I normally do not write about really deep or personal things on our blog. It is more a means of keeping our friends and family updated on our not-so-exciting life. However, tonight I just felt the need to write about something deep.
Our church, Grace Point Church, is beginning an Advent series this Sunday, as are probably numerous other churches across the US. Our pastor, Brent, has asked Daniel and I to be in a video to be played on Sunday morning. The message and the video will be focused on "Hope." Not a worldly hope, but the hope that believers have because of the redeeming work of Christ Jesus.
Brent has asked me to share about two of the most difficult life experiences I have walked through. First, my father's illness and death and second, my mother's battle with breast cancer. While these two circumstances are similar, both involved cancer and both involved a parent, my life was affected differently by each. Not because my mom survived and my dad did not, not because of different relationships with each parent, but because of where I was and am in my relationship to Christ.
Brent sent a couple of questions for me to think about and to guide our conversation for the video we will be producing.
One of the questions he asks is:
How did you maintain your hope in Christ when you lost your father and cancer threatened your mother?
As I thought about the question, I came to the realization that hope looked very different to me in each circumstance.
I remember the phone call I received while a junior in college in which my mom shared with me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had accepted Christ just 5 months prior to that phone call. As I hung up the phone I remember this immense feeling of hopelessness. I cried. I was angry. I began to question how God could allow this to happen to my mom. I kept thinking... my mom is going to die. I knew Christ, but as a young believer I did not know hope. Perhaps I did know hope, but certainly not the hope I know today.
7 years later I would receive another phone call. This time the phone call was from my dad with the news that he had been diagnosed with cancer. I would soon learn that the prognosis was not good. The treatment would most likely not save his life, but prolong it for just a short time. I cried. But this time they were not tears of hopelessness, but a cry of hopefulness. I did not think ... my dad is going to die, but instead, God please heal him.
My dad was not given an earthly healing. He passed from this life a little after 7:00am on Wednesday, May 11, 2005. A few hours later a neighbor shared with me that she was certain my dad was in Heaven. She told me that just the week before she came to sit with my dad while my stepmom ran errands and she asked him if he knew Jesus as His personal Lord and Savior. She told me with a smile on her face, that he said YES! Oh, what blessed hope of knowing Christ and Christ crucified, but even better yet, the resurrected Christ.
How did I maintain my hope? Through God's grace.
I spent time in His word, I prayed, I cried. I surrounded myself with other believers and talked about the things that were going on. I leaned on the promises of God. That He would never leave me nor forsake me. That even as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death , I could fear no evil because He was with me. I clung to the promise that His Word does not return void. I envisioned the mansion prepared for my dad, if he truly believed.
How did I maintain my hope? Again, I say through God's grace.