A Deeper Well of Joy

“I had been searching for joy in the relatively good times of life, now I had to find joy amidst darkness and agony.”
- Margaret Feinberg

Margaret Feinberg’s search for greater joy in the Lord took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with cancer. What she found in the end, though, was that her fearr and pain led to a capacity for even greater joy. This month she released a new book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, pointing readers to a truer understanding of joy and and where it can be found. Margaret reached out to a number of writers and bloggers and asked us to share some thoughts on joy and pain. Here is my contribution.


You know pain. In some capacity, you know it. All of us do. Some have experienced explosions in life that destroyed much of what we love. Others have experienced the slow drip of daily agony. Some have yet to experience great loss personally but have witnessed it up close in the lives of others. In each case the feelings are similar: an ache that does not leave and for which there is no remedy, a gaping hole in the chest sensitive to every breeze, noise, or look.

Sometimes we cause our own pain. We sin and face the consequences. We make a dumb decision and the blowback is intense. We hurt others through our mistakes. Many times pain just seems to happen, though. Someone betrays us. A spouse leaves us. The tests reveal cancer. A loved one dies. Our company restructures us right into unemployment. A fire or storm takes the house. That oncoming car is steered by a man in a drunken stupor.

Regardless, we feel the same. We hurt. We are empty. Often we feel ashamed because of our own fault or the state to which we have been reduced. We fear and 519scN9F3eLworry. It eats us from the inside out. In all we feel as if our very soul is being jackhammered away, ripped apart, leaving nothing but a pit.

We are not wrong; our souls are being ripped apart. But not as we assume, not without hope and not without end. No, all that grinding and tearing and hammering, that gaping hole, it has a purpose.

It is a well. What is a well but a pit? Our pain is the instrument God uses to carve out a greater capacity to fill with His joy. Until it is filled it is a void, a vacancy in our spirits, but once the joy begins to trickle in we find ourselves with a greater volume for it than ever before. People who know little or no pain have puddles of joy, shallow pools easily evaporated or absorbed. Those who know the depths of pain know the depths of a real well, a cool store of joy able to refresh and nourish through any season.

This is more than a psychobabbly, feel good theory. It is a promise to every follower of Jesus. Hebrews 12:7 says “Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?” From there it builds to verse eleven; “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Our pain is discipline from God—not punishment, but training—leading us to something. And it is not discipline like a coach or personal trainer yelling to keep going and reach that goal, but like a loving father seeking to make his children’s lives better and fuller for their happiness and well-being. For those who are willing to be trained, who do not rebel or quit, who withstand the pain and trust God throughout, there is a reward in the end: righteousness and peace. Righteousness reflects more of God’s holiness. And what is peace but the primary ingredient of Joy?

Unlike some pie-in-the-sky, serendipitous, false promise this is a deep realistic acknowledgment of pain and hardship in a fallen world. For that very reason it is hopeful. It deals with the real and promises the work of the Divine in the lives of those who trust. Our pain is not in vain; our emptiness is not pointless. It is the deep pit, the well, God is digging to fill up with peace and joy.

You can find out more about Margaret’s book here or by searching the hashtag #FightBackWithJoy on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. 

photo credit: jsutc?iffe via photopin cc

The Deep Magic of Christmas

Christmas Lights Bokeh

Christmas hurts. “The most wonderful time of the year” is not for many people. And all the sentiment and smiles we can muster do nothing to dull the pain; they merely mask it.

So many have pain in their families. A marriage is tied in knots leaving both spouses twisted and rung out. Children abandon parents and resent them. Parents abuse and harm children.

So many are ill and ailing. The cancer returned. The arthritis aches so constantly what room is left for happiness? They’ll never recover from the accident.

So many have lost so much: jobs or homes or life’s savings. Or maybe they never had it in the first place. Their whole life has been one of destitution, and they don’t know what it is like to buy and give gifts. They simply try to keep the lights on and food on the table.

So many face injustice. So many have been wronged by others: neighbors, family, friends, governments, employers. The injustices of racism and classism insidiously infect our country. Look around and see the injustice rampant in the world. More people are in slavery now than ever in hostory. Children are the toys of perverts. Poor people are exploited. Pain is everywhere.

So many have seen death take away one they love. From stillborn infants to beloved grandparents it is always too soon. Whether they have lived four breaths or four million their life was not full enough. Death is a thief and steals the happiness of millions.

