Grace and Gratitude in All Circumstances

“Give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I have this verse hanging up in my house. It’s a coffee cup verse. It’s so common that we almost think of it more as an inspirational quote rather than a command. In the whole of God’s Word, it’s an exceptionally clear-stated verse.

“Lord, what is your will for me?”

“I want you to give thanks in all circumstances. This is my will for you in Christ Jesus.” 

Pretty clear. So we’re all done, right? Not quite. Let’s think through the implications of this verse.

Gratitude and Grace

“Give thanks” is one word in Greek, eucharisteo. It’s a fairly common word in the New Testament. It is formed from the words eu (good) and charis (grace). The simple definition of eucharisteo is “to give thanks” but could literally be rendered “to acknowledge or be thankful for God’s good grace.”1

If God wants us to give thanks in all circumstances, at bare minimum it means there is always something to be thankful about. In every circumstance – good or bad or mundane – there must be some measure of God’s good grace.  

Maybe your circumstances are going quite well at the moment. Your health is good. Relationships are going well. Work isn’t stressful. You have plenty of food and a roof over your head. Thank God for all of that. Those are gracious gifts.

Maybe your circumstances aren’t going well. Perhaps you or someone you love is sick or in pain. Maybe work is stressful, a relationship isn’t working out, or you have financial struggles. Or everything is just fine but for some reason, you feel empty.

God still says to give thanks in the circumstance. Notice it doesn’t say give thanks for all circumstances but in all circumstances. Our gratitude does not arise from our circumstances but from God’s grace.

Grace in Many Forms

Depending on the circumstance, His grace may look different. Maybe the situation could be so much worse but it’s not. That’s grace. Thank God for that. Or maybe God is using your difficult circumstances to develop your character, strengthen your faith, witness to someone else, teach you a valuable life lesson, or show something of Himself to you. Give Him thanks for that. 

Or maybe you can’t see anything in the circumstance to be grateful about. I believe that’s why this verse ends with … “this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In Christ, we always have a reason to give thanks. In Christ, you have…

  • Complete forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7)
  • A new family, the church (Galatians 3:26)
  • The indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14)
  • Love that never leaves (Romans 8:38–39)
  • Hope that never fades (1 Peter 1:3-4)
  • Grace that is all-sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • The promises of heaven and eternal life (John 3:16)
  • And so many more great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4)

Our Response to God’s Grace 

The proper response to God’s abundant grace is constant gratitude. The Lord commands us to give thanks because He has given us plenty of things to be thankful for. In fact, He’s given us everything.

  • “He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:26)
  • “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)

To give thanks in all circumstances, we may just need to look more closely for God’s grace in our circumstances. Or we may need to remind ourselves of His gracious gifts to us: the blessings we have in Christ and the promises in His Word but also friends and family, kind words of encouragement, funny videos, good books, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks and clothes and coffee and medicine and quiet nights and the beauty of His creation and more. It’s all grace. So give thanks. 

Giving Thanks Even in Heaven 

One final thought. The apostle John describes a scene in heaven with a great crowd and angels singing, Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever!” (Revelation 7:12 NLT). 

Heaven is a place of gratitude. Even in heaven, we will give thanks to God.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Gratitude may not be the entirety of His will, but it’s central to it. We have much to be thankful for. We will give Him thanks for all eternity, so let’s practice for it today.

Questions for Reflection

What can you give thanks to God for today? (Be specific.)

Where do you see evidences of God’s grace in your circumstances?

What blessings in Christ are you thankful for today?

Spend a few minutes in prayer or writing out what you’re thankful for. 


  1. See HELPS Word Studies, 2168,


Books on Art, Theology, and Creativity (Theological Aesthetics)

janko-ferlic-174927“The Christian should be the person who is alive, whose imagination absolutely boils, which moves, which produces something a bit different from God’s world because God made us to be creative.”  – Francis Schaeffer

Below is a list of books on art, theology, and creativity (i.e. theological aesthetics). I hope this helps anyone seeking to understand the relationship between God, faith, creativity, and work.

Please let me know if there’s any books you think I should add.

For a brief introduction on the relationship between theology and art, listen to John Piper in the Ask Pastor John episode “A Theology of Art in Five Minutes” from Desiring God.

Note: The bolded items are a good starting point on this topic, especially Francis Schaeffer’s Art and the Bible (under $6), Philip Ryken’s Art for God’s Sake (under $4), and Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor ($10-20).

