prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates.
pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The Fight for Joy in the Crucible of Adversity: Your Thoughts
If you have been reading the past couple of posts, you know that I have been away for the past couple of days as I traveled to be with my wife and her family.It was a sweet time for Dusti and I, as we were also given extra time to spend with Logan and Delaney (our niece and nephew).For example, we were able to eat lunch with Delaney at school with a cafeteria full of kindergarteners and 1st graders.I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to tell them, “No, it is not a tuma” or sing them a stanza from Adam Sandler’s “Lunch LadyLand.”
Aside from the cokes and jokes, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I can minister to my family and offer them encouragement even while I am away.It is one thing to be there to offer hugs, to dwell together and hear one another’s prayers, or be able to serve in a tangible way.But when you are hours away, (apart from prayer of course) ministry can be a difficult thing to do.To give you a quick update, Kerrie came home from the hospital Friday afternoon and is recovering well.The lymph nodes were removed, and after another visit to the oncologist, she will begin chemotherapy.Let me add that the family is especially thankful for your prayers.
What is true for all of us is the fact that we have all had our own trials and adversities.At one point or another, we feel like we have experienced that valley of the shadow of death.Moreover, those of us in ministry have been with others who have on numerous occasions.Indeed, it is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
Starting tomorrow, I thought I’d share some of the things I have learned from the struggles, valleys, and trials I’ve faced in my own life.The person God has made me has in large part been shaped, chiseled, and refined through various afflictions, and for them I am most grateful.I am reminded of the Psalmist who said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Psalm 119:67-68,71-72).
Before I begin my thoughts, however, I am interested in yours.What has God taught you through the fiery afflictions or adverse storms of life?Got any nuggets of truth or personal words of encouragement you would be willing to share?Any verses that have ministered to you?I ask this because this is simply applying the Word of God when it says that the God of all comfort comforts us so that we may be able to comfort others with the same comfort we have received (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). While the blogosphere has been proven to be a war zone at times, I believe it can also be a place where the balm can be applied and spirits uplifted.
It is a privilege as brothers and sisters in Christ to comfort and minister to one another.We weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.We rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance (Romans 5:3).If we are to an intimate knowledge of our Savior, surely we cannot expect to be exempt from sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians ).
For any and all of you who take up this opportunity to share, let me begin by saying thanks.My family, especially Jeremy and Kerrie really appreciate it.Our family is hopeful and prayerful about the future, and already the family has been overwhelmed by the love and support they have received.And if you are currently going through a difficult time, be it a storm, affliction, or just spiritual depression, please stay tuned.I pray you will be encouraged in the days to come . . .
One last thing to note . . .
and to keep my word, here is a picture of "dress up" where my wife and I joined Logan and Delaney in actin' the fool. Dusti was the high school cheerleader, Delaney was the Roll Tide cheerleader, Logan was the WWF wrestler, and I, well, I was the bald-headed rabbit with a purple fuzzy thing. Logan told me that I looked cool, so that's all that really matters.