It is no merry Christmas for these, and they are all around us. They are us. We mask it well because, after all, Christmas cheer is the name of the game. But our rote renditions of carols, festooned homes, softly lit trees, delightful baked goods offer no solace. They are reminders of happiness that the hurting cannot feel.

And yet. And yet . . .

His law is love and His gospel is peace

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother

And in His name all oppression shall cease


No more let sins and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground.

He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

What promise is this? One of smiles and parties and lights and carols and gifts and festivities? Good will and giving? Tiny Tim’s magic of Christmas? No, something more, something deeper, something akin to the “deep magic” Aslan spoke of. The magic of Christmas is that of promise come and promise yet fulfilled.

In Christmas there comes healing of hurts, retribution for wrongs, filling of emptiness, and reparation of brokenness. That which is indebted can be redeemed. That which is lost can be found. That is the magic of Christmas.

And his name is Jesus, that tiny one there, wrapped in rough cloth and lying in some hay. He is a king and a sacrifice, perfect at both. He knows all our pain for he lived our life, yet perfectly. He knows our pain because he died our death, yet innocently. And he promises life because death did not, could not, hold Him. And one day he will undo its bonds on us as well, along with all other pain. That is deep magic.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” Revelation 21:1-7 HCSB

Christmas hurts because a time of celebration is tainted or stolen or unattainable, a reminder of what isn’t. But the magic, the deep magic, of Christmas is what it promises, that which has come and that which will come. That baby king will make all things new.

Article originally posted at Vyrso.com.

photo credit: Ian Aberle via photopin cc

Someday It Will Be Worth It

inspiringwallpapers.net-inspiringwallpapers.net__01745_route163_2560x1600 (1)Life is really hard isn’t it?  If you don’t think so, give it a little time.

Paul and Barnabas encouraged the saints to continue in the faith,“saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (AC 14:22).  In 1 Peter 1:6 Peter says believers are “grieved by various trials.” And James tells us: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (1:2).  And Peter tells us not to be surprised when we suffer:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 PE 4:12).

I recently said to someone, “Well, the good news is, when this trial is over there will be another one.”

No, I’m not a pessimist. I’m not an Eeyore.  It’s just that I have found God’s word to be true – God takes us through flames and floods, disappointments and disasters. We live in a fallen world.  Our lives are filled with blessings and peppered with pain.  Sometimes heavily peppered.  Unbelievably peppered.  And God works a ton of good in us through our suffering – he produces humility, perseverance, compassion, and Christlike character in us. He makes us depend on him, weans us from the love of this world and makes us long for heaven.

But the best thing God does in our afflictions now lies ahead – they prepare “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” in heaven (2 CO 4.17). This is how Jesus gives me hope and gets me through. It’s knowing that someday in heaven I’ll be blown away comparing the weight of glory to the “peewee” afflictions I went through. We go through big time pain here.  Some serious sadness, sickness, persecution and hurt. But when we get to heaven we’ll have mountainous rewards. We’ll say, “What in the world is this mountain of glory for?” And the Lord will say, “That’s for the years you were sick.” And we’ll say, “What??? But that was NOTHING compared to THIS! This…this…this mountain of glory makes my suffering look like a grain of sand.”

Someday it will be worth it. Peter tells us:

For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 1 PE 2.6

If we believe in Jesus, and continue to trust him, we won’t be “put to shame.” No one in heaven will say, “Well, this is rather disappointing. Is this all I get for what I went through?” The sight of Jesus’ face alone will compensate more than a million times for every pain and heartbreak we go through now.

You won’t be disappointed. Keep believing in Jesus. Keep hoping in him. Keep clinging to him and abiding in him. Don’t give up, no matter how bad the pain gets. You won’t be put to shame. Keep rejoicing and giving thanks in all things. You can’t imagine your reward and the joys that await you.

Share Your Troubles With Others. But Don’t Forget To Do This…


It’s good?to share?your troubles?with others. But don’t forget to connect your pain to Jesus. ?Here’s what I mean:

I would not want anyone in our church to be fearful to talk about sad?or painful things they are going through. Sometimes we hesitate to share our burdens?because others can be quick to judge or give advice or tell us we should have more faith. Or we don’t talk about our suffering because we don’t want to burden others or sound like we’re complaining. So when someone sincerely inquires, we should tell them honestly what we?re going through.