“If the opening chapters of Genesis portray God as a creative artist, then it only stands to reason that the people he made in his image will also be artists. Art is an imaginative activity, and in the act of creating, we reflect the mind of our Maker.” -Philip Ryken

“Art has tremendous power to shape culture and touch the human heart. Its artifacts embody the ideas and desires of the coming generation. This means that what is happening in the arts today is prophetic of what will happen in our culture tomorrow. It also means that when Christians abandon the artistic community, we lose a significant opportunity to communicate Christ to our culture.” -Philip Ryken

God Our Creator – Why He Creates

“In the beginning, God created …”
(Genesis 1:1)


God creates. It’s the first thing we learn about God. He introduces Himself to us as our Creator in the first line of His Word. And throughout the Bible, He continues to show us how His role as Creator is critical to our understanding of Him and our relationship with Him. We cannot overlook or overestimate what it means for God to be our Creator.

The first verb ascribed to Almighty God is create. In fact, create is the first verb in the Bible, period. God is a Creator God and He is a creative God. But He doesn’t have to create, actually. …

God is complete in Himself – Acts 17:25 says, “And he [God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” There’s nothing God needs outside of Himself. He doesn’t need to create anything to be fulfilled or be more God-like. Instead, God chooses to create.

But why? If He doesn’t have to create, why does He? Two passages can help us out.

  • The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)

  • “… Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth– everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

These passages teach us that God created everything to display His glory. That’s what the heavens are doing. That’s what we exist – to display God’s glory.

Now let’s pause for a brief second and explain what we mean by God’s glory. His glory is His weightiness (or worth), His supreme value over everything, His unmatched beauty.

God created to display something of Himself. God created the vast universe to display His power. He created with colors to show His beauty and joy. He created you and me with His hands to show that He is close, loving, and intimately involved in our lives. God’s creation says something about God.

In Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything, author Steve DeWitt writes,

“Christianity’s answer to the question of why creation is so beautiful is that it flows from the character of a beautiful creator. Nature is God’s self-portrait. It is not God, since God transcends what He has created, but it reveals in physical form what He is like spiritually. God creates beauty so we can know what He is like. Since He is and always has been glorious and beautiful, creation reflects this with seeable, tastable, touchable, hearable, and smellable reflections of His glory and beauty.”

Because God created everything to display His beauty and glory … we have constant and unending reminders of His character – of His love, His care, His wisdom, power, and grace.

The apostle Paul says that God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). God created everything for His glory and our enjoyment. As we enjoy a warm meal, a beautiful day, a cup of coffee, a laugh, a hug, a song, a book … we are enjoying something in part of what God is like in full.

Whatever you enjoy of God’s creation today, don’t let your enjoyment of it stop at the thing itself but reflect on how that thing displays the glory and beauty of God. He created it, so give Him praise and thanks for everything you enjoy!

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.(Revelation 4:11)

Questions for Reflection

  • What part of God’s creation are you enjoying today?
  • What does the thing you’re enjoying say about God’s character?


How God Comforts Us

kids walking bw

Do you need comfort today?

Maybe you’ve had a rough day. Or week. Or season.

Maybe a relationship isn’t going as you imagined, or your job is overwhelming, or the unending to-do list is just stressing you out. Or maybe you’ve lost someone, and you need comfort right now.

Whatever you’re going through – God wants to comfort you. He is “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

But do you know how God comforts you? If you don’t know the ways in which God provides comfort, you might miss what He’s doing in your life.

Here are a few ways that God gives comfort to His people:

If you don’t know the ways in which God provides comfort, you might miss what He’s doing in your life.

God Comforts Us by His Presence

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Paul says here that God Himself “comforts us in all our troubles.” In the book of Isaiah, God says the same thing, “I, even I, am he who comforts you” (Isaiah 51:12).

There is no greater comfort to one’s soul than to know that God Himself is with you. And notice that Paul says God comforts us in all our troubles. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through – God is with you to comfort you.

God Comforts Us by His Word

“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50)

“Promise” here is not referring to any specific promise – it is a reference to God’s Word. Another translation of this verse says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me” (NASB).

God’s Word is a deep well of comfort. When I lost my dad, I was repeatedly comforted by promises like this:

  • “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.’” (John 11:25 NLT)
  • “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NLT)
  • “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4)

These were, and continue to be, a great comfort to me and many others who have lost someone they love.

