It is part of my job to send an email to all the families and team members who were part of a Legacy Retreat when someone from that retreat passes away. Sometimes I feel like I am sending out one of those death notification emails every day. It is overwhelming at times. There is so much loss. The loss of someone’s husband or wife. The loss of someone’s mom or dad. That person was someone’s daughter, sister/brother, friend co-worker. But, those of us who have served many IoH families have served some families that, even though they may be at the very end of their earthly life, they still have SO MUCH life.
They have so much hope, joy, and peace, and it is reflected in the way they live and carry themselves. In those situations it is not as hard. The thing that is really hard, beyond the earthly loss, is the families we encounter that don’t have the hope of Christ and don’t have the hope of heaven. They have despair and hopelessness. That is so much worse than the physical death. Many of the families we serve do not have an assurance of eternal life. They might even be granted healing here on earth and get many more years with their loved ones. But, without the hope of heaven and the promise of eternal life they still face a hopelessness and despair that even the deathbed-Christian does not experience.
In Ezekiel 37, God speaks to the prophet Ezekiel and brings him down to a valley, to a low and dark spot. The valley is full of bones. Bones are the last thing left. They represent death. These bones were “very dry bones.” They were thirsty and parched and fragile. God says to Ezekiel, “Can these bones live again?” Interesting question. God is saying, “Can I do immeasurably more than you can imagine? Do you think I can do this? Do you believe me for the impossible?”
Ezekiel, in his wisdom responds, “Oh Sovereign Lord, only you know.” He is acknowledging that God knows all things and is control of all things. Then God said to Ezekiel, “I want you to tell these bones to come back to life.”
Now God could have done this himself, but he chooses to let Ezekiel be part of his miraculous plan. So Ezekiel speaks to the bones and they come together and they form ligaments and tendons and they look like a living thing again. It’s amazing! Then the final step is the breath of life. The bones are living again. God is saying, “Yes! I am able to do more than you can ask or imagine. Look!” God goes on to explain to Ezekiel that the dry dead bones represent the people of Israel. They had lost all hope. They were full of despair. I know some people like that.
I’m reminded of the story in Mark chapter 9 when a father comes to the disciples to heal his son who is full of an evil spirit, and the disciples are unable to heal him. Then Jesus walks up on the scene and the father says, “If you are able to heal my son, please have mercy on us.” Jesus replies “IF I am able?” Then Jesus goes on to explain that he just needs to believe. The father replies, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
I can relate to this. Through Inheritance of Hope I have met many families that are desperate for healing. Not just because their bodies are wasting away, but because their hearts are spiritually dead. That is far worse. Their bones are dry and fragile and thirsty and dark. They have lost all hope. Sometimes it is not the diagnosed parent but the caregiver or the child that is lacking "life." And God is saying to us, “Do you believe that I can bring what is dead back to life? Do you believe me for the impossible? Do you believe that I can breathe life into dry bones?”
At Inheritance of Hope we KNOW God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. We have seen it happen. We trust God. We really do believe, but Lord, help us overcome our unbelief.
Prayer: Lord, you are sovereign. We commit these families to you. We know that you have gone before them. You know their stories better than we do. You love them more than we ever could. We know that you can bring them back to life. Physically, of course, but more than that, spiritually. That you can breathe life into dry bones. You can bring hope where there is hopelessness. You can bring total peace where there was despair. We pray that is what all families experience at Inheritance of Hope. Amen.”
Jill originally shared this devotional with the team of the NYC Legacy Retreat® in November 2019.
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Jill Thompson didn’t give much thought to intentional living until her friend Kristen Milligan was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer at age 30. She had a front row seat as Kristen planned and prepared for her death and was inspired to be as intentional with each day. Kristen rarely missed a single moment to speak truth to her children and to teach, inspire, and encourage others. Because of her intentionality, her life and legacy are still greatly impacting others even 8 years after her death. Jill lives in Florida with her husband and four children and tries to make the most of each and every day, living intentionally as a wife and mom and Inheritance of Hope's Volunteer & Family Legacy Director. Read more posts from Jill >>