continue to pray for his church and family.

timmybrister.com said...

Our brother and fellow workman of the Word did not waste his life, and in the midst of grief in loss, his death is great gain. I cannot imagine what his sweet family is going through, but I will continue to pray for them and FBC Clewiston.

As someone who is just a few years younger in age, Brian's life and death serve as a great means of sobering grace to awaken me to the brevity of life, the glory of Christ, and the fulfillment of all God's promises fulfilled in Christ, not the least of which is knowing that nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. May the God of all comfort give peace as the Hamrick family rests in His sovereign purposes.

debbiekaufman said...

Tom: I am sorry to hear this news. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. I will be praying.

Matthew R. Perry said...

Tom:

Having served at FBC-Clewiston from 1998-2001 as Minister of Music and Youth, I remember e-mailing and talking to Brian when he came to Clewiston a couple years ago. We talked and e-mailed periodically. Cindy and I had a chance to visit our friends in Clewiston back in August and had dinner with Brian and his family along with a few others. I was immediately struck by the notion that this man loved Christ and love His church. FBC had had some struggles in the years prior, but we saw through Brian's faithful love and teaching that God was sending that church in a gospel-centered direction.

I will miss Brian and the fellowship we had. My heart grieves for his family and his church. May we keep them all in prayer.

Will said...

My heart grieves for the family. May God strengthen them, and be the Father to those little boys.

Steve Dumas said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the church.

Aaron Turner said...

Tom,

Thank you for keeping us posted about this young man of God and his family.

Our church and I will be praying that God will supply great faith to those that are left behind.

Blessings,
Aaron

kedo said...

I met him at a deathbed hospital visit and spoke with him a few times as a peer in the ministry. Our church had prayer for his dear wife and children at our services and continue to do so. God's grace be with you.

travishilton said...

Tom,
Many of us who knew Brian have been grieving our loss across the state of Virginia. I can remember the first time that I met Brian was at an Evangelical Forum meeting in Alexandria where Tom Nettles and Mark Dever where speaking. He was providing coverage of the meeting for the Founder’s Blog. My first impression of Brian was his humble attitude in the way that he preferred to focus on others rather than himself. Brian was a man engaged in the good fight. He was not ashamed of the Gospel and was willing to live it out and proclaim it no matter what the cost- even if it cost him his church. He was a true comrade. We shared a kindred zeal for theology and Christ’s church. I can remember how we both looked forward with joyful anticipation of what God had in store for our churches.
The last time I saw Brain he dropped in to visit me in my previous church on his way back to Florida with his family. I can remember us sharing the challenges we both faced as we prayed for each other and our families. My last impression was the same as the first. I was blessed to know him.
Brian’s death reminds me of godly men of the past who have died in their prime- men like the missionary David Brainerd or the pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne, who lived out the Gospel and then died young. Like Brian, they concluded their service to God in the fire of their youth. They left their mark and were swept up into glory. So it is with Brian. May God is glorified in the death of His saint.

Katherine and the children are in our church’s prayers as well as the people of FBC Clewiston.

Grace In Christ,
Travis Hilton

Adam and Holly Groza said...

tom,

if there is a memorial fund can you share the information?

peace,
adam

Tom said...

Adam and Holly:

I have just learned that you can send a memorial gift to FBC Clewiston in Brian's name and the money will go into a fund for Katherine and the children. Thanks for asking.

ta