December 31st, 2017
#iCONVICTION (Hope Beyond Sorrow): Cape May County Herald

(Actual Column Online) Recently I was teaching at my church on the topic of “hope in light of hopeless circumstances.” Naturally, I was telling parts of my own story, particularly what was going through my mind after finding out that I was responsible for an at-fault, drunken driving accident where an innocent man was killed.

I was using my experiences to highlight the power of God in our lives, especially when all seems so hopeless.

My parents were in church that day. After church was over, my mom was turning in a ‘response card’ to one of the ushers. 

The woman collecting the cards looked up after seeing my last name on the card and asked, “Are you Matt’s mother?” My mom said when she replied yes, the woman immediately got choked up. 

She explained that through the entire sermon, as a mother, she was wondering about Matt’s mom, and what she must have been thinking when she got the bad news.

Did she think his life was over? Did she feel her family could ever recover from such a blow?

Could she imagine that one day this same son would be in a vibrant church teaching from the pulpit?

Could she ever see this moment in the sorrow?

I have to admit all those same questions resonated in my mind as I once again was blessed to be at the annual “Matt’s Stocking Ministry Wrapping Party,” which recently provided gifts for over 200 local families in need.

You see, the memory of Matt Lassor will always bring me back to God’s hand in my life. 

Matt was killed at the innocent age of 12-years-old in 1997. He was a close childhood friend of mine. When Matt died, I was 13, and I remember in my sorrow and confusion how I could still see all of the lives that were affected and pointed to Christ by his life and, now, even in legacy. 

It was all those years back, that I prayed this specific prayer: “God take my life and use it like Matt’s, even if it means taking my life." I had no idea of the depth of my prayer at the time, until I was in prison and God brought Matt and this prayer back into my mind.

So, as I attended the Matt’s Stocking wrapping party, I couldn’t help but watch Matt’s mom, April Lassor, with her beautiful smiling face. I wondered if she could ever have seen that moment when she received the gut-wrenching news of Matt’s death. 

Did she think she could ever smile again? Did she question how she would go on? Could she visualize the impact her son’s short life on this earth would have on so many people, even this many years later?

And so during this Christmas season, one more mother comes to mind. This mother bore a baby with the promise of Kingship. 

Yet, years later, she found herself standing at the foot of a cross looking up at the broken, battered, lifeless body of her beloved Son. Could she ever have known that He would conquer the grave in three days? 

At that moment, could her mind and heart comprehend fully the hope and salvation His death would usher in for all of mankind?

So the reminder is: No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, never underestimate the power of God to make beauty from our ashes; for Him to rebuild hope from hopelessness; for Him to birth new life out of seeming death; for Him to paint the perfect picture of redemption with the colors of affliction.

Never lose sight, no matter what you are facing, of God’s sovereign hand on and over our lives.

"@mattmaherstory Still inspired and encouraged by you story, shared many weeks ago. Thanks for being passionate about Jesus!"
@KSmithFoundHere Boston, MA
"I'd rather stand alone with Jesus than sit in a crowd without Him."
- Matthew Maher