Finding HOPE in the Perseverance of Others
The story of two men whose lives are a portrait of HOPE in the midst of my fight.
Back in 2012, I was introduced to two men who God directed into my life and would change my life in profound ways. We were putting on a conference, but now I realize the entire conference was just a way for God to orchestrate these two warriors into my life. Pastor William E. Hall and Pastor Quentin Mumphery came into my life and have blessed me ever since. So, when cancer hit my life...these men took PRESENCE in my life. They taught me to hit my knees. I’ve been in and around ministry for almost my entire life, but I’ve never been shepherded and pastored more by leaders than Quentin and Will.
Life is a BIG word. Jesus gave up His, so that He might give us ours abundantly. Life is also something that a lot of us take for granted. We forget that it is a vapor. We push our own mortality out of our minds. We find solace in routines and rhythms. We often “post” or talk about the prosperous portions of our lives, but rarely, if at all, do we speak of lack, suffering, and challenge.
I’ve been reading Alia Joy’s book, Glorious Weakness, and she captures this: “So many of us learn early on that lack is embarrassing. Our pain is uncomfortable not just for ourselves but for those around us. Our need is obscene and offensive to a world that prides itself on self-reliance and wide-open smiles. A world where we easily dismiss pain we do not ourselves feel.”
Yet, she counters so well with this: “As Christians, we must develop muscle memory, the rebounding shape of our spiritual fibers, snapping back into place and getting stronger when stretched further and further than we’ve gone before. So many of us let faith atrophy because we don’t truly know God’s character. We’ve never had to completely rely on it and therefore can’t trust that he is good...It’s easy to say God is good when we’re #blessed. We associate God’s favor with a clean bill of health, a flush bank account, and the ability to bless others.”
Listen to her STARK words: “We don’t believe our ability to bless others might result from our poverty.” Those who have known pain, walked through unbelievable struggle can actually be the biggest STAGES for HOPE the world could see.
I know that more than once I’ve forgotten to take James 1 to heart...where it says, “The sun rises and pours its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.”
I can hear some of you, “Pete, that is depressing. Who wants to dwell on that?” But, the most meaningful part of James 1 is what comes next. “Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mightily blessed. For such people, loyally in love with God, the reward is LIFE and more LIFE.”
Life in the vernacular of God is water. When we drink His life in, we never thirst. In other words, regardless of the desert we find ourselves in, we can press on in joy and peace through HOPE. This journey is just beginning and this small thing to Him that is a big thing to us, has not caught Him by surprise.
What God offers us does not grow from our anger...
I don’t know about you, but when I get news about my cancer and it isn’t good, I have a lot of emotions, but one of them is anger. But, if I continue on in James, I hear this: “Post this at every intersection of your life: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” Why? “Because what God offers us does not grow from our anger...In simple humility, let our gardener, our Father, landscape you with His Word, making a rescue-garden of your life.”
The blooms God gives you through trial are blossoms that radiate the beauty of HOPE through our glorious weakness. Simply put, our endurance together, shines light on the LOVE that God offers to ALL. Because HOPE is a spectacle of the peace and joy that paints even our darkest journeys.
Through the past several years, Quentin and Will have not just spoken this to me in many ways, they have lived it. These men, my brothers, have faced challenges that I’ll never know or face...and yet, there is HOPE...active, living HOPE exemplified in their lives. They don’t just say it, they walk it. If I am ever feeling broken because of my circumstances, I do not have to look any further than those two brothers. They’re always pushing me to lean in heavy on God, He can carry me through it all. Their struggles, their pain, their journeys have wrought out a perseverance that shines so brightly on the HOPE found in Jesus. It’s undeniable.
When my vision of God’s love is blurry and I’m letting my disease blind me from seeing it, Quentin and Will bring their tangible presence into my life and the lives of so many others, that by the time they’re done, we see God’s love surrounding us on all sides and it is vivid and clear.
I’m living proof that you cannot fight cancer alone. Shara is living proof that you cannot walk beside your loved one fighting cancer alone. Look around you, God has orchestrated people into your life and their presence can deliver clarity of God’s love and HOPE. We are all called to be those people for one another!
The most beautiful thing about Quentin and Will is this: it’s not about me or them. They show up in the lives of so many people daily. Their vision is bigger...the world! If you want to be encouraged by these brothers of mine, you don’t have to look far. Quentin can be found at pastorq.org. There you will see a life that has been spilled out helping others. You can watch him LIVE at https://www.facebook.com/quentin.mumphery. Will is on FIRE for his city and community. He recently launched https://actsofloveclothing.com/ and every purchase, will extend Acts of Love for young people in shelters, foster care, and orphanages. He brings HOPE to so many with his daily prayers and preaching which you can find at https://www.facebook.com/hall.william. God granted me the honor in this life of knowing them and experiencing their love.
What Will and Quentin push me into every day...
I am staring down a real fight with cancer, and it is one that I am powerless against myself. I know if you’re here on Stages reading this, then you’re in a similar fight or helping someone in that fight. What Will and Quentin push me into every day is that there is a loving God who commanded the storm and seas and they listened. Who, like me, Jesus asked His Father to remove the cross from his circumstances, “Father if it is your will, please let this cup pass from me.” But, then He also showed us all that, when that answer was “No,” He filled his entire body with determination through HOPE and endured the suffering and shame...and death...because He knew this: He will conquer it all! And when He did, He extended that victory to us.
When we slug it out with a disease, a struggle, or a life challenging obstacle that seeks to rob us of HOPE, our vision of God and His love can grow blurry. We can creep towards doubt, towards a feeling of abandonment and “being all alone” in the fight. That exact moment is when warriors like Will and Quentin step in and become a tangible vision of God’s HOPE. Their presence brings focus when HE seems so far away.