Monday, October 10, 2011

True Hope in This Present Hell

I had the privilege of being invited to a fundraiser luncheon for Treehouse Ministries last week and the added privilege of bringing a friend. Treehouse is a faith-based organization offering hope and guidance to at-risk teens and their parents — a ministry we are proud to support because we share their vision and know too many hurting young people who need them.

I was able to take with me a college friend I rarely see but keep in connection with through a shared love for kids, writing and the Lord. It was an absolute delight to catch up with her and even more so given the nature of the event and the stirring keynote we heard together.

Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, talked about hope. After welcoming 600 ladies to lunch in the voices of several God-loving vegetables we all know, he used personal testimony and examples from the scriptures to point to where true hope comes from. He applauded the value of bringing encouragement to kids who need to have a vision for their future in a career, outside of addiction or in healthy relationships but cautioned everyone that putting hope in their life’s dreams is really a false hope. The only real hope, Phil poignantly stated, “comes from an encounter with God who made you special and loves you very much.”

After the luncheon, I had 20 precious minutes in the car with my wise and ever-encouraging friend, Mary, who needed me to take her to the airport. During our brief conversation about the challenges and joys of raising kids and living life in this desperate economy, Mary said two things that will ring in my ears — sustaining me and spurring me on for the rest of this life. One of them was of a more personal nature and requires too much explanation to go into today. But the other point has a simple brilliancy of value for anyone reading this right now.

Because of our salvation in Christ, the suffering we endure in this world is the closest thing to hell we will ever have to know.

Stop. Rewind. Did you fully absorb that? When compared to what eternal separation from God would be like, your difficulties in this world will always be vastly more than pale. When you are in a personal and life-saving relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never know of hell. Whatever difficulties you experience, no matter how significant they are, that’s as bad as it will ever be for you because everything — absolutely everything — is eternal magnificence after this!

Oh, how good it is when a friend puts succinctly into words a truth that resonates so clearly and refreshingly shines the light of God’s perspective into the deepest places of our soul!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith and shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 PETER 1:3-6

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