Encouragement From The Word

Hold on to the One who holds the future

I’m torn about how best to write to you today.  As we enter a second state of emergency in the province of Ontario, which affects many of our readers, I want to tell you to keep your chin up and your face smiling, that better days are ahead.  Or, as the Premier of Ontario said when he announced the new stay-at-home order, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”  (Whether he knew it or not, he borrowed that from the late televangelist Robert Schuller!)

However…even though I call this Encouragement From The Word, I’m not here to be a cheerleader.  It’s Encouragement From The Word.

So I’m not going to tell you to keep smiling or keep your chin up; I’m not going to tell you to be tough, even though these are not bad pieces of advice.

I’m going to tell you to hold on to the One who holds the future.

I know many people who are acquainted with hardship in these days – and I don’t mean the “hardship” of wearing a mask.  I’m talking about sickness – severe sickness – that has left the ill and their family members desperate.

I’ve heard of the heartbreak of people having to drop sick loved ones off at the hospital door, because they are not allowed to accompany them.

I’ve heard of people so focused on the mere act of breathing that nothing else matters.  (Remember the old motto of the Lung Association?)

And I wonder:  without faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the future, who knows tomorrow, how does anyone cope?

We don’t know when things will be better.  But they will be better.  Trusting Jesus right now makes life better, both for today and for eternity.

In him you will find your strength.

[T]hose who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40.31, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

The importance of waiting

Last weekend, I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim speak as he was given an honorary doctorate at Tyndale Seminary’s convocation.  Lim, the South Korean-born minister of the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, made news last summer after he was freed after more than two years of detention in a North Korean prison, to which he had been given a life sentence with hard labour…all for having been providing humanitarian aid to the North Korean people.

In his short but poignant speech, Lim spoke about his experience as a prisoner in North Korea – his hard work, his sicknesses, his visions from the Lord, his memorization of Scripture, and the like.  But the one thing he talked about that struck me most was the importance of waiting.

Heaven knows that Pastor Lim had a lot of waiting to do.  When he wasn’t working – often chopping up large boulders of coal into small bits, winter and summer – he was alone.  He knew that his Canadian family, church family and government were doing all that could be done to secure his release.  But the days must surely have been long.

He redeemed the time, though, and found that he grew in the fruit of patience as he waited.  He learned many Bible passages and explanations of Scripture.  His prayer life was rich.  And he waited.

What do you need to wait on God for?  Too often, we like to have everything now. Many things, though, don’t come now.  As we wait, we grow more mature, emotionally and spiritually, and we learn that “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40.31a, NRSV).