Mt recent trip to Guatemala was awesome, but it was also tough. It’s been 5 years since my last international medical trip, where I first went to the southern region of the Dominican Republic. I suppose I had somewhat forgotten how severe poverty and malnutrition looked. As Matthew West sang, “I’ve never gone hungry and always felt safe…and had shoes on my feet…in my own little world.” At the end of the first couple of days, I was very upset and saddened by seeing what these people and their children endured every day.
The following morning, a verse came to me that I never let go of during the rest of my time there. “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). It’s one of the most powerful verses in the Bible. Why? Simply because it speaks of hope. Anyone can read this or hear this and immediately relate to its message; we all hope for a brighter and better future. But there is nothing that can rival the hope promised by Jesus Christ. This hope is founded on “grace and truth” (John 1:17), which is something every human being will seek.
No matter what a person believes or places their faith, whether it’s Christianity or Islam or atheism or another philosophy, there is one universal reality known: each and every human being will die. Unlike the movie “Death Becomes Her” (who remembers that one?!), there is no potion to prevent our physical death. We will all perish. Now, with that happy thought, go back to your faith, and see if your religion/philosophy can help give real hope to a person experiencing pain and suffering. Can your religion/philosophy help a poor, malnourished woman in the mountains of Guatemala feel real hope? There is a legitimate explanation why the Christian faith flourishes when there is persecution and affliction, and that reason is no other religion/philosophy combines hope with truth and grace like Christianity.
The truth: Jesus Christ was a man who claimed to be the Son of God. He died by crucifixion and was buried. He arose back to life, overcoming physical death, and was seen by over 500 people. He then ascended into the Heavens. “I’m the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even though he dies, will live” (John 11:25).
The grace: We all deserve our impending death. We all fail, at times being hateful or greedy or prideful. “But God, who is rich in mercy and because of His great love He has for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead” (Ephesians 2:4-5)…”and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev 21:4).
I most likely will never deal with the physical challenges those people in Guatemala have on a daily basis. But who knows what awaits my life. Whatever challenges I may face, my hope will be grounded in the truth and grace of Jesus Christ, and my wish for those Guatemalans is that they find rest and peace on that as well.