Cornerstone Baptist Church

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God (Isaiah 43:2 & 3a NAS)

It took him, what seemed to be almost five minutes to walk, with the assistance of a walker and a cane, from the weight lifting area in the back of the gym to the center section. I recalled previous times when I had observed this physically challenged, middle-aged gentleman. He had been coming to the gym for about five years. I noticed his decline since my return after surgery. I was in awe of his persistence, courage and tenacity. Obviously, his mobility depended upon his dedication to exercise. He was an encouagement to everyone in the gym. I was humbled and inspired by his dedication, but ashamed to admit to how many times since my heart surgery I had excuses for not exercising. My curiosity conjured up all the possible scenarios of what may have been the cause of his infirmities and decline. No matter what scenario I came up with feeling sorry for himself was obviously not a part of who he was. He had 'hope' in the benefits he would receive from exercising. God reminded that 'earthly hope' will disappoint, and it will come to an end.

I had noticed him before, but on this day his presence was shouting out an important message. God was speaking. He had a lesson He wanted me to learn. He had my attention. I was listening. This unfortunate man's situation brought back to mind the destructive power of hopelessness. I pondered what a life of experiencing one's own physical decline would be like as it progressed. It would be terrifyingly hopeless to me. Loved ones would also have to watch the slow decline while anticipating the inevitable. After my second major surgery in 3 months, having lived with months of pain and dependence on others, I came to the realization there were worse things then dying; living in constant distress, pain and suffering with no hope! Because of Adam and Eve's sin, we are all in a decline and one day we all will face the inevitable; our death. Earthly hope offers no lasting benefits, nor does it hold any promises for the end of life on earth.

This earthly life is not the blissful happily-ever-after fairy tale you may have once believed or wished it to be. It is not your fault. It's not punishment; it is just a part of living in a fallen sinful world. I thank God for His Heavenly Hope, healing, and the blessings in each experience that came before and after my pain and suffering. God took my personal losses, and my life threatening health issues, and used them to create in me sensitivity for the sufferings of others. An emotion beyond sympathy, not pity or simple compassion for someone's pain and sorrow, but empathy. It is an ability to feel deeply and to be able to share in another person's emotions, thoughts, and feelings. God's son, Jesus Christ, embodies this for you and me. He took it beyond the level of human ability by shedding His blood to pay sin's debt and to provide everlasting life in heaven with God. God promises to give His children strength, courage and wisdom along with peace, joy and a purpose for our time on earth. Trust Almighty God, your creator and Heavenly Father to uphold you with His righteous right hand as He has promised. (Isaiah 41:10)

This life is just a blink of an eye compared to eternity in God's Heaven. Take your focus off of temporary earthly circumstances and onto your Lord and Savior; the promise of forgiveness and eternal life. This is "Heavenly Hope" that will not disappoint. Refuse to allow worldly bitterness and anger to consume your life. It will zap your energy and rob you of receiving God's blessings, grace and mercy while on your earthly journey. God has promised that this is not all there is. As His child, He promises He will never leave you nor forsake you. The outcome is the ultimate healing in heaven! Passing from this earthly life into our eternal heavenly home is the final freedom from sin, this body and a world of heartache, pain and sorrow. In the mean time, you are not alone. He has promised to uphold you. He sent His Holy Spirit to live in you, to walk with you daily, comforting, teaching and strengthening your spirit. He has proven His word as truth.

Today is God's gift to you; live it fully for Him. There is HOPE for tomorrow with a promise of everlasting life for "I am the Lord your God." Yes, life is hard, but God is good for every promise in His Word to be fulfilled. His HOPE will not disappoint!

by Jane Barrick