Hereditary, Painful Privilege

My friend knelt beside her 10-year-old son. She was torn between shaking him and crying right along with him. He didn’t want her to know he was crying; she wished she didn’t know.

It’s my fault, she moaned silently.

Wednesday, after our workout, Delaney relayed this story to me. She hadn’t told her husband, and didn’t plan to tell him. He had just returned from a year-long deployment, during which the depression that had been mounting in her since her own childhood collided with the anxiety of being a single parent while he was gone, the fear of losing her husband in battle, the loneliness of establishing “temporary” homes every two years.

“My fears, anxiety and depression must have bubbled over to Tim,” she told me through reserved tears. “I don’t want him to suffer with this the same way I have.” Delaney had bravely shared with me her brief suicidal impulses during the last year. “Selfishly though, I don’t want to deal with him dealing with depression. I scared myself when I registered the thought, I wish I had another son.”

Delaney drudged through the pain in her heart, piling big shovelfuls of muck to the side her pit of despair. It helped to air out the anxiety, before it sucked her down into its tomb. Watching Tim, she feared that she could spiral back into her old depression.

A Bible verse came to me.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Cor. 1:3-7

I am no stranger to depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, despair. In fact, if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, or if you’ve even just selected a random post, you probably understand that most of what I write are the shovelfuls of my own muck, thrown up on the side of my pit to air out my own anxiety.

“Delaney,” I said. “God has specifically prepared you to be Tim’s mom, more perfectly than anyone else. You can empathize with his weakness, comfort him as you have been comforted. You will know the right things to say. You can rest in the fact that God has delivered you from this pit and He will just as assuredly deliver Tim.

“It is absolutely not your fault that he feels this way. It can’t be. Tim is Tim and is in charge of his own decisions and feelings. Besides, if he observed your pain, he will observe your deliverance.”

Actually, I wish I had thought to say all that. I did say most of it, but as usual, when I write, I gain greater understanding of my own thoughts. At the time, I didn’t even know the whole passage, but I looked it up to share with you. Amazingly, in Great-Godness, the whole passage is more relevant than part of it.

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,b about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” 2 Cor. 1:8-11

There is a privilege in pain – it is preparedness. If our prodigy is a blessing, then so is the pain that fills us with the wisdom and understanding to love them fully.

 

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Do Something… or die

I grew up with the understanding that evangelism is important – people need to know that Jesus is not only the assurance of eternal life, but that He makes this life worth living. In the throes of my eating disorder, I was absolutely ready and willing to kill myself, check out, be done with it all. If not for Jesus, who gave me an underlying assurance of hope and peace, I would have died. If starving had not stopped my heart, I would have done it intentionally.

It wasn’t so much that Christians are always saying, “suicide is a sin,” I mean once I’m dead, what do I care? But it was something about this Jesus, something about His companionship in my pain, that made me want to try life one more day, one more day at a time.

Then I married a soldier. My personal soldier isn’t very vulnerable, and it’s been rare when he let me in his private fears. I did notice a heightened sense of mortality and sobering responsibility when he was deployed and in command. He felt the burden of not only his soldiers’ lives but their eternity. He places a great burden on the Army chaplains to do their job boldly and with an acute awareness of the personalities and needs of their audience.

His most recent assignment has been at Arlington Cemetery. Again, a place and situation where he is daily faced with death and often looks into faces of people who clearly have no hope. What then? Can we allow the very men and women who are willing to die for our freedoms – can we allow them to enter the battlefield without having done everything possible to offer them the assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ?

I am an avid reader of Table Talk Magazine. As a subscriber, I was recently made aware of an opportunity to arm our military chaplains with unique resources to share the gospel during deployments and in garrison. Given the recent assaults  on religious freedom in the military, fully arming chaplains with useful resources is both helpful to their efforts and encouraging to them personally.

Here is an opportunity, presented by Ligonier Ministries through their chaplain support program, to care for the souls of soldiers. It’s time we did more than verbally espouse our support for the military, fasten yellow magnets to our cars, or shake a soldier’s hand at church. Care more. Do more. Do something!

GIVE HERE. 

Not Looking for Miracles

Wonders of wonder, miracles of miracles! That’s what we’re talking about this week. I would love to hear your miracles – please send them to me via comments here or feel free to email me personally. Also, if you need a miracle, please let me know. I promise to pray for you.

Let me share the miracle that I mentioned at the beginning of this month:

It was a drizzly, cold Monday morning. We’re still in the fledgling stages of Moms Who TRI. Kristen and I keep reminding each other that God is sovereign over our business’ success – and over the weather. Right now, we’re still training in her backyard, so rainy days effectively cancel our bootcamps.

The bum deal is that I am not omniscient, so I had no idea what the weather would do. I got up early, hustled through my quiet time with the Lord and then at the last minute, Kristen and I agreed, there was no way we could hold Moms Who TRI. So there I was with a whole free morning ahead of me. If you know me at all, you know that’s very disconcerting.

I’m from the Seattle area. I don’t melt. Brave was pacing around my ankles. So, we loaded up in the car and drove to the trails behind South Run RECenter. There’s nothing like a walk in the rain to clear your head. I was actually looking forward to the solitude, but noticed another woman heading toward the trailhead with her dog. Politely, we exchanged greetings and I expected to go our separate ways. God had other plans.