But notice, it is the Word of God that comforts. And His Word is filled with promises, stories, and reminders of His love and grace. We live in a day where we can easily access the Scriptures, so comfort is never from us. Open up your Bible, and find comfort in God’s promises today.

We live in a day where we can easily access the Scriptures, so comfort is never from us.

God Comforts Us by His People

For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” (2 Corinthians 7:5-6)

God comforted us by … Titus.

I love this. God uses people – you and me – to comfort others. This might be the most obvious way God comforts us. When we’re feeling down, upset, stressed out, it is often the people that God puts in our lives that comfort us the most.

But sometimes we fail to realize it is God comforting us through His people. Isn’t it interesting that Paul doesn’t say “Titus comforted us”? No – it’s God who comforted us by the coming of Titus. God brought someone. God provided the comfort.


God is the God of all comfort.

As you look back during difficult times in your life, how has He comforted you?

And as you think about others who need to be comforted, pray for God’s presence to be near to them. Text them a passage of scripture. Lastly, be there for them. Just as God comforted Paul “by the coming of Titus” … God will use you to comfort others.

Discussion Questions

  • What passages of Scripture have been a comfort to you during difficult times?
  • Who can you comfort today? What passage of scripture will you share with them?

“You don’t have to be alone in your hurt! Comfort is yours. Joy is an option. And it’s all been made possible by your Savior. He went without comfort so you might have it. He postponed joy so you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

He Gave Thanks: A Short Thanksgiving Devotional


“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. …and he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:17, 19)

Don’t gloss over that passage too quickly. Read it again if you have to.

Jesus is about to be betrayed. About to be abandoned. About to be mocked, beaten, and spat on. About to be unjustly tried.

He’s about to listen to a crowd of His people yell “crucify Him!”

He’s about to pick up a heavy, wooden cross and be nailed to it.

He’s about to bear the sin of the world. He’s about to absorb God’s wrath for sin.

He’s about to breathe His last breath. He’s about to die.

For you.

And for me.

And for the whole world.

He’s about to go through all this. … and He knows it.

 So what does He do?

He takes the bread, signifying His broken body … and He gives thanks. He takes the cup, signifying His shed blood … and He gives thanks.

Twice, He gives thanks.

He looks upon the elements that signify the suffering and death He is about to experience …and He gives thanks.

How should we respond to this? How should we respond to Him?

Look to Him and give Him thanks … no matter what you are about to face.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:3)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)


10 Bible Verses to Remember on Election Day (and after Election Day)


Amidst the noise of a long and difficult election season, let God’s Word speak to you and encourage you. Don’t scan through it, but read through it and remember that these are God’s words. His Word is louder than any other word in this world.

  1. Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Daniel 2:20-21)
  1. The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
  1. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. (Psalm 47:8)
  1. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3)
  1. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
  1. Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)
  1. I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)
  1. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. (Titus 3:1-2)
  1. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
  1. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27-28)

From these verses, we can gather that God is in control. God rules over the nations. God appoints rulers. Jesus is on the throne, reigning over all. No matter what happens, Jesus calls us to be obedient, peaceable, gentle, prayerful, and to make disciples of all nations. We must remember that Jesus is always with us, and that in the end, all the nations will bow to the One who rules over them – Jesus Christ, Lord of all.


The Sunday Gathering: June 19th, 2016

The Sunday Gathering is a weekly round-up of quotes I’ve come across, articles I’ve read, thoughts I’m chewing on, prayers I’m praying, deals I’ve found, and other “junk-drawer” things of interest I’ve come across throughout the week. 


I started these posts in January of 2015 but never kept up with them. I’m trying again. I need some regularity in my writing, and this is an easy way to do it. So here’s a few brief thoughts to sum up my week before heading to bed.

Father’s Day

Today is my fourth Father’s Day. It is my first one with my two girls. These days are always a mix of joy and anniversary grief. Joy because I love my girls, and grief because I miss my dad.

The sermon at church today was directed to father’s. The three charges to fathers were to 1) pursue God above all else 2) honor our wives and 3) shepherd our children. In that order. Perhaps the most meaningful reminder came out of 1 Peter 3:7, which says,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

My pastor commented on this verse (specifically the last part), saying, “You can’t bring a request before God that is more important than loving your wife”

It is always a great reminder to myself (and all husbands) that God cares so deeply about how we treat our wives that He will not hear our prayers if we are not treating them right. That is sobering.

My Girls

Ellie turned ten months two days ago. She’s in twelve month clothes. Big girl. Gonna walk and talk soon.

