A man was walking thoughtfully through his garden when he saw a bird’s nest on the ground. A mighty storm had just passed through. The nest had been destroyed by the violent shaking of the trees. The man was saddened at the sight of the nest, but when he looked up, he noticed how the birds in the branches were already building a new nest. That made him think. It was as if someone said to him: “Do not despair!”
Dear reader, your past may not be pleasant. Perhaps you see it broken, lying on the ground, lost. Do not let it lead you to despair. You don’t need to walk hopelessly through life. Jesus is there for people like you. He extends His hand to you to begin a new life. –
A middle-aged woman walked slowly and wearily along the banks of the Rhine. She looked around timidly, while her lips murmured in a monologue: “Tomorrow! Today I will choose a good place, and then I’ll slowly glide under the water. Then it’ll be still, finally still!”
The forest thinned out, the stream rushed past broadly and majestically. Soon she found a spot, shaded by thick bushes. The woman sat down so that the tips of her shoes reached into the water and continued her monologue: “It just can’t go on like this anymore….”
During the night, she found time to put all her affairs in order and to write kind farewell words to her sick husband in the clinic. In the morning, she turned the key to the apartment, put it in her pocket, and walked out of the house with a steady pace.
There! What was that? Sounds from a morning church service! A tremor went through her body. She paused, considered, and said to herself: “I would still like to hear my funeral sermon, so that I will not die as an unbeliever.”
“Christ lives! He can help!” it sounded out to the attentive listeners. “He did not come just to make your circumstances better, but to save you from sin. For sin is the ruin of men. Whoever finds and has Christ as Savior does not need to despair. He has the strength to always be victorious in the many struggles in life.” There was a bit of restlessness in one corner of the room. The preacher did not notice. At the end of the service, he announced that there would be a special meeting that afternoon. A guest speaker would be present.
Before the final song, the suicidal woman hurried out, confused and agitated. The sermon hadn’t really suited her plan. For hours, she wandered about outside without being able to make a firm decision. At last, she returned to town. She wanted to first listen to the message that afternoon, and only afterwards go into the water.
After a brisk congregational hymn, a brief prayer, and a well-performed choir song, the address came, simple and biblical. Single sentences penetrated her heart like arrows. “Christ walks through time and through insignificant, personal human lives. You can experience Him, find Him, have Him – but only through repentance in sincere self-judgment. Tears of repentance brighten the eyes for His glory. Anyone who remains proud, still quarreling with his fate, and lashing outward instead of turning inward will never find Him. Why do people complain in life? Everyone should complain against their sins. Those who do not recognize their guilt and refuse to humble themselves will sink into eternal darkness.”
That was by no means a funeral sermon. Our friend pushed her way out and away, but not to her place on the Rhine – she had completely forgotten about that – but home. The farewell letter to her husband was still on the table. There was dead silence all around. Only her heart beat loud and fast. An agonizing unrest burned in her soul. The seriousness of eternity settled on the lonely woman’s mind. Fear of God tightened her chest. And then that mysterious and yet-so-clear voice began to speak to her. Only those who have heard it know it.
“You put all the blame on relentless fate. Isn’t sin also your ruin? Neither on the day of your engagement nor on the morning of your wedding did you seriously think of Me, your Lord and God. You have never bent your knees together in marriage. How often have sins happened, minor, major, secret – you have always disregarded the accusations of your conscience. You had neither time nor interest for Me and My kingdom. Whether I spoke to you in gentle love or asked for admission in times of suffering, you did not want to understand Me, and kept the door of your heart locked. Your greatest sin is that you have remained without a Savior to this day. And now you want to throw away the precious life that I gave you like an old garment? See, you are about to commit the greatest sin.”
When the night came to an end and the first rays of the morning sun fell through the window, they illuminated a repentant woman who lay on her knees, bathed in tears, begging for mercy and receiving mercy. The heated battle led to the peace of God, which is greater than our understanding. With a new heart confident of His forgiveness, she straightened up, not to die, but to live and to proclaim the Lord’s works. The difficulties of life had not disappeared, but above them stood the Lord, who can and will always help. Yes, He certainly helps all who trust Him.
And the farewell letter on the table? It was torn to shreds with firm hands. Instead of saying goodbye to her husband, she wrote another letter and openly shared with him what she had been going through lately, what she had had in mind, and how the grace of God sought and found her in the “twelfth hour.” She was only worried about the impression the letter would make on him. But when the answer came, the woman could hardly contain herself with astonishment, amazement, and joy.
Her husband wrote: “I, too, was on the verge of despair. Nobody could help me but God. When I didn’t know what to do, when I was in dire straits, I saw a couple of devotional pages on the table. I eagerly read the short tracts that spoke of our sin and the grace of God, got on my knees, prayed as I had never prayed before, and was heard. Dear wife, my sins are forgiven, too. I am certain that my Savior will touch my body and heal me and give me grace to a new life – as well as you….”
Human words are too limited to describe the feelings and joy that animated the hearts of the spouses when, after the husband’s return home, they bowed their knees together for the first time to worship the Savior and thank Him for His love, for seeking and finding them.
Yes, for those who start over with Jesus, there is great hope!