Hope – Our Reason For Living
By: Gordon Dasher
(Gordon is Al’s uncle and recently lost his wife, Jan, to early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.)
The cold and final wind blew in the midst of my fitful slumber and shattered my old reality. I knew – the moment the phone first rang – I knew. She was gone. Just like that, all matter of fact, the years had come to their final conclusion. It was over – We were over.
It’s not that I hadn’t prayed fervently and passionately for God’s mercy to take my once young bride into eternity. Yes, in the final days and months and years of the malevolent thief pickpocketing her of words, memory, and identity, she had been reduced to a shell. She was no longer her. Yet, I felt instinctively that she still bore his image – that she mattered. I knew that she was still worthy of all of me – my love, my attention, my passion. Everything in me wanted her to live – everything in me wanted her to go to her reward.
“Oh, God! I am overjoyed! My heart aches.”
Still, I hate the work of the demonic realm that ushered in a new age of sin, disease, and death. Death goes against the grain of what we think should be right. Eternal life is embedded in our DNA. We all grasp for breath no matter what the cost. And everyone feels the overhanging pall of death that reminds us that our time on this planet is short – inconceivably brief.
And there I was, alone in the middle of the night, face to face with a new reality that did not – that will not – include my beautiful wife.
The sweet nurse in her thick Filipino accent telling me that Jan was gone.
“So sorry for your loss!”
I wanted to tell her to put her cliché back in her pocket. But I knew that she meant it. How do you know what to say when someone experiences something that all of humanity will experience one day in the not so distant future? Then I wanted to tell her that I had not lost anything that would not be regained.
“This stings,” I told the nurse, “but it isn’t the end of the story. We are confident in a very bright future when everything, including this ravaged, emaciated body, will be restored to its original pristine perfection. We are resurrection people.”
Yes, I grieve. But it is hope that is perched on my sagging shoulders and speaks loudest in my ear. It reminds me that I will one day say, “You thought you had me, death angel. I will admit that you briefly wounded me, but look at us now. Better than new.”
It is that hope that empowers us to brave the cold wind that ushers in heartbreak and sorrow. We feel the gut-wrenching pangs of loss, but we endure it because we know that its reign is as brief as the breath in our lungs.
Death bruises our heels as if we had stepped on a rock, but resurrection crushes the head of death. It is the final blow to the kingdom of Satan. And toward that day, we cast our gaze when we will not only be raised from that six foot hole in the ground, but we are also transported to an eternal kingdom where we stand before our creator and praise gushes forth like a river from our lips because the majesty and glory of our God compels it – we will not be able to help ourselves.
And unlike my younger days in church, my butt twitching on the unnatural oaken bench, me longing for the preacher’s words that told me the end of his sermon was near, I…we…will only long for more and more and more. Overpowered by the nature of God, his greatness beyond what we can imagine, we will never grow weary of praise. We will never grow tired of worship.
That is why I worship him now; not just in a building with a steeple, but when I see the evidence of his creative and redemptive power stretched across the universe like Christmas lights at the mall. He’s everywhere I look. And the good news that he restores and redeems even the bodies of the dead is beyond my comprehension. But that is the promise of the resurrected God who pours out mercy and grace on unworthy people like me.
Sorry for my loss? Me too! But like life, it is only a vapor, my loss is. It’s only temporary – fleeting.
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O Death, is your victory?
Where, O Death is your sting?”