Superman and Jan
Psalm 31:24," Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD."
Psalm 62:5, " Find rest, O my soul, in God alone: my hope comes from him."
On Monday morning my daughter woke my wife and I up, with the following statement, "Christopher Reeve is dead." Since then every media outlet has been talking about the heroic life of this actor and disability advocate. The New York Daily News wrote, " Reeve's journey from Hollywood he-man to real -hero started when the avid outdoorsman was tossed from a horse during an equestrian competition in May 1995. Confined to a wheelchair, he battled depression and, like many paralysis victims, even considered suicide. But Reeve impatiently vowed to walk again and lunged into the political battle to expand funding for medical research." One day while in Rehab and interview with Christopher Reeves happened to light up the TV in rehab. It on focused on his intense rehab workouts that were readying him to walk again. He expressed great passion for the future. The interview left my spirit with a very unsettled feeling. He lacked the spiritual keys to recovery. He was ready for the fight of his life but did have any other weapons then the human spirit and old -fashioned determination. He needed to reach to the God who offered real hope. The God who could give peace to the soul, even if he never walked again. Let me take you to a different place, a nursing home in Traverse City, I am sitting by the bed of a woman that has fought a fight with M.S. for over thirty-one years. Now a new enemy is attacking her fragile body. Cancer has joined M.S. in its endless attack on the life of this old saint. I hold her hand and pray the Lord's Prayer and she utters her the final words that I will ever hear her speak, "Thank-you." The next morning Jan is dancing in the presence of God. I had meet Jan five years before as I began my duties at New Hope Community Church. I was assigned the duties of visiting church family in nursing homes. So from time to time I would stop in and talk and pray with Jan. But what could I say to one in a nursing home fighting such a horrible disease as M.S.. She helped me out. She did not want to whine about her pain or rage about her disease. She had better things to talk about to a visiting clergy. She wanted to talk about faith, she wanted to pray for her family and wanted to find out about what God was doing beyond those nursing home doors. It was very clear that her hope was in God. The most important question about one's hope is what is your hope's focus. An excerpt from Christopher Reeve's 1998 memoir, "Still Me" states, "I knew that my ability to adjust to life in a wheelchair might depend on my spirit and determination, but my future would lie with medical science." In other words his hope was in science, stem cell research and rehabilitation. It is important to work at our recovery as hard as we can but do not make science your soul's hope. Science and research our no substitute for the real power of recovery. I believe that if one allowed science and research to feed their soul hope, their peace of mind would follow the ups and downs of scientific progress. There would have great stress and anger at each disappointing scientific out come. The real power of hope comes from God. Philippians 4:7 explains," And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Soul peace is the most powerful weapon to live a meaningful life. Science, research and medicine will all fail but God's love and hope never fails. After I learned that Jan was fighting cancer as well as M.S., I went to talk with her at the nursing home. She told me that her faith was strong and declared in an unusually strong voice three times, "I Believe!" I think she wanted this preacher kid to understand without a doubt that her hope was in God. I asked her what her favorite song was? She went through a lot of possibilities and finally, settled on "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Listen to these words-
There is no shadow of turning with thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions,
they fail not: As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon, and stars in their
course above, Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great
faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer
and to guide, Strength for today and bright hope foe tomorrow- Blessings all
mine, with ten thousand beside!
Jan's hope allowed her soul to rest in God. Let me explain it another way. Last week I went to visit a friend in prison. He was new to the prison system and this was my first visit with him all locked up. So I had a lot of questions. He seemed very peaceful as I visited. He told me that he had made a decision to not place his hope in getting out. That he was not going to live for the next court date or parole hearing. That he was going to be content in the situation. Then in told me that he met the most remarkable Christian in prison. This man expressed the presence of God everywhere he went. He smiled. He prayed. He welcomed newcomers to prison. He led bible studies. This man was a powerful force for the kingdom of God and he had been in prison for thirty years. This unknown man of faith learned to put his hope in God not in deliverance from prison. Therefore, he was truly free to express God's love to everyone. Many of us need to say with the Psalmist, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." [Psalm 42}
What is your hope in? Doctors'
Medicine, escape, science, research, government, deliverance, lawyers, technology, counselors, rehab '