Hope In Sorrow

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”

I Thessalonians 4:13-14

I think back to the first time I saw a man and his wife walk through the door of Freedom That Lasts. I recognized him from church, but I did not know him very well. He was hard to miss as he was a tall man with a radiating smile, and I was excited for the new visitors God had brought us. I went over to him as soon as we were done singing, and I invited him to my group. This was my first real introduction to John Slaback. 

John joined our tight-knit group and I saw his prayer requests transition from basic needs to very specific desires in his relationship with God. I started to see John grow in the Lord and he did not miss a Friday night. He even once came straight to Freedom That Lasts from the airport because he did not want to miss. He became a great encouragement to me and we started to grow close. I helped him one Saturday clean his house as he was getting ready to move, and he got rid of a lot of things that no longer appealed to him. He was making changes in his life, and his heart’s desire was to grow close to God. I loved talking to him because he was so hungry for God’s Word. 

John came to church every Sunday morning, and he also started to come on Sunday nights. He desired more fellowship with his fellow believers, so we started to go out as a group every other Sunday night. I went out of town for a week and he and his wife led the meal that Sunday night and played hosts for those who came. I looked forward to our Friday night group time, and I was excited to hear how God was working in his life. I saw real change in John and his life was such an encouragement to me. Just before I boarded the plane to head out of town, he texted this to me, “Hey brother, I pray you have a wonderful vacation with the family! May you soak up the the beauty of His creation and find rest and peace this week. Pastor gave us a runner’s check list and I thank God He provided me with you as a mentor. You are helping me grow and learn.” Tears filled my eyes as I read that and I felt like I could fly all the way to Hawaii without the plane. 

I let him know that he and his wife were an encouragement to me, and I was grateful that God brought us together. Little did we know that John would be on this earth for only eight more days after we exchanged those texts, and I wish I would have said so much more. I am grateful to have known John, and I still cherish the friendship we had. I often will pray and ask God to say, “Good morning” to my friend, although I imagine John is busy soaking up the beauty of being with the Father. God brought us together for such a short period of time, but it forever made an impact on my life. I would not trade the time we had for anything, and I fondly think back to our time together. I wept when he passed, but I rejoice in the great hope of our salvation. Because of this hope, I will see John again, and we will once again but able to discuss the goodness of our God. 

Are you filled with angst and worry? Do you have the great hope found only in Jesus Christ? Are you thankful to God for the hope we have in Him if we accept Him as our Lord and Savior? I know where John is spending eternity, and I look forward to the day when this promise of hope will be fulfilled. May we not sorrow as the world sorrows, but we may look unto our blessed hope. Titus 2:13 states, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” I praise my God for the life of John Slaback, and I am grateful that I will see him again when God calls me in the trumpet or He calls me home in death. Till we meet again dear friend.

Stay in the Fight!

In Christ Alone sung by Kristyn Getty & Alison Krauss

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