When I was a Youth Director, my good friend and mentor was diagnosed with breast cancer. Miss Debby, as she was affectionately called, had been the Christian Education Director and director of the church’s daycare and school for decades. She never married or had any children of her own. Her life was fully dedicated to Christ and nurturing children and adults alike. Miss Debby suffered two rounds of chemo over the next year. It was hard on her. It was hard for us to watch.
Suffering is all around us. Whether it be the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic, cancer, or a tsunami, suffering is germane to living on this side of Heaven.
The Apostle Paul said in his Letter to the Romans, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).” Can you imagine a glory so wonderful that even our severest suffering pales in comparison? This is the Christian hope.
The root of Christian hope goes down to a set of bedrock truths. Evil entered the world as a result of the first sin. Christ came to conquer sin. All who put there hope in Christ receive the rock-solid promise of a New Heaven and New Earth where neither evil, sin, nor the Devil himself reigns.
Our government leaders do well to remind us that if we follow current mitigation protocols, this epidemic will end; things will get better. However, they are unable to tell us, or at least agree upon, what will happen to those who lose their jobs, their businesses, or a loved one to coronavirus. When suffering comes, we need a message better than things will get better.
Christ has given us a far superior hope. No matter what you lose in this world to suffering, nothing can take away your hope in Christ (Romans 8:35). This hope enables us to cope in ways that baffle the world (cp. Romans 8:37).
To the skeptic, this might sound like pie in the sky thinking, but there is more reality here than at first meets the material eye.
Miss Debby continued to show up to church almost every day of her diagnoses. She continued to direct the daycare and school, until she could not. She spent her last days in the hospital writing thank you cards to people in her life. People lined up outside her hospital door by the droves to say goodbye. Up to her last dying breath, she knew that the glory to come surpassed her suffering. We all felt it. It was her legacy, her final life lesson, that she left us with.