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When Thanksgiving comes around each year, it brings to my mind a very special young man who showed me the real meaning of trusting God.
Two months before Thanksgiving in 2000, I was told that the Sutton family from our church had a seventeen year old son that had inoperable cancer and was not going to live long. I decided to visit this family and see if I could help out in any way. As I was heading over to the house to visit and meet Chris, I remember wondering what I could say to this young man who was dying. It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do. I entered the house and found Chris lying on a hospital bed in the family room with his mother by his side. He looked up as I came in and gave me an awesome smile. Then suddenly as if reading my mind he looked right at me and said, “Don’t worry about me. I’m going home to Jesus and I am not afraid”. His calmness and sense of joy took me by surprise. He was working on a present that he wanted to give to someone who was special to him and he asked me for my opinion. It didn’t seem to affect his enthusiasm that he was weak or that his one eye was patched because the cancer, now in his brain, had damaged the eye. Amazingly, Chris still seemed to radiate hope and light despite the fact that the cancer was destroying his body.
I found out later that Chris never wavered in his faith despite the pain and the treatments he had to endure. He continued to encourage the young people of the church to trust in Jesus and many came to believe because of him. He stayed strong to the end even writing an encouraging eulogy that he wanted read at his funeral. His bible was engraved with the words, “No fears, no regrets” and that was how he lived. Shortly before his death he asked his mother to order a sword to be put in his coffin with him. Chris always trusted in the sword of the Spirit of God and even in death he wanted to honor the Savior that he loved so much.
On Thanksgiving day, 2000, Chris Sutton went home to be with the Lord. His years on this earth were so short but the legacy of faith that he left will live on until the Lord comes back. To the ending hours of his life, Chris never feared dying and never stopped trusting in Jesus. He understood so well what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. The peace that was with him to the end could only be from God and he taught me that this peace is for anyone who has put their faith in the finished work of the cross.
Each Thanksgiving when I reflect on all that God has done, I remember and give thanks for Chris Sutton who proved that Jesus is with us at all times. Not even the throes of death can steal the joy of a true believer for God’s love will be with you to the end.
God is with you now. He knows your fears and will be all that you need.
I am praying now for all those who needed to hear this message.