Tonight, Charis said, “Jesus made me chocolate milk … I love Him soooo much.” That warmed my heart.

Men’s Night

Men’s Fellowship started up again at church. About 80 men showed up to discuss John Piper’s new book, Living in the Light: Money, Sex, and Power – Making the Most of Three Dangerous Opportunities. I’ve only read the intro and first chapter so far but its good. It takes a look at money, sex, and power from a negative and positive perspective. The church too often sees these as negative, but they are good gifts from God meant to be enjoyed and stewarded for His glory and our joy.


Last Sunday, the deadliest mass killing since 9/11 took place at an Orlando club. 49 people were killed, and more wounded. One of the most meaningful memorials came from Anderson Cooper, when he simply read the names of the victims.

There’s not much more to say than the thousands of pages that have already been written on this.

It’s times like this where the final prayer of Scripture seems the only thing sufficient to say:

“Come, Lord Jesus”

Why Writing is Hard


If you look at my posts, you’ll quickly notice I haven’t posted in a while.

I want to.

I wish my writing wasn’t so irregular.

Like most writers, I keep idea lists. And they mostly remain ideas.

I even created an Excel spreadsheet with a writing schedule.

I committed to it like people commit themselves to exercise at the beginning of every New Year.

Will I ever get to the point of writing regularly? Weekly? Monthly? I don’t know. At this stage in my life? Probably not.

Here’s why.

I’m committed to other things. More important things.

Most nights come down to a decision to write or to cuddle with my kids.

And I love my kids. But if I cuddle with my kids, I’m going to get tired. And if I get tired, I’m going to go to sleep. And if I go to sleep, I’m not going to write.

So I can either write or I can cuddle with my kids. Or talk with my wife before bed, one of the only times of the day we get to have an uninterrupted conversation.

I’m writing this now because both my kids are in bed, and my wife is leading a women’s Bible study.

So Congratulations, Writing! You got some attention tonight. But I’ll probably ignore you tomorrow. Because I have kids to cuddle, and a wife I’d love to talk to.

us on bed

Discussion Question:

What are you more committed to than writing?

Anniversary Grief & the Hope of the Gospel

dad grave

My brother and I  typically spend this day – August 29th – with our dad.

Calling him. Giving him a gift. Enjoying a nice meal.

But now, we can’t. He passed away a year and a half ago already.

No more birthdays, Father’s day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

No more random letters, calls, or visits.

Just the desire to pick up the phone and call him to say “Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.”

Is Today Different Than Any Other Day?

You tell yourself that today is no different than any other day. They were gone yesterday. They’ll still be gone tomorrow.

And that’s true. But this day – whether birthday or holiday or any other anniversary – you know this day is not the same.

There should be celebration. There should be a nice restaurant meal. There should be an evening conversation outside, reflecting on the years that have passed by.

But there’s not.

You’re left with old photos and saved voicemails.

Where To Find Hope

Where is hope on these days?

It’s not in better circumstances. Or waiting for “time to heal all wounds.”

Hope is found in the Word of God:

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4)

God has great promises for the grieving soul. For now, I’ll focus on four.

1) Believers in Christ will be in Heaven, in the Presence of Jesus

We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord…we would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6,8)

My dad placed his faith in Christ before he died.

As much as I’d love to spend the day with my dad, I love and rejoice in the fact that he’s worshiping in the presence of  the risen Lord Jesus Christ! There is no better way to spend your birthday than that!

2)  Believers Will Be Reunited With Their Loved Ones

We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven…[then] the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-4,18).

For the Christian – all eternity will be enjoyed with their loved ones.

Whether the Lord returns or I die before that great day – I know that my dad and I will be reunited in the presence of Jesus. As the above text says, “comfort each other with these words.” This is, indeed, a great comfort to me. I hope it is to you.

But for now, I miss my dad. But I know where he is. And I know where I will be. But do you know where you will be?

3) God Offers You Eternal Life Today

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Our grief is great. But greater than our grief is our sin.

Our sin separates us from God. And the Bible says that the punishment for sin is death – eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23).

And your only hope – for your eternity, for your sin, for your grief – is Jesus Christ.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ himself is “our hope” (1 Tim 1:1). Only He can give you lasting hope in the midst of suffering.

Jesus came down from heaven, lived a sinless life, and died for you to pay the penalty for your sins (i.e. death). Three days later, he rose from the dead, conquering sin and death. God sent him to demonstrate His love for you. If you turn to Jesus and ask him to forgive you of your sin and trust him as your savior, you will be saved. You will obtain an unshakeable hope. You will receive eternal life.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24)

In your grief, in your sin, turn to Him.