Usually when people say, “Hi, how are you?” they?re not usually?looking for us to?give them an in-depth report. It’s just a greeting and all they are looking for is for us to reply ?Fine, how are you doing??. But when someone seriously inquires we should tell them. Be honest. If you’re in a lot of pain tell them. If you’re being tempted to fear tell them. Hopefully they will have compassion and genuinely want to bear your burden with you.

But when you talk about your struggles, from time to time connect them to Jesus. In other words bring Jesus into the picture. Try to express some kind of faith or trust in Jesus.

For example you might say, “Thanks for asking. I?ve really been hurting ever since the accident. The pain in my neck has been excruciating and nothing seems to help. But I just keep praying and I believe Jesus is for me and working all this for my good.”

Or, “Our son is really doing poorly. He doesn?t appear to be saved. He?s gotten into drugs and I am really sad and I?m really concerned about him. But I know Jesus loves him even more than I do and I’m just continuing to pray that the Lord will save him.”

I’m not advocating putting on a fake smile and giving a robotic Pollyanna I feel good-I feel great-I feel wonderful kind of happy Christian response that doesn?t admit to suffering. Neither am I saying we should mention the Lord every single time someone asks us how we?re doing. But I think it?s good to make connections to Jesus and express our faith. Especially so in our private times with the Lord.

Years ago I spent a lot of time counseling an individual who had no problem pouring out complaints and talking about how miserable their life was. And I was sympathetic to this person?s afflictions as were many others. The only problem was this individual never seemed to connect their pain or struggles to Jesus. They never mentioned anything about believing that God is good or faithful or that he would use their suffering for his glory. They just constantly complained about their misery and how hard their life was.

Don’t fall off the horse on either side. Don’t try to bear your pain all alone. Share your pain. Especially when someone sincerely inquires. But connect your pain to Jesus from time to time. Join your?faith in Jesus to your honest report of your suffering. Express both your pain and your trust in Jesus.

What The Arrows Of Affliction Prepare Us For


“Do you feel marked for sorrow? Are you the target of the arrows of affliction? Are you punished more than others? Do not sorrow. The arrows of affliction are sent by covenant love to prepare you for a special work that will yield great blessing from your Heavenly Father.” ? CH Spurgeon

Our heavenly Father does a thousand things through the hard times he takes us through. He increasingly shapes us into the likeness of Christ. He creates humble dependence upon him. And in the fires and floods he draws near to comfort us. He?s the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. Many times I?ve cried out to him for his comfort, and have found it true that he comforts us in all our affliction. Our sad times and hard times aren?t wasted. Our Father also prepares us to be vessels of comfort for others.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ?s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. ?If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 CO 1:3-7

When someone’s?been through something it makes their sympathy that much more powerful. When someone who?s never experienced a hard time like the one I?m in offers comfort, I appreciate it, but if someone who?s been through a similar experience encourages me it?means so much more.

When I was 26, my younger brother took his life. Numerous times over the years I’ve?been able to comfort people who lost loved ones because I know how it feels.

My wife has suffered with?depression and anxiety for over 20 years and God has used her to help and?strengthen?many.

Parents who have challenges with their children can sympathize and encourage other parents with kids who aren’t doing well. If we never have any challenges with our kids it?s easy to become proud and not understand what other parents are going through. We can think that if those other parents just did the right things, their kids would turn out good like ours. But when we?ve been through the pain and sadness of a rebellious child, we?re much more sympathetic to other parents and much less likely to judge them.

A police officer friend told me that before a policeman is allowed to use a taser he himself must first be tasered.

When we’ve?seen God?s faithfulness to us in our afflictions, then we’ll?be in a good position to promise?others that God will be faithful to them in theirs.

And Paul says that when we suffer we’ll be able to?comfort those in ANY affliction ? even though we don?t experience their exact pain, we know what it is to suffer and we know what it is to find God’s comfort in that suffering.

Your pain isn?t meaningless. God has a great work ahead for you. ?The arrows of affliction are sent by covenant love to prepare you for a special work that will yield great blessing from your Heavenly Father.”

Ever Wish You Could Grow Wings And Just Fly Away?

fly away

Ever feel like David and just wish you could fly away?

And I say, ?Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness PS 55:6-7

There have been times I?ve felt like that. I?ve wished I could sprout wings and fly far away. I?ve wished I could move to some distant town where nobody knew me, change my name, and start a new life. I?ve wished I could escape from problems and pain and sadness and dealing with people and hole up in a cabin in the woods somewhere.

