April 2015 Newsletter
“But I will hope continually, and I will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord God.” -Psalm 71:14-16
I’m writing this update on a rainy day here in Wisconsin at my parents house. We’ve spent the last week having as much quality time with my Dad as possible, while helping my Mom out around the house. As many of you know, his health seems to have declined more the last few weeks. He is now sleeping most of the day and finds it very difficult to speak. It’s painful to see a man who loves so well and who is so filled with life disabled from sickness. But even now, our family is filled with hope and is singing praise to Jesus. We know that in Christ, death always leads to life and that the valley always lead to a mountaintop.
Paul the Apostle said something that seems to contradict what the world around us says: “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We don’t often see death as gain, it feels like loss. Of course, it is a loss for friends and family members. When someone we love goes home to be with Jesus it creates such pain in our hearts. They’re presence is no longer with us and the gap that is created by their absence seems unbearable. But truly, for a Christian, death is gain. Paul said that it’s far better to be with the Lord. We rest in the hope that when we die our spirits go to the the New Jerusalem (Heaven) where there is perfect peace and joy. All the saints of old eagerly wait there to return with Jesus to the earth at the sound of the last trumpet. The dead in Christ will be raised and receive their new and improved body. In this body we will eat, work, touch, and experience life just as we do now. But it will be so much better! No more sickness or pain. Perfect beauty. Boundless joy. In Christ, we can rejoice even in death because we know the end of the story. We will live for billions of years with Jesus as priests to our God. Hallelujah!
One highlight from this last week was the Sunday before Easter. A group of believers have been visiting my Dad weekly on Sunday afternoons with a guitar and violin to worship Jesus right there in the nursing home. It blessed us so much to see how many people love my parents. As we sang songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus” the atmosphere became charged with hope. We’re so grateful for this band of believers who are loving my family so well!
Would you also join with my family in praying for my Dad’s healing? One of the Scriptures the Lord gave me as we pray for him is in the book of Daniel. It’s the response of three young Jewish men after Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace: “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up (Daniel 3:16-18).” We have faith that God is able to heal my dad and are believing He will do it. Sickness entered the world as an enemy of God. Jesus wants us to be whole and we are standing on that promise. We’re praying for my Dad to fulfill all his days and even that his life would be extended. But no matter what happens we will continue to trust in the Lord. We will not be offended. We will trust His leadership. Some believers find it difficult to do these things at the same time. Praying in faith for healing while praising Him when nothing seems to be happening can seem painful. But this kind of faith pleases the Lord like nothing else can. We choose to hope continually and praise His name to the end. As we do so Jesus will be glorified and will strengthen our faith.