This anniversary day doesn’t have to be about grief. With Christ, it can be about hope and joy.

With Christ, you don’t grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). His promises and His presence will strengthen you.

4) God Will Wipe Away All Your Tears

God will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:3)

That’s a promise that can lift up any grieving heart.

I look forward to that day.

I look forward to seeing my dad again.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Turn to Christ. Trust Him. Give Him your grief. Give Him your sin. He will give you eternal life. He will give you hope.

Make this the day where God turns your sorrow into joy.

derek dad

The Hope I Still Have After Losing My Dad

A year ago today, my father passed away somewhat unexpectedly after being in the hospital for over a month with some lung issues. I’ve written about this before but didn’t share the following story.
About seven hours before he died, I was stuck in Dallas traffic, on the phone with his nurse as she told me that I should try and get there immediately because he probably won’t make it through the night. He was in Wisconsin. I was in Dallas traffic. I had to rush home and find a flight to Wisconsin that night and hopefully make it in time to see him.
As I slogged through traffic, I asked the nurse to put the phone by his ear so I could talk to him. He was sedated so it was just going to be me talking. I told him how much I loved him and how grateful I was to have such a wonderful, loving father. I wasn’t sure if I was saying goodbye to him that moment or if I’d be able to see him that night. I stayed on the phone with him, telling him I loved him, for another 15-20 minutes until I made it home.
Thankfully, there was an open flight that night. I flew into Wisconsin, arriving around 11pm. My uncles picked me up and took me straight to the hospital room. They were giving him CPR as I arrived. The family was crying. I hugged my brother and my uncle. I’ll never forget what they said to me as I hugged them, “he waited for you.”
My dad’s heart had stopped about 20 minutes earlier to me arriving there. My brother was praying and asking the Lord to sustain my dad until I got there. When his heart stopped, my brother said, “Come on God!” Just then, my dad’s heartbeat came back. It came back long enough for me to arrive and be with him the moment he died and  went to be with Christ. My dad waited for me. It was his last way of showing how much he loved me.
My brother and I sat with him for awhile and told him how much we loved him and how grateful we are for him and how we want to be fathers like he was to us. It was one of those moments that are stuck in time. We prayed. We cried. We expressed our love to him.
I miss him. I miss him terribly. I really couldn’t of asked for a more loving and devoted father. I still grieve. There’s been a fog over me for the past year. Having grieved before, I know the fog will last for awhile. It’s a sad thing when your loved ones are reduced to photos, videos, and memories that come and go. But underneath all the grief is an unshakeable joy and hope that I will see my father again. How do I know this? Because of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Yes, Lord I do believe this! And so did my father! I know he is with Christ right now, even as I write. Listen to what Apostle Paul said,
 “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with Lord” (2 Cor 5:6-8).
To be away from the body (dead) is to be at home with the Lord. This is not wishful thinking or some nice platitude but a reality. For those who trust Christ as their Savior, there is a strong and sure hope of being with Christ forever. Nothing can shake that hope. No one can take it from you. For Christians, there are no goodbyes. There is only “see you later.” I will see him again. No longer sick. But together we will worship Jesus , who saved us from our sins and brought us back to God and secured for us an eternal home.
So yes, I may still grieve for now. And for awhile longer. But I do not grieve as those without hope (1 Thes 4:13). The Bible says that Jesus Christ himself is “our hope” (1 Tim 1:1). Only He can give you lasting hope and joy in the midst of suffering. He came down from heaven, lived a sinless life, and died for you to pay the penalty for your sins which is death. Three days later, he rose from the dead, conquering sin and death. God sent him for you to demonstrate his love for you. If you turn to Jesus and ask him to forgive you of your sin and trust him as your savior, you will be saved. You will obtain an unshakeable hope.
If you can find better news, please let me know. But you won’t find better news. Because there is no better news. He offers you unending joy and hope. Please come to him! Please don’t brush this off. I pray that God would reveal Himself and the truth of what I’m saying to you.
For my Christian brothers and sisters, keep looking to Christ in the midst of your suffering. He knows what you’re going through. He sustains you and comforts you. He gives you joy and hope in the midst of suffering.
And dad, I love you. Derek and I miss you. And many others do as well. But I know that because of Christ, we’ll see you later.