Saturday, November 7, 2009

Joy Challenge - Day 38 - Hope

Only a few more days left of my Joy Challenge - just a few more posts to write. I knew from the beginning I would have to write this one, but I have put it off. It is one that puts it all to the test. Is it really true that this great God we are privileged to call Father can bring us joy even in times of deepest pain?

Over the last several months I have watched my once strong, vital father diminish before my eyes. This octogenarian, whom everyone took to be twenty years younger, has suddenly aged. He walks stooped over his walker, the flesh hangs from his body. He is skin and bones.

The hardest thing to see is his once ebullient spirit sunken under the weight of suffering. I sat at my Mom and Dad's small kitchen table yesterday and listened with breaking heart to their conversation. Dad was talking about the very real difficulty of dialysis. How that now he has begun to have a terrible pain in his back which only adds to the hardship of having to sit in one position for three and a half hours. It has been one thing after another until the weight of it has just crushed his spirit. He sat stooped over, head bent, eyes filling with tears and said, "This is no life. This is no life. I'm ready to go home."

My Mom began softly weeping. She is trying so desperately to get him well again. She cannot bear the thought of his home-going. After nearly sixty-four years, she doesn't want him to leave her. "I love you very much," Dad said, "but I am ready to go home."

So, Father, where is the joy. If I believe all I've written, then it is there somewhere. With aching heart I see it, hidden beneath all the sorrow and suffering. It comes wrapped in hope. Hope in the One who has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us, that He will comfort us and give us grace for every trial, and a future that is so perfect we simply cannot take it in. It is tied with the ribbon of faith - a belief in the One who made those promises. The One who loved us so much He sent His own beloved Son to die for us - so that in Him and through Him all of those things and so much more would be possible.

Yes, the joy is there because joy doesn't come from our circumstances, it comes from Jesus.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you...
In this you greatly rejoice even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials."
I Peter 1:3-6


Photo: Dad, Mom and me