Dear readers: For the last 10 years, I have been the guy on call to be there for people when they’re going through tragedy. I’ve tried to comfort them with God’s Word as they mourn the loss of a loved one, face uncertain surgeries, and deal with pain in so many different ways.
Today, I’m the one on the other side. So I’m asking you to help me find comfort in God’s word. I
I’m asking you for your prayers. And through the blessing of Google Voice and the willingness of the editor to clean this up a little bit, I pray it all works out.
You see, at about 11:30 Wednesday night, I found out that my dad – living 10½ hours away – was in an intensive care unit and that the hospital was looking to take him to surgery quickly. The nurse suggested that family members head that way. So I got in the car and made it to Birmingham, Ala., before taking a little nap. Now I’m back on the road and have plenty of time to think.
The hospital staff thinks the surgery was successful, but he is still in the ICU on a ventilator, with another surgery ahead of him. Thank God for the blessings of modern technology. And really, thank God either way. I know he’s given my dad faith by showing to him his son and the payment that Jesus made for all my dad failures.
Don’t get me wrong; my dad is a wonderful man and a wonderful Christian example. But like all of us, his doesn’t meet God’s standard of perfection. Jesus did, and my dad knows that.
So I can take comfort in that. God has promised that neither life nor death, nor the present nor the future, nor any troubles, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. God has promised that he is working together in all things for the good of those who love Him. He has called my dad to babe and promised him an eternity in heaven, and so we know that God will be with him through everything in between.
As I speak this out loud, the words of the hymn "In Christ Alone," written by the Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, run through my head:
"In Christ alone my hope is found; he is my life, my strength, my song, my cornerstone. This solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What height of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when striving cease! My comforter, my all in all, here in the love of Christ I stand."
It’s hard not to sing that one out loud. And since I’m in the car all by myself, I don’t think anyone will mind. It’s amazing how reminding oneself of God’s promises really does change an outlook
Well, I don’t know how many words this is or if it will fit my normal column space, but I thank you because it’s been helpful to just say these things out loud to remind myself of how solid God’s promises are. I need not fear he is with me; his rod and his staff, they comfort me. So even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Keep me in your prayers as I travel. I plan to head back this way on Saturday when some of my siblings will have been able to make it to Arkansas to be with my mom and dad.
And besides, I don’t want to miss the chance to preach about how God shows himself so powerfully and clearly where we least expect it. I had been working on that sermon before I left, and this just makes it that much more important for me. Besides, I know it’s just what is needed for the lady who lost her husband at the age of 39 last week, for the several people who are just going through or about to go through surgery, for the woman battling cancer, for everyone facing their own struggles in life. It will be exactly what I need, too, and probably you as well.
Come join us to find comfort in God’s promises. And then I certainly don’t want to miss the concert by Martin Luther College Traveling Choir at 7 p.m. at Abiding Grace.
In Christ, Jon
Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday at 8 & 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com