“…Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, and you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” –Isaiah 43:1-3
Suffering and death—they frame our existence and bring into sharp review the beauty of all that God has painted on the canvas we call life. The reality of these twin specters is seen daily as they brush the lives of those closest to us.
Today my heart is hurting for two people that I have never met—Dr. Fred and Lori. Dr. Fred was the pastor of First Baptist Church, Maryville, Illinois. He was shot to death yesterday as he led worship at his church. At this point, no answers have surfaced as to “why.” There may never be any answers.
Dr. Fred was cut off in the prime of life—leaving a beautiful family and church family to grieve in heartbrokenness. Today, his family cries—with hope.
Lori is a precious sister in Christ, blog buddy and cancer survivor who has just found out that her battle is not over yet. The news that her battle continues hit her like a hammer. After a brief “hibernation,” Lori lives–with hope.
God reminded His chosen people in Isaiah 43 that they were not alone. As He promised His chosen-so He promises His children. Through “deep waters,” through “rivers of difficulty,” through “fires of oppression:” we do not walk alone! We do not suffer alone! We do not die alone! God never forsakes those who know and trust in Him.
Stephen Curtis Chapman sings:
“We can cry with hope,
We can say goodbye with hope;
For we know that goodbye is not the end.
We can grieve with hope,
Because we believe with hope;
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again.”
Only in a relationship with Jesus Christ can we find hope. He is the only true hope in life, in death and in the “in-between” we know as suffering. Jesus said, “I have told you all this that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Today, I cry with hope because I know Jesus Christ personally. Do you?