This afternoon my friend, Hiep, went to be with his Lord. We sadly farewell him and will miss him. Some of you will know Hiep as the friendly face who greeted you at the door of FOCUS at UC or Crossroads at ANU on a Sunday night. He loved the opportunity to welcome people and shake their hands. Only last Thursday, as Fiona and I sat talking with Hiep, he asked that I pray for God to heal him so he could return to welcoming people into the gatherings at Uni.
Hiep and I shared a very personal journey over the past year or so. We both had lung cancer. We were both non-smokers. We both feared the impact of our disease. Fiona pushed for genetic testing for me and she was able to do the same for Hiep. This led to treatment options that gave him more time with his family and friends.
As we’d meet, on a semi-regular basis, we sought to encourage each other with the hope of eternity. He would spur me on to trust in God, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Hiep was not one to seek distractions or to live in denial. Often he would ask me to turn the television off, and just read a verse or two from the Bible, and pray for him.
Last week I planned to read a few verses from 1 Peter 1:3-9. I’d left my Bible at home, and for some reason my phone Bible got stuck on a paraphrase called The Message, so I read him these words. How apt they were…
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
Hiep shared with me some time back his confident hope beyond cure. He asked if he could contribute his testimony to a future edition of the book! He said, “This is true—this is my hope.” Hiep now has what he has been looking forward to—the realisation of his hope. I can almost picture him extending his hand of greeting, smiling, and offering a heartfelt welcome to people as they enter into the presence of God.