“How are you? How did you come to be walking in the rain this morning?”
“My husband is working out in the gym, but the dog needed to get out.  My husband’s health isn’t such that he should be walking in the rain.”

Then.

“Oh well. I’m going to bear my soul.” Tears filled her eyes and out of the blue, this virtual stranger poured out her heart. “Until the day before yesterday we believed that my husband’s cancer was in remission. He’s been on an experimental drug that made him miserable, but we thought it was working. Then, two days ago, the doctor told us that the cancer has gotten into his cerebrospinal fluid. He may have only a few months to live.”

Oh how my heart broke as this lady continued. I never even got her name as she continued to spill her sorrows. She had already been widowed once. Her children had moved away and her dog was old. “I’m afraid I’m going to be all alone, again.” They had both recently retired at a young age. Looking forward they had dreamed up plans to visit Bulgaria.

I am as uncomfortable as anyone else in these situations. I’ve always thought that I lived a charmed life by most standards. But then… I’ve watched loved ones die of cancer. I’ve been completely alone. I teetered on the edge of divorce. I’ve been suicidal. So perhaps my life hasn’t been so rosy. So where does one find the capacity for empathy and sympathy at the same time? How does one identify and comfort and most importantly, what does one say to another?

“You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” Psalm 73:24

“But don’t worry about what you should say. Say the things God gives you to say at that time. It will not really be you speaking. It will be the Holy Spirit speaking.” Mark 13:11b

Honestly, I said very little. I do know that we talked about Jesus. And at the end of our walk, we still never exchanged names, but this sweet woman pulled me into a hug and whispered, “Thank you. Thank you for being here today.”

I had never planned to be.

I’m only slowly learning that God’s destruction of my plans is for the construction of a miracle.

While Christians Are Being Killed

You know that question: “What were you doing on 9/11?” or: “Do you remember where you were when JFK was shot?”

What were you doing on your last birthday? I was enjoying a good, craft beer with my husband after a nice, normal morning at church. The weather was great, our windows were open, it was pure relaxation. Meanwhile, 6,599 miles away, in Nigeria, 9 members of St. Finbar’s Catholic Church were killed during a not-so-normal 10:30 a.m. church service.

What if there were youth stationed outside your church as security detail during your Sunday morning service? What if those youth had to detain a car loaded with explosives and self-proclaimed martyrs ready to detonate themselves as long as they could take you out with them?

“We attacked simply because it’s a church, and we can decide to attack any other church,” spokesman Abu Qaqa told United Press International (UPI). “We have just started.”

What would you do? A growing number of Nigerian Christians are reaching their limit. They have endured unprovoked attacks against their churches, their homes and their families. “We are tired of turning the other cheek,” one man explained in 2010. That was 2 years ago! Do you hear the echo of Habakkuk 1:2?

“How long, LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’
but you do not save?”

Clergymen gather around the coffins of the victims of the Christmas day bombing at St Theresa Catholic Church Madalla, during a mass funeral for the victims, outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, February 1, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Easter Sunday, I was again in church. We had entertained friends over brunch. I wept in worship, lifting my hands to familiar songs and resting in familiar words from the pulpit. I know that Jesus is omnipresent, I know that He is with me at all times, everywhere, but on Easter Sunday, there was another attack on Christians in Nigeria. This one killed several more people. Why do I imagine that His eyes and heart were drawn passionately toward His hurting people. That must be the definition of filling up the sufferings of Christ (Col. 1:24) He knows their pain personally.

I wonder if Christ will ask us one day, “Where were you when my people were being slaughtered because they dared to gather together and worship me?” What will I tell Him? Where was my heart? Where were my prayers? What are we doing?

Attacks Claimed by Boko Haram

July 2009: Attacks and clashes in Bauchi and Maiduguri leave 800 people dead.
December 2010: Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86 people.
June 26, 2011: Attack on a Maiduguri bar kills 25 people.
August 25, 2011: Attacks on police station in Gombi and two banks kill 12 people.
August 26, 2011: Suicide bomber kills 23 people at U.N. building in Abuja.
November 4, 2011: Damaturu, Potiskum bombings kill 65 people.
December 25, 2011: Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39 people.

taken from: Voice Of America, http://www.voanews.com

 

 

Passing By, published by Jeanne Webster

I follow a wonderful blog called Women’s Window. Recently, Jeanne wrote a stunning, short post. In this brief, true story from last week’s news she captured the essence of a prevalent lie. As a society we are very concerned with our self-awareness, as evidenced by the obsession with yoga and mediation and being “spiritual.”

In fact, this weekend, I passed a couple chatting in Walgreens. On a Sunday afternoon, dressed to the nines, a tall lady turned to the sales clerk and said, “I am spiritual, I don’t consider myself religious.” I don’t know where the conversation started or ended, choosing not to eavesdrop anymore. Well, I did here the guy reply to her in-kind question, “I consider myself complicated.”

I digress. The point I want to make is that biblically, the truth is we should be focused on our other-awareness. I am memorizing a portion of Romans 12 right now and trying expressly to apply it to my marriage. One little excerpt, “Out do one another in showing honor.” If someone (me included) (anyone) had out done themselves in honoring this man, what might have happened? 

Here’s Jeanne’s post. I highly recommend her blog, too. Women’s Window. 

http://womenswindow.com/2011/08/30/passing-by/