Chaplain’s Corner, April 2020: A Hope for Lasting Peace

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” —Edward Mote
 
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” —John 14:27 (NKJV)
As I pondered just what to say this month, I came across this story that unfortunately is an all too familiar one in the senior home setting. But, given the current crisis, it really brought to mind a question of just where our hope is, and are we at peace with where it is? Many right now are hoping that our government will be able to end this crisis. Some may hope that our president can find an end to it. Others may be hoping that the many scientists and health care professionals will find a cure for this dreaded coronavirus. The reality is that there is only one place we can confidently place our hope: in our Lord.
“Chaplain Tom was asked to visit Mary, a woman who was no longer eating and was unresponsive to medical treatment. Mary’s words to him were, ‘I feel like I’m dying inside.’” The past year had brought unimaginable heartbreak to this 75-year-old woman. Her husband of 54 years died suddenly of a heart attack. Shortly before his death, their daughter and granddaughter were tragically killed in a car accident. Then, not long after her husband’s death, Mary herself suffered a severe stroke that required 3 months of rehabilitation in a care center. It was during this time that her son sold her home without her consent forcing her to live permanently in a nursing home, and then he stopped visiting her altogether.
 
Understandably, these events took a dreadful toll on Mary, and she withdrew into a long, lonely winter of despair. Mary had been a Christian since childhood; she lived a godly life. So why would God allow all this tragedy? Did He forsake her in her later years? Absolutely not! But Mary did need help to see a bigger picture. Mary’s story is similar to those of countless friends I have met in nursing homes who have had their hopes and dreams dashed against the rocks of widowhood/widowerhood, ill-health, rocky relationships and financial hardships. (Perhaps you have experienced similar losses in your life.)
 
After several weeks of praying and sharing Bible passages with Mary, Chaplain Tom noted that her faith was re-ignited. God began to transform Mary’s despair into Hope. She not only started eating, she also began to tell others how God had helped her. Because of her emotional healing, Mary was able to help others find the kind of hope that she herself had found to overcome her darkness.
 
Hope is an eager and confident expectation in something not yet seen or experienced. Hope is very powerful! But if things do not turn out our way, as they often do not, we are utterly devastated. One of the keys to Mary’s transforming hope is found in the Psalms. The Lord never leads us to hope in ourselves, our circumstances, people or things. Instead, He tells us over and over to put our hope in Him only: […put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption—Psalm 130:7] [Put your hope in God…—Psalm 42:5] [The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.—Psalm 33:18]
 
Placing hope in things that God has not promised or intended for us can lead to disappointment and even despair. But placing our hope in God is an anchor for our soul, firm and secure. Why? Because we have His pledge that He will keep His promises. Indeed, Mary was still experiencing the same losses and unpleasant circumstances. What was different? She came to truly realize that amidst her great losses, God still had something very good in store for her. Like Mary, the losses we experience are only temporary, but the Lord’s plans for us are eternal. No doubt, there is a great measure of sadness, loneliness and grief in the losses we all have experienced. But if we can see our losses from God’s perspective, we can have great hope! Not hope in the things that are temporary, but eternal hope in our Lord. The same Lord who promises to right every wrong and who promises heaven.
 
Blessings, Pastor Gary
—To Be Continued—
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord—Psalm 31:24