When hope seems gone… but isn’t

January 10, 2019

“No hope” may be the saddest words in any language. When I hear them, memory often transports me to my childhood and I’m listening to my grandmother tell us about the accident that ended my grandfather’s life.

Julius Campbell had been kicked by a horse he was shoeing and the country doctor who was called to the family farm could do nothing to save him. “Ellie, there’s no hope,” he had told this tender mother of ten. And through her many remaining years she tearfully told the story of his injury and death to her many grandchildren, hoping to etch a lasting memory in their minds of the life and death of the grandfather they had never known.

In my grandfather’s case, the doctor was right. Grandpa Campbell died, leaving his wife and large family to go on without him; but many times when hope seems gone it isn’t.

In July of 1997, a man in Cairo, Egypt, awoke in a morgue refrigerator. He had gone into a deep coma and was declared dead. There, in total darkness, he felt around and discovered he was resting among a number of bodies so he cried out for help. He was finally heard and rescued but the first paramedic who heard him opened the refrigerator door and collapsed in shock. The previously comatose patient lived when all hope seemed gone…but the shocked paramedic died.
The medical prognosis for a friend of mine wasn’t good when he asked for a few men from our church to come to the hospital and pray for him. We found him in such great pain that he couldn’t even be touched and the plan was to soon have him transferred to a university hospital where it was thought the expert care there might make a difference.

Hope for his recovery was shaky at best.

My faith must have been small as we stood there praying for our friend because when I returned to see him the next day and found him walking down the hospital corridor, I was so surprised that I asked what he was doing out of bed.

“My doctor wants to see if I can induce any pain,” he replied.

Hope wasn’t gone after all.

This man, who had seemed so near the end of life, was discharged from the hospital on the very day he had been scheduled to be transferred to the one where it was thought he would receive better care.

Some think old age trumps hope, but many times it doesn’t.

I once officiated at the funeral of a man who had lived into his mid-nineties. He and his wife kept to some of their old ways, even doing their cooking on an old wood-burning stove requiring wood to be brought in daily. Concerned that their father might fall while carrying in wood, the children bought them a new electric range which remained unused.

“If I fall, I’ll get up again,” said their father

This hardy farmer refused to focus on falling or looking back to tumbles of the past. His faith gave him hope for each day, whatever it held. And he lived to a ripe old age. What a good example for us all!

Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. A new book containing over one hundred of his best columns, “Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree,” is now available at your local or online bookseller. Contact us at rcministry@ameritech.net

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