Tim Johnson, editor
November 30, 2008
You Can't Live or Die Without It
Love's Last Test
(Note: I wrote this article over a decade ago, when my father was suffering with Alzheimer's disease and my mother was his daily caretaker. I hope that it will bring encouragement yet today. [SK])
I miss my Dad. He set my young feet on a straight path. In my adult life, he was a strong fellow-worker in the Kingdom. I miss my dad even though he is still here. My dad has Alzheimer's disease. My mom cares for him; an ongoing struggle which both tests and strengthens her love for him day by day.
Mom shared this poem with me the other day; it was written by Dorothy Gast on honor of O.J. Gast and is entitled Will you Still Love Me?
Will you still love me if I don't know your name,
Love is truly the greatest of all abiding things. It "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:7,8a). And love, real love, between a husband and a wife, or a parent and a child, bravely faces even its final test. As my Dad would say, "in the final analysis" love really is "as strong as death" (Song of Solomon 8:6).
A man will start across a desert if he knows there is water on the other side. A cancer patient will suffer through the pain and discomfort of radiation or chemotherapy if she thinks there is a cure to follow. A laborer will toil long hours and break his back doing his job if he knows there is a pay check coming at the end of the week. Hope sustains us, carries us, and gives us a reason to keep going.
Is your life filled with hope? What are your hopes tied to? If it is dependent upon wealth then be prepared for disappointment; you can lose it in a heartbeat. Does your hope lie in your good health? That too is a fragile hope that can be dashed to pieces with your next trip to the doctor. If your hope rests in your job it is likewise flimsy. There is no such thing as complete "job security. Does your hope lie in your relationships with friends and family? It is a fact of life that friends come and go, that family will at times let you down, and that we are often separated from those we love.
There is only one type of hope that is sure not to fail. "Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Psalm 146:5). God is dependable.
His love, His mercy, His forgiveness, His wisdom, His power never fails. God's greatest offer of hope has come through the gospel (Colossians 1:23). In Christ we can find forgiveness of sin, the promise of a better life after death, and the strength to face life before death.
However, many people stumble through life with no hope before God (Ephesians 2:12). They have no assurance that the future is going to be better than the past They have no guarantee that their life, in spite of the difficulties encountered, is working out for their good (Romans 8:28).
The Christian though is blessed with constant reminders that his or her life is one filled with hope. The child of God can soak in the promises of forgiveness and guidance that the Lord has made in the Scriptures. He or she can relish in the bright picture of heaven that is painted in the pages of the Bible. The Christian has a reason to live and a reason to die with anticipation of going to a better place.
Do you have hope, dependable and lasting hope? If not, how can you live and die without it?
-- Phillip Mullins
Via The Manslick Road Speaker, Vol. 33, No. 4, Manslick Road church of Christ, Louisville, KY