Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 21, 2004


Stories of courage and hope can inspire us all


          A good friend called the other day. She was in tears, alone, and about to drive back home from the hospital. The doctor had given her bad news. There was no effective treatment for her cancer.

          The doctor had told her about an experimental procedure that might help. She asked the doctor, “If I was your mother or your sister, would you recommend this treatment?” After a long pause, the doctor replied, “No, I would not.” Then she told him that she would decline the treatment. It was obviously a tough decision to make, but a courageous one.

          What does the future hold for her? Suffering, of course, unless God answers many prayers for her healing. What else, only God knows. As always, there is good news along with the bad. This dear woman has many Christian friends. She will have their support and encouragement. One by one, these friends will stand in the gap for her, praying for and with her, and sharing their love for her in multiple ways. She will not be alone in her suffering should the Lord choose not to heal her except in her resurrection into eternal life.

          Fortunately, this woman knows the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. He will give her peace that “the world” cannot give. She will draw strength from the assurance that God loves her. She will recognize that love in the kindness and generosity of her friends and family.

          She will be comforted by the knowledge that God has prepared a room for her in that “house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Her spirit will be buoyed by her faith that when she exits this life, whenever that day comes, she will land safely “in the arms of Jesus.”

          Each of us must die. Most of us will suffer to some extent before we die. However, while we live, stories of people who face illness and death with courage can inspire us to persevere in our own troubles. Each of us is free to choose whether our story will be one of courage and hope or of fear and cynicism.

          My friend Hank tells an inspiring story about his father, an alcoholic who cared not for church or God. His alcoholism made life miserable for his children and his family for many years. Then, abruptly, this father was saved from his sins by trusting Christ. Now, he wanted his grown children to turn to God.

          Hank and his brother wanted no part of Dad’s religion. They ignored him and remained skeptical. Five years after being saved, Hank’s dad was killed in a car wreck. In the damaged car police found a Bible, with blood on it, and returned it to the family.

          At the funeral, the pastor read from the bloodstained Bible a note, hand-written by Hank’s dad. The note was a message to his pastor. He wrote, “In the event of my death, please do not follow the normal procedure for most funerals. Please offer an invitation for salvation at the end of your eulogy. Both my sons are unsaved, and this may be their last chance to be saved.”

          Hank said, “My brother and I could not wait to go forward and accept Christ. We were both saved at Dad’s funeral.”

          Some might say that was a setup. Both sons, now adults, were unduly influenced by the emotion of the moment. Such a decision would not have a lasting effect upon the two brothers. They would quickly drift back into disbelief.

          Not so. The two men remain after many years strong Christians. When Hank’s wife left him for another man, after many years of marriage, Hank became suicidal. He kept thinking every day about putting a pistol in his mouth and ending his misery. On the day he had chosen to kill himself, he decided instead to cry out to God. God answered his prayer, giving him the grace to persevere. “My faith in Christ saved me,” he said.

          Hank became a successful businessman. So successful that kids at school kidded his youngest son by saying his daddy was a rich man. The perplexed boy came home and asked his dad, “Are we rich?”

          Hank replied, “Yes, son, I guess we are rich. We are rich because your Mama knows Jesus, and I know Jesus, and you and your brother and sister know Jesus. Yes, son, we are a rich family because we know Jesus.”

          Such stories of courage and hope can inspire all us to grow – in hope, in faith, in love. They remind us that what happens to us is not as important as how we react to what happens to us. We have a choice in that; we do not always have a choice in what happens to us. That, really, is what life is all about – making choices that dignify our own little lives and inspire others to greater hope and courage.  + + + +