Our Blessed Hope

  • March 28, 2012
  • #7803

I have a difficult but a very good word for you today.       

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and on Joni and Friends, as you know I often share (what I like to call) "difficult" encouragement. It's what I did the other day with Bob a good friend of mine; Bob is not long for this earth – and he knows it. He was the first person who ever published my books and I still remember him, tall, well spoken, and a strikingly handsome man. But now, many decades later, he's gray-haired and stoop shouldered and spends most of his time in a wheelchair. And as many books as this man helped publish on the subject of suffering and heaven – back in the days of the late ’70s and ‘80s at Zondervan Publishing House, hundreds of books – I tell you for him it's a little different when you are the one facing the realities.

Bob’s wife, Jean, asked me to share a few words of courage with her husband. I prayed about what to say – and I knew it would be “difficult” encouragement so let me tell you what I wrote to my publishing friend:

I said, “Bob, you remind me so much of Christian in The Pilgrim's Progress. You know the story. Well, Bob, recall with me near the close of the story when Christian was at the end of his journey and facing death. Death was portrayed as a dark, swirling, river of fear and Christian knew that heaven and the celestial city lie on the other side, but it didn’t make the wide, deep river any less angry. He knew he would have to somehow cross it. And that is when Hope stepped in. Not saying a word, Hope positioned himself directly in front of Christian facing the river square-on. That seemed to be Christian’s clue to place his hand firmly on the shoulder of Hope.”

 “Together, they entered the water. As they moved forward, it's interesting that Hope never looked back at Christian, but only kept moving ahead: quiet, resolute and unflinching. It was a terrible crossing for Christian and, at times, in confusion he felt like he lost his footing and that he would drown. But even when Christian couldn't see for all the wildly spinning waves overwhelming him, he never took his hand off of Hope’s steady shoulder. Christian was able to feel his hand on Hope who kept leading him to the other side. Disoriented as he was, Christian knew that Hope was taking him in the right direction.”

That was the story I shared with Bob from Pilgrim’s Progress – and it greatly encouraged my friend. I don’t know if someone near and dear to you is facing the end of his life, but if there is, you might want to pull out a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress and read that chapter to your friend or family member. It will be difficult encouragement, but it will remind your loved one that hope is always, always the most steady, the most confident, and the most reliable friend a dying person can have – and what better person to place your hope in than Jesus Christ, the Blessed Hope. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “I find the great in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” Good words, those!

Don’t forget to visit my radio page today at joniandfriends.org to ask for your copy of Max Lucado’s little book, Resurrection Morning. And if you don’t have a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress, come to our website and print out this transcript and read it and then share it with that friend of yours who is dying. Yes, it will be difficult encouragement… but it’s also all about our Blessed Hope.

© Joni and Friends

Have You Been Encouraged?

  • Your email address will not be published with your comment or be displayed anywhere on our website.
  • We do not rent or sell your personal information to other companies or individuals.
  • For more information please see our privacy policy.