With profound sadness, we announce that Sam Alex Moore, age 80, passed away peacefully at home on March 19, 2019, due to congestive heart failure. So reads the first sentence of the obituary of my dear friend, Sam Moore. To read this sentence gives you but a small glimpse into the life of a man that left a lasting mark on my life and the lives of so many others.
I loved Sam Moore. I loved his laugh, his positivity, his enthusiasm. I loved the way he listened to a sermon when I preached. His face had a way of communicating what he was thinking at that very moment. But most of all, I loved his joy.
I saw Sam’s joy when he told a story. A favorite story of mine that he would tell had to do with a time that he guarded player in a game of basketball who went on to the NBA. Sam told this story with life and wit, “I guarded him so well that he only scored 40 points in the first half of the game! I wore him out!” And then laughter would ensue.
I saw Sam’s joy when he talked about the things he loved. Fishing. Hayward High School basketball. This community. Hayward Wesleyan Church. The great outdoors. This great country.
It was his love for the outdoors that led him to his 29-year career as a wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
It was his love for our country that resulted in him being a decorated Vietnam veteran and Green Beret, serving in the Army from 1962 to 1966 in the 400th ASA SOD 1st Special Forces group.
I saw Sam’s joy when he talked about the people he loved. His children. His grandchildren. His fiancé Peg Bjork with whom he had a long, loving relationship.
Based upon the health journey that Sam had been on, I knew he was entering his final days. But the sober reality of receiving the call I feared, “Sam Moore is nearing the end,” was absolutely gut-wrenching.
A torrent of emotions flooded my soul. I was deeply sad. Eighty years is not long enough for Sam Moore. But I was also relieved. Sam was weary from the battle, and I was grateful his suffering was finally over.
When our hearts are filled with this level of sorrow, I’m thankful that the Bible has a language that we can use. It is a language called lament. Lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust.
Over a third of the Psalms were written with this gutsy and honest voice. Lament turns to God in pain, tells God why we are sad, asks for his help, and leads us to trust. Lament is what Christians pray when life is hard.
So while I still grieve Sam’s passing, I know that God is good.
When I’m stuck between my grief and what I believe, lament is the language I need. So today I write this lament as a way of expressing my grief but also my confidence in God:
Oh Lord, I turn to you on this hard and painful day. I look to you, the author of life and the giver of grace because my heart is broken with grief. A man, so full of life and joy, is gone.
I grieve the loss of Sam.
I’d rather have a different ending to this story.
Yet I know that you have purposes beyond what we can see.
So, Lord, I ask you to continue to bring comfort to Sam’s family. They need your grace both now and in the months and years to come.
But even more Jesus, I ask for your name to be lifted high through Sam’s life. You were the source of his strength.
Lord, on this hard day I choose to trust you.
I do believe that Jesus rose from the dead so that one day our tears will be wiped away — once and for all.
Through my pain and questions, I rest my hope in the One who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live even though they die” (John 11:25).
I hold fast to you and in these moments I reflect on Jesus and my friend Sam.
I hold fast to the promise of Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Whatever you may be facing today, God longs to hear your lament. Your grief. Your hope. Your heart. Call on Him and He will most certainly listen. Pour out your heart to Him for He is your refuge. Maybe today speaking the language of lament might bring a bit of healing to your weary soul. I pray it does.