Our church recently lost a dear man named Richard. He died in his 60s from cancer. The end for him was quite painful, and unfortunately, this was nothing new to Richard. His whole life was punctuated by pain and tormented with tragedy. He never knew his own father. He was eventually adopted and loved, but grew up during difficult and hard times. As an adult, he had friends turn on him and almost cost him everything financially. Around the same time, he lost a son in a tragic shooting accident that must have felt like losing everything. No parent should have to lose their child. Some years later, his own terminal diagnosis came right around the same time his teenage grandson was killed in an auto accident. No grandparent should have to lose their grandchild. Life was telling him, “It is your turn next.” Blow after blow after blow…all vicious attacks from the enemy and a grand attempt to destroy a man’s faith in the process.
From what I just described…you might think and even understand if Richard was the kind of man who really struggled in life. Well, you would be partially correct. He did struggle, but in a different way and different light…because he suffered for and in Christ. He was not bitter, but faithful. Over the years, he had learned that no matter what, GOD is in control, Jesus died for us, and Heaven is our real home. Towards the end of his life, he had to start sitting in the church pew sideways with his knees tucked up near him because it was the only position that offered any comfort. The point being… he was in church…not bed! It was that important to him. He came as long as he was able. He wanted to be fully immersed baptized because he never had done that. He had been coming to church for years. Talk about checking something off your bucket list! The Pastor nearly ushered him into Heaven early that day as the water was so cold. He was so happy to have his sons escort him into the surf to die to his old life and rise to the new. At any rate, Richard’s faith was everything to him, and it shined even brighter as his earthly life started to dim. Even at the end of his days, dying in a hospital bed, he was still thinking about his testimony and witness. He was praying and commending his spirit to GOD’s love and care. He was having his wife read the gospel of John because it was his favorite and brought him comfort. In other words…Richard was keeping his faith in the midst of life’s harshest trial. His life was being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of his departure was nearing. And when it did finally come as it will one day for all…He fought the good fight; He finished the race; He KEPT THE FAITH. There is reserved for him a crown of righteousness…those were Paul’s words to Timothy in 2nd Timothy 4:6. They fit Richard really well too. Thank you, kind sir, for showing all of us who were blessed to know you….a great example of a man who KEPT THE FAITH.
In the grand scheme, that is what GOD is looking for from each and every one of us during these troubled times in which we live. KEEP THE FAITH! We don’t get to Heaven by what we do. We get there by keeping our faith while the world, the devil and our own flesh and doubt attempt to destroy. GOD is in control. Jesus died for our sins. Heaven is our home. KEEP THE FAITH!
Blessings, Pastor Mike 🙂