My sun porch

My sun porch

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hope springs from our suffering...

"Through [Jesus] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we glory in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character and character produces hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." -- Romans 5:2-5

I don't want to steal any thunder from my pastor's sermon yesterday, the topic of HOPE has been on my mind a lot for the last 24 hours.

There is a man who goes to our church and I have known him all my life. 27 years ago, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Tragic, frustrating, frightening and disheartening as I am sure that news was to Larry and his family, he kept plugging on. Surgery after surgery, disappointment after disappointment, he refused to give up on his life and relied on God to see him through and he is still alive and kicking YEARS after that original devastating diagnosis. Larry has been an inspiration to many people of the years, but yesterday, he became an even bigger inspiration to me.

This past fall and into December, Larry had yet another bad spell that left him very near death. Although we were all praying for him, most of us thought that this was finally the end to this sweet man's life. But, in typical Larry style, he just refused to give up. With his family and friends rallying around him, he has bounced back! Even though his doctors said he would never get out of the wheelchair, with the help of his walker, he walked across the stage yesterday morning to sing with the men's ensemble, the Plainsmen. And they sang TWICE! All that know Larry and his struggles were amazed and filled with hope for their own lives. Larry is the perfect example of the Roman's verses above.

Larry had expectations for his life. This brain tumor messed up those expectations and caused suffering his life. He and his family have prayed, yelled, cried and yet fully relied on God to help them through this suffering. Because of their faith, God sent the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen them and they made it through each step of this pain. It was not easy, but Larry, his wife, children and now grandchildren have all developed strong character. This character helps them look back at the struggle and see how faithful God has been to them. From this springs Hope. They can have hope in any situation that comes into their lives because they can remember the path that they have traveled to this point. I'm sure it is still not easy for them, but if you look at this family, you will see a lot of strength, a lot of smiling, a lot of laughter and and a lot of love flowing out of every one of them...all because of Larry's brain tumor and his amazing God-honoring life.

My life has it's own struggles, not near as dire as a brain tumor. When I am feeling low and wondering where God is during my time of pain, I hope I can picture Larry, up on that stage, singing his heart out. That picture in my mind and in my heart will give me the inspiration and hope I need to know that God is with me and will allow me to keep pushing and moving forward, never giving up. For without those struggles, I would not know the beauty of God's grace. I can stand in God's grace through my faith. I know that I am not alone in this thinking. What an amazing and inspiring legacy for Larry's life!

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