This is a story of a piano teacher who was affectionately known as Herman. One night at a university concert, a distinguished piano player suddenly became ill while performing an extremely difficult piece. No sooner had the artist retired from the stage when Herman rose from his seat in the audience, walked on stage, sat down at the piano and with great mastery completed the performance.

"Later that evening, at a party, one of the students asked Herman how he was able to perform such a demanding piece so beautifully without notice and with no rehearsal. He replied, 'In 1939, when I was a budding young concert pianist, I was arrested and placed in a Nazi concentration camp. Putting it mildly, the future looked bleak. But I knew that in order to keep the flicker of hope alive that I might someday play again, I needed to practice every day. I began by fingering a piece from my repertoire on my bare board bed late one night.

The next night I added a second piece and soon I was running through my entire repertoire. I did this every night for five years. It so happens that the piece I played tonight at the concert hall was part of that repertoire. That constant practice is what kept my hope alive. Everyday I renewed my hope that I would one day be able to play my music again on a real piano, and in freedom.'"

I'm sure that some of our readers at this time are facing great hardships and may even be in peril for their life. The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to experience great hardships, shipwreck, whippings, and being thrown into prison for his faith. He was the one who wrote today's Scripture verse encouraging the Christians in Rome (who, if they weren't going through persecution at the time, would soon be) to find encouragement and hope in the Word of God. May you and I do the same.

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