A Word from the Artist

Did you know that there is one word you’ll never hear in God’s vocabulary? “Oops!” There are no “Oops with God. When Covid-19 hit, God didn’t say, “Oops! I never saw that coming. Oh my, what shall I do?”

Speaking as a photographer, have you ever noticed that no matter how beautiful a photograph is, if you can get the right matting and the right frame around that photo, it will make it look twice as pretty? In like manner, God has put a frame around each of our lives and that frame is death. At first we hate the frame, but once we ccept the frame then the picture inside becomes a lot more beautiful for we begin to realize just how precious and short a gift life really is. Life is far more sacred than we can possibly imagine.

I once had a hospice patient look me in the eye and say, “Bart, I thank God for my cancer, for had it not been for my cancer, I probably never would have come to faith in Christ.” C.S. Lewis wisely wrote: “Pain is a megaphone that God uses to awaken a deafened world.” As much as we hate suffering and pain, it sure gets our attention. The truth is, if nothing ever went wrong, and life was always exactly as we wanted, most of us would never think about God or eternity. Sometimes it takes a crisis or deep pain to show us our need of God. It is God’s “severe mercy.” It is severe but also merciful of God to do it.

In scripture it says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:13) God’s antidote to fear is faith. As we learn to place our trust in God, we discover that God is far bigger than any problem or fear we have. It is possible to experience His peace even in the midst of life’s storms.

Have you ever stopped to think that if nothing ever went wrong, and life was peaches and cream, that most of us would never think about God or eternity. God wouldn’t even be on our radar. Sometimes it takes a deep pain to show us our need of God. It is God’s “severe mercy.” It may seem severe and harsh of God, yet if that is what it takes to bring us to faith then it is His mercy.

Covid may have sped up the process of dying for some, but latest statistics say that 100% of us will die. What it has done is forced us to face this fact. As a hospice chaplain I want to let you in on a little secret: what we believe directly affects how we die! I have seen it over and over. For example, as a rule, atheists and those with fear-based religions do not die very well. On the other hand, those who have a faith deeply rooted in the grace, love, and forgiveness of God both live and die better. I pray that the photos, quotes, stories, humor, and prayers in my book, Hope in the Dark, will help you find that hope.