Romans 8:37-39 - No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It was the 1930s and a group of friends was sitting at a restaurant sharing sad stories.
One told of the suicide of a once-rich man who could not face financial ruin. Another spoke of recent cuts at the local factory. Still another told of meeting an entire family, which was sleeping, homeless, in the city park. With the telling of each story, the mood of the group darkened.
One of the men, a minister by the name of William Stidger, thought he heard God whisper in his ear: "Why not give thanks for the people who have been a blessing in your life? Why not encourage them in a time which is terrible?"
As Stidger gave the idea some thought, his mind recalled an old school teacher, a lady who had gone out of her way to help him. Stidger sat down and wrote a letter to the elderly lady.
He was surprised at how soon a reply came back. Written with a wobbly hand, the letter began, "My dear Willy."
"Willy"? the man thought to himself. "I'm almost 50 and have lost most of my hair. How long has it been since someone called me 'Willy'?" Willy smiled and kept reading.
This is what the teacher wrote: "My Dear Willy: I can't tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and like the last leaf of autumn, lingering behind. You might want to know that I taught in school for more than fifty years, and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue, cold morning, and it cheered me as nothing has done in many years."
And he wrote another letter: this one to a kindly pastor -- a pastor who had just said an earthly goodbye to his wife.
In two days a letter came back: "My Dear Will: Your letter was so beautiful, so real, that as I sat reading it in my study, tears fell from my eyes, tears of gratitude. Before I realized what I was doing, I rose from my chair and I called my wife's name to share it with her, forgetting she was gone. You'll never know how much your letter has warmed my spirit. I have been walking around in the glow of your letter all day long."
Having told that story, I have to confess this devotion could go a number of different ways. I could talk to you about how it is sad when we forget those who have helped us. I could even talk about how, if we look hard enough, we can find a silver lining in the darkest of clouds.
But this devotion wishes to say that we Christians have been given "Good News of great joy which is for all people" (see Luke 2:10). In the salvation won by the Savior, we have been given forgiveness, hope and the knowledge that, ultimately, we will emerge victorious.
The world may be filled with darkness -- our lives overflowing with difficulties, but in everything we will ultimately enjoy Jesus' great and final victory. That is our good news, and it's worth sharing with others who need to hear "Jesus loves you!"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, You are the Good News which has changed my world. Help me help others to realize nothing in this world can overshadow the joy You bring us in having our sins forgiven and our eternity assured. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries