In October, 2015, I knew that my beloved wife was being called to her eternal home. Her cancer had advanced. When I would carry her frail little body from the living room sofa to her bed and we murmured words of love, there was another part of me that was near panic! “How will I live without her? Can I survive the loss and remain together and functioning? Oh, God, no, please.” I screamed inside, the words hidden behind a calm demeanor that she needed for her peace. In the months that followed her death, I often felt a similar choking sense of panic when I came home to a house once full of her love, then an empty place where memories roamed like ghosts. But, I refused to let that fear possess me. With the love of friends, the strength of the Spirit, and some determination, I held onto hope that life, while different, continued and that joy would find me again. And, it has. Yes, even as I write these words, my eyes sting with tears, but they do not come from fear or panic. They are a reminder of a love that I will celebrate ‘til the day I die.
There is a passage that I quoted to myself often in those first hard and terrible days of loss. They are the words of Paul written to Timothy, his spiritual son. The old apostle was on death row, forsaken by most of his friends. After decades of service, his life had come down to the appearance of abject failure. The old man is sad, but not broken. “Tim,” he writes, “I am not sitting here full of regret, mourning what could have been. I am counting on God, taking His grace, awaiting His rewards.”
His words – “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. … That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” (2 Timothy 1:7-10, 12, NLT)
God did not make us cowardly, fearful people who run from adversity, moan about our difficulties, and surrender at the first sign of opposition. He breathed the ability into you and me that enables us to stand up to foes, to focus outside of ourselves to love, and to take charge of our emotions. In my panic and sorrow, I reminded myself hundreds of times, “I am more than my loss. God will help me to find tomorrow.” It is His truth and I drew life from it. Will you?
Our hope is not in our own determination or even in our ability to control events. Our steadiness comes from a profound assurance that God holds all of life – the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly – near His heart and is completely able to hold our salvation intact, come what may. “I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.” (2 Timothy 1:12, The Message) The security we need for life does not come from our situation, it comes from God, Who is greater than life or death.
Panicked? Trust Him!
Afraid? Look to His promise!
Alone? He is a Friend who is closer than a brother!
Lost sight of the future? Hold onto His hand today!
If you have time, read Paul’s entire letter to Timothy. There you will find words of hope, in spite of certain death. There you will find faith for this day. Be brave taking the power, the love, and the self-discipline that God breathes into you today. Then join Paul in this affirmation of hope for eternity.
“I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. ” (2 Timothy 4:1-2, The Message) “This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming. ” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, The Message)
Ev’ryone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Ev’ryone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations
Savior He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Ev’rything I believe in
Now I surrender
Shine your light and let the whole world see
For the glory of the risen King
Ben Fielding | Reuben Morgan© 2006 Hillsong Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055
Jerry D. Scott, Pastor
Faith Discovery Church