Hope is an easy word to say but a tough one to live out sometimes. We are living through challenging times and it can be difficult to sustain hope from day to day. Over the past month, we’ve experienced snow, ice, floods, lots of fog, probably cranky children (or spouses), and of course, Omicron. On Monday, January 10, I attended the funeral of my grandfather (in-law). He was 97 years old and lived a full life so the day was filled with mixed emotions, as well as concerns about icy roads at VCS.
My wife’s grandparents moved from the Netherlands to Canada in 1960 with their five children. My wife’s grandfather, Grandpa Lammert Slofstra was a pastor in the Netherlands and then at several Christian Reformed Churches in both Ontario and BC. He deeply loved the Lord, which brings us tremendous hope even in his passing.
The stories we heard about his life were impactful. One that I hadn’t previously heard involved the strict instructions regarding vital elements of every sermon that he gave to his two eldest sons as they studied to become pastors. Grandpa Slofstra made clear to them that every sermon must 1) Point to Jesus, and 2) Preach Jesus with passion!
At the funeral, my family also learned that Grandpa Slofstra was presented with a Certificate of Courage by the Republic of France after WWII. Unbeknownst to us, as a young man Grandpa assisted four French paratroopers who landed on his family’s farm in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. He had never shared this story with us.
Perhaps the most comforting and hope-filled story we heard at the funeral was that even Grandpa Slofstra had doubts about his faith at times. Even he did! As pastor, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he was a man committed to serving Jesus throughout his entire life. He preached the Word week after week in two different continents to numerous congregations, and yet even he had doubts.
Doubt is a common element of faith. Doubt can even stretch and lead to a strengthening of our faith. Doubt is evidence that we are imperfect, and are wrestling with this incredible story of Jesus and the implications of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection on our own lives.
Our faith is not demonstrated by the absence of doubt, but rather, our willingness to follow Jesus despite not having all the answers. As we trust and follow Jesus with our daily decisions, “He will make your paths straight”, says Proverbs 3:6.
A passage from John 10 was a great comfort to Grandpa Slofstra when he was experiencing doubt, especially the last phrase of the verse:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:27-28).
No one will snatch them out of my hand.
How do we help our children know that their imperfections, their mistakes, and their doubts will not cause God to love them any less?
We serve a God who welcomes and seeks out the imperfect and the doubters. How can we help our children to see and experience this welcoming God? It’s not necessary for our kids to achieve perfection in their faith, their school work, or their behaviours in order to be accepted by us. We will show love and care for them regardless of the mistakes they make, because Jesus does the same for us.
Despite the challenges you face during these times, remain steadfast in hope and faithful in prayer, for as Grandpa Slofstra taught us, God has you firmly in his hands, always and forever.
—Jeremy Tinsley, Superintendent