In the past month, three people I know have passed away. All had inspirational faith. All had a strong relationship with the Lord. And all were example of how we should be when faced with suffering.
II Corinthians 4:16-18 ~
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
The thirty-four year old daughter of friends ended her long struggle with esophageal cancer at the end of August. A few months before she died, she wrote the following:
Lord, thank you for the suffering that You have given me. Your Word says that blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that You have promised to those who love You(James 1:12). Thank you for keeping me away from the enemies' trap. I choose to listen to the truth because I want to live Your way. Hide me under Your wings from the plots of evil men. My enemies will never bring me down as I stand firm in You.That brought tears to my eyes, as this young lady, was able to thank God for her suffering. Her eyes were fixed on what was unseen.
A sixty-five year old pastor of the church next door, passed away last week of a sudden heart-attack. Dan & I met with his wife on Saturday and she said that just a few weeks prior, as he was preaching, he suddenly exclaimed to his congregation, "I can't wait to get to heaven!" Little did anyone there know that just a couple of weeks later, he would be gone. He was a wonderful, Godly man, who had served in this community for 37 years. I can hear the Lord telling him, "Well done, good and faithful servant." He was focused on the unseen.
This morning, we received word that a friend who was a bit older than us, passed away after a long struggle with cancer of the brain. We had received an email from him not long ago that talked about how he was trusting God in the midst of his suffering and how he too, was looking forward to seeing the Lord. He too, was looking ahead at the unseen.
They were shining examples of faith. They were examples of people who persevered in the midst of struggles. And they didn't just limp through it; they soared and they did it joyfully.
Our friend who died of a heart attack wasn't suffering before-hand physically, but he certainly struggled to bring Christ's message to a community who isn't very interested. He worked long and hard to serve the Lord.
Yet, instead of complaining and whining, they chose to take their eyes off their troubles and look ahead. My prayer is that I will be like that too. That I can take my eyes off the things that weigh me down, and keep them firmly on the Lord. That I can focus on the unseen as I go through my days. Because it is the unseen that gives me hope in the midst of hard times.
My encouragement to you today is to lift up your eyes and look full in the face of the One who will get you through. Keep your eyes ahead on the things that are not seen.