But there?s really no escaping sadness and pain in this life. There have been times I?ve felt like quitting. Felt like giving up my faith in Jesus. But every time I have, Jesus? question to Peter and Peter?s answer comes ringing in my ears:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ?Do you want to go away as well?? Simon Peter answered him, ?Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.? John 6:66-69

Where else would I go? Jesus has the words of eternal life. And I have come to know that he is the Messiah, the Savior, the Way the Truth and the Life. Where else am I going to go? Back to the bars? Back to my life of sin? Back to the world – that broken empty well that promises happiness but never delivers? Am I going to go to some other religion? I can?t do that. I know the truth. Where else am I going to go? I know that Jesus is my only hope. As much pain as I might be in at the moment, I know that he is my only refuge.

It?s easy to have faith when things are going great. It?s easy to praise God and be thankful when all is going our way. But to trust and praise him in the midst of affliction brings him so much glory. When we suffer, especially in the midst of tragedy and intense pain, we can feel like doing what Job?s wife suggested: ?Curse God and die.? Or we can respond like Job: ?Though he slay me, yet will I praise him.?

In my forty years as a Christian, I?ve seen believers respond to tragedy and tough times both ways. I?ve seen some become bitter, lose their faith, and stop following Jesus, saying how could a good God allow this? How could a loving God allow me to go through such pain? God didn?t answer my prayers. I believed in him but he didn?t come through.

I?ve also seen believers go through horrific tragedies and yet despite unimaginable sadness, yet through their tears, still lift their voices to Jesus in praise and declare that Jesus is sovereign, wise, loving and good. What glory they bring to God as they lift their hands in worship, even as tears stream down their cheeks. How they honor the Lord! I can?t wait to see the day when Jesus wipes every tear from their eyes and crowns them with glory. And if an angel standing by asks ?Why didn?t you give up on Jesus? Why did you keep praising and trusting him?? they?ll answer ?Where else would I have gone? Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God, my Lord, my King. He was my only hope.?

Where else are you going to go?

Jesus is the fountain of life. Every other ?fountain? is an empty well. Every other road is a dead end. Pour out your grief to Jesus. Pour out your complaint to him. Ask him your questions. Ask him why you have to go through what you have to go through. Yet resolve to say, ?Where else would I go, Jesus? You have the words of eternal life. You are my only hope.? Ask Jesus for comfort and peace. Ask him to bear your sadness. And ask him for grace to praise him in the midst of your affliction.

There?s nowhere else to go. So cling to the one whose everlasting arms of love are upholding you. Run to the one who truly knows your pain and longs to comfort you. Run to the one who is your refuge and strength, your very present help in trouble. Run to the one who has the words of eternal life.

7 Benefits Of Going Through Hard Times


Everything God does in our lives is for our benefit, including suffering. ?Though they never seem pleasant at the time, hard times produce wonderful benefits in our lives. On Monday I mentioned one benefit – affliction drives us to God?s word. Here are seven more benefits of suffering:

Affliction drives us to God in prayer

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. James 5:13

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. PS 107:6

When the sun?s shining and everything?s going our way, we don?t feel our need for God. But desperate times lead to desperate prayer. When we?re helpless to change our situation, we cry out to our Savior, who delivers us from our distress.

Affliction humbles us

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 2 CO 12:7

Afflictions remind us of how fragile we are. It keeps us lowly. Reminds us that everything we have is a gift. Pride leads to a fall, but God gives grace to the humble. Affliction positions us to receive grace.

Affliction makes us rely on Christ?s power

But he said to me, ?My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.? Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 CO 12:9

When we realize how powerless we are, then Jesus can display his might in our lives. When we?ve exhausted all our own resources Jesus rides in at just the right moment, like the hero in a movie who comes to rescue someone as the train is bearing down on them.

Affliction brings us the comfort of God himself

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…, 2 Co 1:3

As well meaning as others are, there are times when no human words can comfort. But God himself comforts us when we cry out to him in our pain. The God of ALL COMFORT, the one who knows exactly what our broken hearts need, comforts us in ALL our affliction. The One who fashioned our hearts, who knows our every drop of sadness, knows the exact medicine we need to comfort us.

Affliction gives us compassion for others

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Co 1:3

When someone else has been through the same thing, their words can really comfort us. Though your pain is horrific now, someday God will use you to bring his comfort to someone else who suffers the fury of depression or the agony of a child who rebels like yours.

