Paul Hanson Cockerham, our brother, went to be with the Lord on July 7th. Many of you had the privilege of hearing testimonials at the funeral from Paul’s family and friends, rejoicing in the life and ministry of this faithful servant of Christ. I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my thoughts from one of Paul’s favorite passages of Scripture, Isaiah 40:28-31. These thoughts were the foundation of the message I preached during the funeral.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
As I reflected on this text and Paul’s life, some thoughts came to mind:
- Paul knew what it was like to be strong, active, engaging in outdoor activity, working hard in the workplace and at home.
- Paul knew what it was like to become weary, to be worn out, as he wrestled with cancer on and off for a decade. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and certainly men who are fighting cancer know what it is like to be weary.
- But Paul’s God never grew faint, never grew weary. The text says that His understanding is unsearchable. He is able to handle everything – all of the complexities that baffle us, the suffering and struggles that overwhelm and weaken us – these are known to God and yet He is not overwhelmed or weakened by them. In fact, Psalm 103 says that “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” God is greater than our troubles, is compassionate towards us and is able to craft things in such a way that all things work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus.
We see from the text that the Creator God, the One who never grows faint and never grows weary can and is willing to do something which we cannot do for ourselves:
- He gives power to the faint
- To the one who has no might He gives strength
… and there’s more …
- To the one who is guilty of sin, He gives forgiveness
- To the one who is dead in sin, He gives life
- To the one who is a slave to sin, He gives freedom
- We could not save ourselves, so God sent His only begotten Son.
Brothers and sisters, today Paul is no longer weary, he is no longer faint. The hope of the Gospel is that death gives way to life, that a man weakened and overpowered by cancer will mount up with wings like eagles. Jesus Christ did this first. He suffered, died, was laid in the grave – and then resurrection / life again. Paul now enjoys life without weariness, without fainting, without suffering, without sorrow, without tears, because he knew and trusted the Lord, because he waited for him.
Of course, this hope of mounting up with wings like eagles, this hope that soars, this hope that Paul knew here, and now experiences first hand, that hope is held out for all who remain, for us. May we know the hope that Paul knew, the Christ that he loved and served. May we repent of our sin and believe the good news that Christ died to do that which we could not do for ourselves – to rescue us from the power of sin, to deliver us from the penalty of sin and one day to free us from the presence of sin. May we place our trust, as Paul did, in the Lord Jesus Christ, may we “wait for the Lord,” that one day we too might “mount up with wings like eagles.”