The quaint fishing harbor on the southeastern coast of East Asia was teeming with activity. Ships were unloading their catch of seafood such as sea bass and grouper, prawns and crab, rock lobster, eel, and flip-jack tuna. Fresh from the sea, stored on ice in the belly of the trawler and offloaded onto the wharf where restaurants and wholesalers had trucks waiting to haul the goods to markets and dinner tables. Everywhere you looked, people were busy doing their part to make a living for their families.
A wife’s lament
Sounds of harbor activity overloaded the senses, but her mournful wail pierced the air and all eyes were instantly drawn to her. She could hardly stand on her own, seemingly wanting to collapse on the pavement on the edge of the wharf as close to the water as possible—as close to her husband as possible. She was surrounded by family and restrained by loved ones lest she throw herself into the depths to join him. They had gathered near the bow of the ship for a simple ceremony to mark the loss of her husband, a fisherman lost at sea. The hopelessness of her mournful cries asking for her husband to come back to her, not to leave her, will be etched forever in my mind. It brought tears to my eyes. Hopeless was the only word I had to describe her emotional state. In the midst of a young life, death had come and for this young widow it was simply hopeless. How could she face this and go on with life?
Worthless words of comfort
What do you say to someone who loses a loved one, a loved one who did not believe in Jesus as their Savior? Some may say, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” though one wonders if those prayers ever happen. Next time you have the opportunity, ask for permission and then pray out loud with your friend at that time. Others may say, “Time heals all wounds, just give it time and you’ll get over your loss.” Those who say such things likely have never experienced such a loss. Truth be told, there is little comfort one can share with someone at the death of an unbeliever whose future is eternally hopeless. We can express our sympathy for their loss. We can offer them true Christian friendship. We can talk about the Savior. God willing, this will be a blessing to them, temporally and eternally as they come to faith in Jesus as Savior.
Words lasting of comfort
What a contrast, however, at the death of a loved one who believed in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, there is real hope, a sure hope, a living hope, and an eternal hope! Because of Jesus, there is forgiveness. Because of Jesus, we sinners become winners with the sure hope of eternal life in heaven at our Savior’s throne. We who were dead in our sins have been raised to life in Jesus and now we have a living hope, ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you!’ (1 Peter 1:4). No matter what comes our way in life, we know that Jesus leads us, guides us, comforts us, and equips us to show his love and share his forgiveness. There will be times of hardship in every life. Jesus said so! Troubles will come in life, expect it. But Jesus overcame the world, sin, death, and the power of the devil. By his resurrection from the dead, Jesus gives believers a living hope!
Comfort on the seas of life
Fishermen board their trawlers with hopes of having a safe and successful outing. When they weigh anchor and put out to sea, they don’t fully know what lies ahead of them, fair seas or high seas. There are uncertainties and dangers on their journey, but they hope for the best. As believers, we too face a life with uncertainties, dangers, and course changing winds, but we know who leads us, our Savior Jesus and our sure hope is in him! We know who captains our ship and directs the winds for our eternal good and for the good of his church. Because of Jesus, we weigh anchor confidently knowing that no matter what storms we may face he uses his Spirit and Word to guide and direct, to equip and encourage, to correct and comfort us so that we are spiritually strengthened and safely brought into the eternal harbor prepared for us.
Sharing Christ’s comfort
Moved by the Savior’s love, we share that living hope in East Asia, bringing saving hope to the hopeless. That’s what our Savior calls us to do and on your behalf we go forth sharing His eternal hope. Living and serving in East Asia, separated from family and friends, separated from our passport culture and language is not easy, but we know that we have your powerful prayers and fiscal support to do this work of love. Knowing the Savior’s love and called by him through you, lifts us up when troubles come because we know that the Savior leads us on!