Jesus didn’t say we might or we may have tribulation. Jesus said that we will have “tribulation.” Other translations read: “torment,” “trials,” “trouble,” “sufferings,” “distress” or “persecution.”
In this world, we will suffer. In this world, we will lose people we love, sometimes tragically. In this world, we will be injured, sometimes in terrible accidents. In this world, we will be diagnosed with sickness, sometimes with dreadful diseases. In this world, we will have failed relationships, sometimes divorce. Jesus said that in this world suffering is inevitable.
Albert Mosley could certainly testify to this truth.
Albert had just started high school here in Farmville when his father tragically committed suicide. Later, Albert, himself, would be critically injured on the football field. Years later, there would be the sudden and untimely loss of his mother, a risky back surgery, a grim diagnosis of Addison’s disease, broken relationships, the loss his best friend Ronnie Avery, incessant physical pain, diabetes, debilitating strokes and blindness.
Now, if this was the only testimony that Albert Mosley’s life could give, that in this world, we will have tribulation; then today would certainly be a sad and tragic day for all of us. However, the good news is that this was only a small part of Albert’s testimony.
Jesus said: “In this world, you will have tribulation.” Now, let’s read the entirety of this verse: Jesus said: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
After Albert lost his father, Albert did not hesitate to courageously become the man of the house, take care of and look after his mother, his six siblings, maybe especially, his little sister, Donna. Albert resonated with the great song by Clarence Carter, “Patches,” intentionally becoming the one that his family could always depend upon.
In spite of the tragic loss of his father and the increased responsibilities for his family, Albert somehow miraculously managed to excel in school. And in spite of some very good reasons to be bitter and angry, Albert possessed such a sweet and loving disposition that the girls in this town affectionately called him “teddy bear.”
However, I am certain that no one called him a teddy bear on the football field. Albert was an exceptional athlete, a strong, ferocious hitter. Perhaps football became the outlet for some of some of his anger that he had to have harbored. He hit someone so hard one night when Farmville was playing at Ayden, that it put Albert in the hospital where he was in a coma for three weeks.
And yet again, although he had even more reasons to become angry or bitter at life, Albert took heart and persevered.
After he recovered, he finished high school and went on to Atlantic Christian College, where he again continued to excel, earning the prestigious Top Hat Award. After college he went on to get a Masters in Education degree at Old Dominion University. Upon graduation, he taught school briefly until he was quickly promoted to principal.
Later, he became Vice President of the Virginia National Bank in Franklin, Virginia and in 1982 was awarded the “Boss of the Year” Award from the Franklin Jaycees. He was also awarded the #1 Jaycee President Award in the state of Virginia.
Then, as Jesus promised all of us, more tribulation would come to Albert, this time in the form of sickness and disease. However, in spite of every tribulation in his life, Albert always miraculously found a way to persevere, to love his life, and to love others. You could see it on the dance floor when you watched him Shag, Twist or do the Gator. In spite of everything, Albert was still the sweet, pleasant, fun-loving teddy bear.
I met Albert twelve or thirteen years ago. He had retired and moved back to Farmville to be with the family he loved. He had experienced many more ups and downs in his life. I watched him grieve deeply when his friend Ronnie passed away, and I witnessed his health continue to decline. The truth is that I have watched him suffer perhaps more than anyone I know. I cannot count the times I have visited him in the hospital and doubted that he would ever make it home.
Yet, I never heard him, not one time, not even in the hospital or in the nursing home, ever complain or grumble. Even when he lost his eye sight, his ability to walk, his ability to swallow just a sip of Diet Pepsi, Albert remained positive. In fact, I never heard him say anything negative, about himself or anyone for that matter. Even in his darkest moments of life, he loved his life, and loved those who were in his life.
Bro was always more concerned about others, than he was himself, especially his siblings. No matter how sick he was, if you asked him, he was always fine. And then he would ask you about others.
