By Dan Flynn
I came to St. Luke in 2003 and worked with Byron for the last ten years. We became closer in the last couple of years when both of us realized we were patriarchs on the staff (note: the old guys). I valued Byron’s friendship and all of his stories he told from farming, to the navy, to his conversion to Christianity. It is this faith that shaped Byron and impacted all of us around him. This day, I praise God for that hopeful faith.
Hope is that quality that sees a possibility. Hope drives us to look ahead and believes things will be better when we are in the midst of suffering. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We do have a certainty that Christ was born, lived, died, and resurrected. He walked as we walked and died as we will die. And, most important, He conquered the grave. The empty tomb gives a hope that goes beyond all understanding. We have that faith, as the writer to Hebrews says, “faith is being sure of what we hope for…” Byron carried that same hope. He shared it openly and believed deeply in the promise we cannot see.
The empty tomb gives a hope that goes beyond all understanding.
This doesn’t take away the questions. I have looked at God and asked the question we all ask, “Why?” In any kind of suffering, we are pushed to the why and can get stuck in the why and the hopelessness that can evolve from the question. It is that “why” question that the world around us hangs on and pushes us away from the faith in Christ that assures us God is with us. What is striking is that we (and the world for that matter) doesn’t ask “why do we have joy?” “Why do we have all the goodness?” “Why is there happiness?” God grants us a full and celebrative life.
Byron married a wonderful woman and raised three amazing daughters who married very fine men. Bryon certainly loved his kids and there is no question of his deep love for his grandchildren. Two years ago our staff had a party at the Porisch house before Christmas. Byron had purchased a remote controlled balloon, a fish. There he sat in his living room flying this fish around and he wouldn’t give up the remote. Byron knew joy and laughter and he knew that the gift came from God.
Does God work through our suffering? Yes. Absolutely. Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5 verses that I’m not fond of but are true, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. AND HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT US, because God has poured out his love into our hearts….” And II Corinthians 12:9. Paul writes, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Byron’s suffering pushes all of us back to the One who created us and pushes us back to Jesus.
In Jesus we do have hope and we know the grave has been robbed. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life…” It is His Word and His promise to all of us in the midst of our suffering. Byron testified to this kind of faith in community. We believers suffer and mourn in community. We are called to be in faithful community (Book of Acts) and share the joys and suffering together.
My friends, grieve openly. I will. Mourn the loss of a good friend and, and for me, a partner in the ministry. It is the way it is suppose to be, but we don’t stop there. Our Hope pushes us to the empty tomb and for believers this is the way it is suppose to be as well.
Here is a song about the hope we have in Christ and how, even in this time of mourning, we can turn to songs of praise.
“Our God Saves” by Paul Baloche