October 14, 2021
Laity, Rising Fawn UMC
Scenic South District
1 Peter 1:3-9 (NIV)
Praise to God for a Living Hope3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Hope in Times of Trouble
For well over a year now, I have been submitting devotions to Holston Conference. I volunteered in an effort to improve my skills in sermon preparation, and writing devotions has been a help. Also about that time, the first wave of Covid struck; with schools moving to distance learning, I found myself staying and caring for my dad. At first, he had fallen and was recovering, but then two weeks later he was diagnosed with the Covid virus, and he and I were quarantined together.
I stayed with dad until I had to return to the classroom, a period of about four and a half months. We were two people who were connected by DNA, but that was about where our connection ended. It was a time of trials, as mentioned in 1 Peter 1:6, “You may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” I am not sure if this was the kind of trial that Peter was suggesting, but this period of time was hard for both of us.
When I returned to the classroom, I realized clearly that my dad could not stay by himself any longer. Mother had passed away about 6 years earlier from Alzheimer’s, and my dad was now alone. He agreed to move to an assisted living facility, but my sister and I agreed to allow him to return home on the weekends, and we would stay with him. The point is, the trials continued. The trials I speak of would be what you would expect from a person in his 90s. Prepare a meal that he asked for and then when served, he would push it back at you. You can hear the cabinet door open and close in the kitchen and you ask him if he’s hungry? His answer was always, “No.” Then he would start over again in about 10 minutes. (I learned not to ask but just to serve him pie.) Also, he was always up and down during the night. The trials continued, but at this point the trials were just on the weekends.
About a month ago, I had to be away. My sister went to pick my dad up, but he didn’t feel well and didn’t want to go home. Within a week he was gone. We were at his bedside when his passing happened. He was not able to respond, but the nurse who was caring for him was telling stories on him at the facility. He had kept them quite entertained. We were laughing and suddenly, my dad left us. I didn’t know then, but my trails had really just begun.
Like I said earlier, mother had Alzheimer’s. She had actually left us long before her body gave out. There was not much pain in that experience. From my perspective, not much had changed. Dad, the home, the farm, the extended family were all still there.
I was not prepared for this loss of my father. I guess I started to feel the change when we were cleaning out his room at the facility. I would never be back here with dad. I would never see him sitting on the front, in a rocking chair, smiling. I felt more. We would have no more weekends home or Saturday morning breakfasts, no more watching the same westerns on tv over and over again. As far as that goes, we would have no more home. My last night had been spent there. I had cooked my last meal there. The last family gathering at home was held after the service.
It occurred to me that I had become an orphan. No, I was not alone. I have my wife, children, grandchildren, and extended family. But I could never go home again. Even the home itself will belong to another family in a matter of weeks. I wasn’t ready for this change. I didn’t see it coming. I had no idea.
1 Peter 1:3-5 offers words of encouragement. Peter speaks of joy and hope in times of trouble. Our joy and hope are not just for the future. Eternal life is just not for the future; it begins when we trust Christ and join God’s family. Peter says that the trails “have come so that your faith . . . may be proven genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (Verse 7).” That is, God will help us remain true to our faith through whatever trials we face.
I still have a lot to process and reflect on. As I said, I was not prepared for the feelings that I was having. But I know that these times of trial refine and strengthen my faith and with God’s protection, I will persevere and do so with the joy of God in my heart!