By Tom Cash
On November 16, 2007 my wife and I attended the National Missionary Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. Yoon Kwon Chae from the Korean Christian Gospel Mission was preaching. He shared a personal story about the horrors of war.
Chae’s father was a minister imprisoned by the Communists at the beginning of the Korean Conflict. Fearing for their lives, his family went into hiding.
When the U.N. forces took back their town, Chae obtained directions to the prison camp. As he walked to its location, the stench of dead bodies permeated the air long before he arrived. With great difficulty, he started looking at each corpse. They were unrecognizable; he could not identify his father.
Sorrow overwhelmed him. But while walking around the camp, he saw another group of Christians standing near the bodies of their loved ones. Between tears and sobs, they were singing:
There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
to prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore;
in the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.
He walked over to join them. In the midst of this unbelievable carnage, they were inconsolable. But they kept singing. And a transformation occurred. With each repetition of the verse, they looked down less and looked up more. When they finished, they were filled with joy and hope. Yes, they mourned for their loved ones, but they realized the most important thing could not be lost: their relationship to one another through the love of Jesus Christ.
When we are deeply and intimately connected to God, we are able to worship even when it doesn’t make sense. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary was able to worship when the odds seemed against her. She knew God was still in control. What are we to do when there is nothing left to do? Run to the one who gives us the reason to offer praise; run to Jesus!
Tom Cash is the senior minister at First Church of Christ in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He and his wife, Coleeta, have two children and four grandchildren.