History Gives Hope

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Ray read recently that one of the benefits of learning about history is that history gives us hope. I agree. Knowing that people have been through really tough times before helps us know that we can, too.

This photograph of Ray’s grandmother Maggie, his grandfather Earl, and his father Wesley sits on a shelf in my office.

Maggie, Wesley, and Earl Notgrass, 1915

Isn’t it beautiful? The loving gazes of Maggie and Earl as they look upon their firstborn son touch my heart. For all their lives they adored this little boy who would be their only child.

I can’t imagine the pain Maggie must have experienced when both her husband and her then-three-year-old son became ill with the flu during the flu pandemic of 1918. Praise God that they both survived and thrived. Ray’s daddy lived 89 years after that frightening bout with the flu.

I am heartbroken for all of the people who have suffered through the illness and death of their loved ones during this pandemic a century later, while I praise God for sparing Maggie Notgrass the loss of her precious husband and son in 1918.

Maggie, Earl, and Wesley would suffer other great difficulties in their lives, but God spared them that one.

You and I make decisions about how we will live each day of the current crisis. Among the decisions that Ray and I make each day is how to handle our mail. Perhaps Ray and I are silly, but we are being really careful. We let all of our deliveries sit for several days before opening them.

Yesterday I was researching Abigail Adams for a lesson about her in our updated America the Beautiful. Both John Adams and his wife Abigail Smith Adams were born in small communities near Boston. They spent most of their lives in the Boston area. When a smallpox epidemic broke out in Boston, they feared for their young children. John went to Boston to get a smallpox inoculation, a very risky thing to do at the time.

Among the many lasting legacies of John and Abigail Adams are the 1,100 letters they wrote to one another during the many times they had to be apart. In one of those letters during the smallpox epidemic, John cautioned Abigail to make sure each letter was “smoked” before she opened it so that the family wouldn’t be exposed to smallpox.

Well, if future founding father John Adams was cautious with the mail, maybe Ray and I aren’t so silly after all.

Yes, history gives hope for now. God gives hope for forever.

Therefore, having been justified by faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom also we have obtained
our introduction by faith
into this grace in which we stand;
and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
And not only this, but
we also exult in our tribulations,
knowing that tribulation
brings about perseverance;
and perseverance, proven character;
and proven character, hope;
and hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God
has been poured out within our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:1-5


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