Affliction produces endurance and patience

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, RO 5:3

The only way to get patience and endurance is by being placed in situations that require it. But it will be worth it in the end, because it is by patiently enduring in faith that we?ll enter heaven.

Affliction reminds us that this world is not our home

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. HEB 13:14

As many blessings as this world has, it?s not our home. Affliction weans us from this world, reminds us how transitory it is, and makes us long for heaven, for that day when we?ll see Jesus face to face and he will personally wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Bless the Lord oh my soul and forget none of his benefits. Especially those benefits he brings?us through hard times.

The Thing We Need Most When Life’s Storms Are Raging


John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, wrote a letter he called ?The Benefits of Affliction,? in which in which he says one benefit of affliction is that it drives us to God?s word. Or at least it should. When we suffer, there is nothing we need more than God?s word. Nothing has carried me through life?s storms like God?s promises. In Psalm 119:49 the Psalmist says:

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.

Whether we?re weathering a tempest or plodding through a desert we need hope, and nothing gives us hope like God?s Word. He pledges to be with us when we pass through floods and flames. He guarantees he?ll give us a future and a hope. He promises to comfort and strengthen, to be faithful, and watch over us day and night. He says he?ll hear our cries, give us peace and all we need. He assures us he never makes a promise he can?t keep and he?ll never change his mind about a promise he?s made.

When we suffer we need God?s word to remind us that we have a sympathetic high priest who lives to intercede for us. That we have a friend closer than a brother, who?s been through what we?re going through and knows what it?s like.

Here?s what to do when the wind is howling all around us:

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;b
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

In these verses Jeremiah says the key to having ?hope? is to ?call to mind? the truth of God?s Word. To intentionally recall that God?s love and mercies never cease but are new every day. To call to mind God?s great faithfulness. If we never take in God?s truth, we won?t have it to call to mind when the storm hits.

There is nothing we need more in affliction than God?s word. We need to remind ourselves of Scripture?s bedrock truths that God is sovereign, loving and wise. We need to take ourselves by the collar, and shout to our doubts: Hey self! Nothing is too hard for God. His arm is not too short to save. He is near to the broken hearted. Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. It says so in his Word!

In affliction we must cling to God?s Word, because this is where Satan attacks. ?Did God really say?..?? was how he challenged Eve and he uses the same tactic today. He tries to get us to doubt the truth of Scripture. Is God really faithful? Does he really care? You sure he hasn?t abandoned you??.The antidote is to take up the shield of faith to extinguish these fiery darts. And where does faith come from? From hearing – and hearing from God?s word.

The best thing we can do to prepare for affliction is to take in, meditate on, and memorize God?s word. And the best thing in the midst of affliction is to do the same. The temptation in tough times is to turn to other things than the Lord for relief. Let your pain drive you to God?s word.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. PS 119.67, 71

I Can?t Do Anything For God

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Sometimes believers find themselves in situations where they are powerless to do anything but wait for God. Laid out in a sickbed or stuck in a wheelchair. Completely dependent on others. I?ve heard believers say, I feel so weak. I can?t really do anything for others. I feel like I?m not doing anything for God. If that?s you, I hope I can encourage you.

What can we do when God strips away our health, strength or mobility? Over the years I?ve known a number of believers who, though they were unable to ?do? much for God because they were sick, really did so much that glorified him. Here?s what I?ve seen them do, and what I hope I could do by God?s grace should I find myself in their shoes.

Trust God

In the middle of unfathomable weakness and agony Job said, ?Though he slay me, I will hope in him? or ?I will trust in him.? (Job 13:15)

It?s easy to trust God when the sun?s shining and birds are singing, but it really glorifies him when we trust him in the dark valley. When Satan shoots his fiery dart and says, ?God has abandoned you. God won?t be faithful to you? it honors God when we say, even if I die, I will continue to hope in him!

Tell others to trust God

A few years ago, a friend of mine was declining with Lou Gehrig?s disease. He?d been a jazz musician but now could play no instrument. But he invited all his fellow musicians to stop by and see him before he died, and he shared the gospel with them, even as he had when he was healthy.


Hope leads to endurance, and endurance glorifies God. In the parable of the sower Jesus said some receive the word with joy, but when things get tough they fall away. Job?s wife said to him, ?Curse God and die. Give up this pipe dream of a God who loves you.? But he said to her,?”You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?? (Job 2:10). Though he could do nothing else, Job glorified God by enduring.


Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. (James 5:13)

When we pray in our pain we show we believe God to be a God of love and compassion, a God of power who helps his people. Like hope and endurance, prayer is another expression of trust that glorifies God.


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Php 4:4.

We don?t rejoice in the evil of our affliction; we rejoice in the Lord. ?Rejoice? doesn?t mean ?feel happy.? It is a conscious decision to praise God despite our feelings. We can rejoice that he saved us and nothing can separate us from his love. We can give thanks that he causes all our pain to produce the character of Christ in us. We can be glad we have an imperishable inheritance and someday Jesus will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Believers who trust God, endure and rejoice in him despite unbelievable pain are true heroes. Maybe you are one of these ?heroes.? You don?t feel like one, but I hope you know how much your faith and perseverance pleases God. You?re doing a lot. And I can?t wait to see your rewards in heaven.

Wasting Away In OldManville


What happened?

I feel like I’m about 23 years old mentally. Hopefully I have a little more wisdom than I did at age 23, but I don’t feel “old” in my mind. Then I look in the mirror in the morning. Who is that wrinkled guy gaping back at me? Yep, I’m old. ?I used to sing “Old man, look at my life” by Neil Young. ?Now I is one. ?When I turned 64 this January I sang the Beatles song to my wife, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” ?She said no.

I try not to act old though. I try not to say “Consarn it!” or “Dagnabit!” too often. ?I try not to call teenagers “whippersnappers.” ?I let people know how hip and cool I am by saying things like, “You like that new song by the Mumford Sons?”

God has been kind to me. Overall my health is pretty good. But I’ve got to face it ? I’m wasting away. I’m not as strong as I used to be. I lifted some heavy bags a few weeks ago and my arm has been sore ever since. I got a stent two years ago and now take blood thinner and blood pressure meds. I’m not ready for my wife to put me into a home yet, though she threatens to do so every once in a while. But the truth is, I’m aging. I’m wasting away.

But it doesn’t depress me. Maybe if I was in constant pain or suffering a debilitating disease I’d be discouraged. And that would be understandable. But simply getting older and weaker doesn’t discourage me. My bald spot is getting bigger. My beard is getting grayer. My skin is getting looser. My muscles are sagging, despite attempting to do push-ups and crunches regularly. But I’m okay with it.

Not long ago someone said to me, “Getting old is hell.” It would be hellish if you thought this life was it. It would be depressing to waste away, lose your strength and abilities. To fear you might fall down and not be able to get up. To be confined to a wheelchair. But believers who suffer in these ways have Christ and hope in him. Those without Christ have no hope. ?In that case, wasting away is hellish.

Truth is, sooner or later, all of us will waste away. ?But though believers in Jesus decline physically just like everyone else, we have hope. Paul says in 2 CO 4:16-18:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Paul doesn’t deny that we age, get sick and go downhill. But he says this doesn’t cause believers to lose heart. Why not? Because “our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Every day God makes us more like Jesus. He transforms us from one degree of glory to another (2 CO 3:18). And our suffering in this life, even the suffering that comes with aging, is but momentary and light compared to the eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison that our afflictions are preparing.

The secret to not losing heart is this – it’s what we look to. If we look to the things of this life – things that are seen – to make us happy or satisfy us – things like our health, our looks, our strength – we will lose heart. Because these things are transient. Passing. Fading. Destined to go away. We can’t keep them. We can’t keep our youth. We can’t keep our looks. So Paul says, “we look not to” these things. ?Instead, we look to the things that are unseen – eternal things. We look Jesus and our heavenly Father. We meditate on God’s holiness, majesty, goodness, mercy, glory, power, love and faithfulness. We look forward to heaven. When we look to these things we don’t lose heart. We don’t deny that our outer self is wasting away. But we aren’t depressed when it happens either because we have hope.

Yes, I’m wasting away outwardly. But I see Jesus at work in me day by day. So I don’t lose heart. I may lose my hearing but I don’t lose heart. I lose my hair but I don’t lose hope. ?Praise God for giving us an eternal weight of glory to look forward to.

Consarn it! What’s that sound? Oh, it’s my cell phone. Now where’d I put my trifocals? Oh here they are. Owwww! ?Stabbed myself in the eye! ?What happened? My phone quit ringing. Dagnabit! ?Now I’ll never know who called. ?Oh well. ?Now what did I do with those dentures?

*photo by Tom Hussey