April 20

Joyce and I once again want to express our love and appreciation for all of you, our South Fork church family.  We have certainly needed and felt your presence with us over these last several difficult months, and especially these last few weeks as we said good-bye to Joyce’s mother.  Your notes and cards and calls and hugs and prayers have given such great hope and strength throughout, and are still needed and appreciated as Joyce and her siblings and all her family begin to live in a different world.  Many of you have made that same transition to a life without the physical presence of parents or other loved ones.  Many of you are facing critical moments even now, either with your loved ones or even your own health concerns.  Our thoughts and prayers and love are with you.

At one time or another most everyone asks the question, why doesn’t God spare us from such heartache?  My answer is always the same: God nowhere promised to do such a thing.  But our Lord has experienced that same pain and loss and even death.  And it is that presence and understanding and compassion and love that stems from our great God that gives us strength.

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.  Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.  He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”  And again, “I will put my trust in him.”  And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”  Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  (Hebrews 2:9-18)

That’s it, isn’t it!  That’s what gives us hope even in suffering!! He chose not to take the pain and suffering of the world away, and instead gave us freewill and the ability to choose ourselves to accept or reject Him.  Yet He joined Himself to our pain and suffering!  The Son of God hurt, suffered, died, was buried, and was raised from the dead!  Being made like us in every way, including taking on suffering and overcoming death, our Lord Jesus is able to help us in our suffering.  Praise the One who was raised and lives forever!!