Thursday, January 4, 2018
Two months ago my family and I laid my father (Paul Decker) to rest, after he unexpectedly died of advanced pancreatic cancer on November 13; three days after his diagnosis. The holidays were obviously different for our family knowing dad was gone. It is not only unique for us, but for thousands of others who lost a loved one in 2017.
After we buried my father, and traveled back home to Kansas from Ohio, death visited again. Within days, I found myself standing next to a friend in a hospital bed who had just lost her husband in a horrific vehicle accident, where she also received multiple injuries. No one is immune. If you are in a situation like this, where can you find hope in this New Year? As you see others dancing the night away and having good times with family and friends, you may feel an emptiness, because a spouse or parent is gone and not coming back.
On that November Monday night, at 10:00 p.m., I received a call I will never forget. My mother, in shock and in the deepest of tears told me dad was gone. As I hit the floor in overwhelming despair, nearly 1,000 miles away, I was soon drawn to pick up my Bible. I flipped to 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 and read it for myself and to my mom and sisters via cell phone, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting.” Within minutes, Jesus’ relationship with me and His Word were giving me grace filled hope. The hurt did not stop, or the tears dry up. Even so, Jesus and His Word became my Rock. My refuge. My sustaining hope.
Furthermore, additional hope was found in the story of my father’s life. On September 3, 1972, during the last night of a series of camp meeting services in New York, he surrendered to Jesus and became a new man, and then a year later was called by God to be a pastor. For 34 years my dad pastored churches throughout the Great Plains and Midwest.
Knowing dad trusted Jesus as His Lord and Savior and served Him gives me hope. The grace of God that saved him, kept him and took him to his eternal home, assures me, that one day by that same grace, I will see him again. Jesus’ relationship with me, His holy Word and the life-changing story of my dad is my sustaining hope.
If you are facing death or grieving someone who has died where is your hope? Start out 2018 with a commitment to Christ. Let His grace wash you clean of all you have ever done wrong. Surrender your life to Him. Time is short. Do it now. Live each day to its fullest for the glory of God and the good of others.
A prayer for you to pray – Lord God, as I walk through this valley of grief and pain, be my hope. Forgive me of all my sins and become my hope for today and all eternity. Teach me your Word that through it you will become my solid rock. In Jesus name. Amen.