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FIRST-PERSON: Hope amidst sorrow

EULESS, Texas (BP)–People across the nation watched, prayed and waited to see what would be done for Terri Schiavo. She lived for years in a brain-damaged state. Eventually, her story broke onto the front pages of the national news.

Calls for intervention on her behalf rumbled across the news media and through the courts of the judicial systems of our land. Her parents called for someone, anyone, to do something. They made appeals to the courts and the state house. They appeared on television to call for intervention.

Yet, when it was all done Terri Schiavo died on Thursday morning, March 31. Supporters expressed publicly their grief and disappointment that more wasn’t done to allow Terri to live.

Over these next days, weeks and months many questions will be raised and many disappointments will be expressed. The “if only” syndromes will happen. “If only” the courts had given a different ruling.

Why the questions? Disappointment and grief and a sense of injustice … they cause us to question what has happened. And they cause us to second guess many things.

This isn’t new. Two women had a brother who was critically ill. They sent for Jesus to intervene. Jesus did not arrive in time to prevent their brother from dying. How did they respond?

They questioned Jesus by implication. “If you had come our brother would not have died,” they asserted (John 11:21, 32). Their assertion was a veiled accusation: Jesus if you loved us and cared, you would have come and intervened on our brother’s behalf. In other words, “Where were you when we needed you most?”

How could they make such assertions and accusations? Simply, their hopes had been dashed and their hearts had been hurt.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had an expectation that wasn’t fulfilled? Have you ever lost a loved one to death? Have you ever had a dream die? How about a marriage? Or a relationship? A career?

How do these affect us? We feel hurt, pain and grief. We raise questions. We ask the “what if” and “if only” questions.

And what happens in our hurt, grief and disappointment? In those deepest moments Jesus shows up. He weeps with us in our hurt. He comforts us in our loss. And He gives us hope.

He gives us hope in the present. Remember when His followers were about to perish in a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 6)? And Jesus appeared to them in the darkest hour of the night, told them not to fear, and told them to be of good cheer.

Here is a lesson for all of us: When we are in the darkest hour of the storm, we are not alone! Jesus is with us to speak words of hope and cheer to our hearts.

And He gives us hope for eternity. He told Martha He was the resurrection and the life. And all who live and believe in Him will never die (John 11:25)! That is true for all who live and die with their faith in Jesus.

So, whether in life or in death, we live with real hope because of Jesus! Now the question: Do you believe this?
Claude Thomas, whose column appears each month in Baptist Press, is the former pastor of the Dallas-Fort Worth-area First Baptist Church in Euless.

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  • Claude Thomas