Doctor J,” he would say, lying in the hospital, unable to see, blood sugar over 200; “Have you seen Donna? How’s ol’ Carson and Sara doing? How are things going at the church? I got to get myself straight so I can come back there.”
And nearly every time before I left his side, even in ICU after his debilitating stroke in November, he would miraculously say to me, “Peace be with you.” And the miracle was not only that Albert could speak those words of peace, but was how it was obvious to all that in spite of every tribulation, Albert actually possessed this miraculous peace. And he truly wanted to share it with others.
The only way that can possibly explain how Albert endured the tribulations of his life is that the God of Jesus, somehow, some miraculous way came to Albert, obviously since he was a young boy, and filled him with this peace that surpasses all human understanding.
The disciples of Jesus also knew something about the ups and downs of life. Like a star football player, a teddy bear that the girls adored, or the vice president of a bank, the disciples had experienced some very high moments in life. They were with Jesus when he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and raised the dead. Some of them even went to the mountaintop with Jesus and stood with him in the very presence of God. They rode triumphantly into Jerusalem with Jesus as little children lined the streets waving their palm branches.
And the disciples certainly knew something about tribulation. They were with Jesus when he was arrested in the garden. Some betrayed him. Others denied him. They all deserted him. They had made mistake after mistake, and they knew it. And they watched in horror as the one for whom they left their families and all forms of worldly security be tried, tortured and crucified.
Three days later, John writes that they were cowering in fear in a locked room. Rumors were floating all over town that the body of Jesus had been stolen, and the ones who destroyed Jesus and had taken his body would soon come to destroy and take them.
So, there they were, cowering behind locked doors. They could not have been more afraid. They were not unlike: a small boy who discovers his father’s suicide; a star athlete who is severely injured on a football field; or a well-respected and successful professional whose declining health had stripped nearly everything from him.
Then Jesus comes. We can’t explain how. The doors are locked. The windows are barred. But Jesus somehow, some miraculous way comes; he stands among them, and says: “Peace be with you.”
And this is not some superficial word of peace that denies or overlooks human tribulation and suffering. It is a genuine word of peace that acknowledges the pain of life, recognizes the wounds of today, but also the certain hope of a better tomorrow. Jesus shows them the wounds in his side and in his hands and says again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”
The disciples then went out and lived the rest of their lives sharing the grace and peace of Christ with others. And they shared it to the end, even in the face of great persecution, suffering and death.
This is how I will always remember Bro. Like the first disciples, Albert was an imperfect man who suffered much tribulation in this world. However, although I cannot fully explain it, it was obvious to all that knew him that Jesus, somehow, some miraculous way, came to him. Through the love and faithfulness of his wife Ginny, certainly; through the love of his family and friends, definitely; and through divine and mysterious ways that surpasses all human understanding, Jesus came to him and filled him with this genuine peace, and then, sent him out into the world forgiving others, loving others, sharing the peace of Christ with other.
Days before Albert died, Becky said that Albert asked her if Chester could maybe spend the night with him in the nursing home. Becky said, for the first time, I could tell that he was somewhat afraid. And who would not be? In a nursing home, blind, nearly paralyzed, dying: he had more reasons to be afraid than anyone.
However, Becky said that when Albert breathed his last breath on Tuesday, that she had never seen anything so peaceful. I drove her and Chester home from the nursing home that day, and she kept saying, all the way home, “Thank you God, thank you God.”
The good news for all of us is that we have the certain hope that, once more, when Albert experienced his final tribulation on this earth, somehow, some miraculous way, Jesus once again came to Albert, as Jesus had obviously came so many times before, and lovingly tugged Albert’s ear saying: “Peace be with you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Jesus came to him and filled him once more with a peace that is beyond all understanding, and this time, it is for eternity.
May this wonderful truth give peace to all of us who are still experiencing the tribulations of this world this day, tribulations that will continue in the days ahead. Through the memory of Bro, may we hear the risen Christ speak to us words that cannot be more true: “Peace be with you.”