Laughter on the Pathway of Lament

When we read about women in the Bible, there’s a tendency to flatten them out into cardboard characters, one-dimensional and distant.  Kate Merrick was in that camp as well, intimidated by the fabulous woman of Proverbs 31, judging Bathsheba, missing the depth of Mary’s sacrifice in saying yes to God, and brushing Sarah off as that old lady who had a baby.

Then, her nine-year-old daughter died of cancer.

Desperate for moorings in an ocean of loss, Kate looked to the Truth of Scripture and found there a community of women who had suffered as she was suffering.  When she delved into their stories, her collision course with bitterness and despair slowly turned toward joy and peaceful acceptance of the will of God.  In And Still She Laughs, Kate Merrick is still writing from that liminal place between tangible grief and the new normal that finds its way to the surface, so her words are raw and real, and just about right for me in these days following the death of my mum.

Like breaking in a new pair of jeans, like the bathing suit that fits everyone differently, like a water balloon that if you let just a little bit out it might explode on everyone, Kate employs multiple metaphors to bring her readers into the world that opened up to her when she joined the ranks of the bereaved.  Still longing for the old jeans, and having realized that grief looks different on everyone, she encourages readers to throw her book across the room if it helps — and then to come back to it later at a different stage of grieving.

A Path Through Grief

Since a Western understanding of living “blessed” only served to drive Kate further into bitterness, she turned to the stories of biblical women, for whether one reads Bathsheba as roof-top temptress or helpless victim, the ultimate outcome of King David’s moral lapse was the loss of their baby son.  Bathsheba’s story became a virtual grief support group for Kate since so many of their story-points coincided:

When I was the only woman I knew who had experienced death so close to my heart, I remember how she had too.  . . She whispered strength, dignity, and fearlessness.  When I was comforted with a pregnancy, I remembered that she had been too.  She showed me how to be loyal to another child while grieving the first.  She held my hand in the gloom, leaned close to my ear and whispered, ‘Me too.'”

Then there was the dawning realization that, like Sarah, grief and bitterness were leading Kate toward a “bitter, hardened laughter, like a waste product of a sick heart.”  Sarah’s Old Testament story sounds idyllic from a distance:  remarkable beauty, a godly husband with unlimited assets, a bevy of servants, and exotic travel opportunities — and Kate is convinced that Sarah “was covered in swanky accessories.”  (Sure, why not?)  But then, there were the empty arms, and the seemingly empty promises of God:  Sarah had waited so long that even good news elicited bitterness, bubbling forth in a sneering laugh alone in her tent.

Opening the heart to a journey of grief puts a mother in company with Mary, who demonstrated that a yes to God can lead to a sword through the heart.

“The yes doesn’t always make sense.  We don’t fully understand how God works, but we read in 2 Corinthians 1:20: ‘For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for his glory.”

Ultimately, Kate realized that her bitterness was directed toward God.  She had lost sight of the truth that, in her suffering, Jesus was suffering with her.  In the midst of our own Romans 8 groaning, we need to hear, again and again, that we are foreigners on this planet, but we do not grieve without hope.  Like Mary, Bathsheba, and Sarah, we are citizens of heaven and live in anticipation of a day in which death will be swallowed up in life, the empty arms of grieving mums will be filled, and the laughter our hearts long for will never end.

//

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

You can read an excerpt from And Still She Laughs and check out the book trailer here at Ann Voskamp’s place.  

There’s lots more of Kate Merrick’s great story telling here on her own blog.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

 

A Story of Waiting

Twenty minutes on ice.
Twenty minutes on my feet.
Then back to the couch and the ice pack —  and that was how I made it through the early days of mothering.  Degenerative disc disease and pregnancy make for some painful and complicated logistics when they converge, but, oddly, it’s not the pain I remember most. What I remember most clearly is the frustration of being limited and the discipline of resting that was required for healing.  The real suffering seemed to be in the waiting.

Anyone with a chronic condition of any type is familiar with the rhythms of hope and despair that go with waiting.  Ann Swindell was diagnosed at the age of eleven with trichotillomania, defined by the American Journal of Psychiatry as a “poorly understood disorder characterized by repetitive hair pulling that leads to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment.”  It is inexplicable and incurable, and it remains part of Ann’s life as she writes Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want.

Ann lays her own story and struggle alongside the biblical account of the Bleeding Woman in Mark 5.  Remember the story?  After waiting — and bleeding, and consulting experts and spending all her net worth on cures that fell flat — for twelve years, this woman came to Jesus, depleted and out of options.  She was miraculously healed, and this is where her story and Ann’s diverge.  Nonetheless, Ann feels a special kinship with the Bleeding Woman simply because of the shared brokenness of waiting and of clinging to hope.

Waiting Is Part of the Groaning

Paul’s soaring words about hope and redemption in Romans 8 do not bypass the truth that all of creation deals with brokenness in some way — and, therefore, we wait.  And while we wait because of this general and widespread brokenness, it is also true that we are broken because we are waiting.  Underneath all the good that was happening in her growing up years and into young adulthood, Ann struggled with the shame and desperation that centered around a pair of hands that would not stop pulling out eyelashes and eyebrows — in spite of resolutions and wearing gloves and goggles and wrapping tape around her fingers.

There’s a misconception in the 21st century church that we can be “#strong” by ourselves, that all weakness is evil, and that healing is God’s will in every situation.  It’s a pretty insupportable position in light of Paul’s words in II Corinthians 12:9:

 “And [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

When Waiting Is All You Can Do

From experience, Ann offers principles that allow believers to experience the freedom of waiting well:

  1.  Lay down the false notion that you can fix yourself.  Waiting well requires a surrender of the illusion of control and self-sufficiency.
  2. Do not “create your identity around what you don’t have.”  Even though it is tempting to fixate on lack, whether it is infertility or singleness or a chronic condition, the believer’s true identity is tied up in Christ who names and claims and loves. Until Ann stopped thinking of herself as damaged goods, she could not share her burden and receive the compassion of others.
  3. Relinquish what God has withheld.  I was so happy to find Elisabeth Elliot’s wisdom shared in the pages of Still Waiting:  “. . . the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray:  Thy will be done.” (96)
  4. Allow a soft heart to protect you from bitterness.  Making the choice to be offended by God’s sovereign will “puts us in the judgment seat over God.” (105) Ann found that the understanding and kindness of others and the Truth she found in Scripture were key to accepting the will of God in assigning to her this particular trial, this particular chronic condition, this particular set of challenges and temptations to despair.
  5. Scorn shame.  As Jesus took the cross, he silenced shame once and for all.  By confiding in a few safe people and by embracing the strong truth of Romans 8:1, Ann began to live in light of God’s love and acceptance even in the midst of the daily struggle.

Standing with Those Who Wait

Whenever authors share a unique journey of living with and overcoming obstacles, readers come away with insights that make us more sensitive to the pain of others as well as helpful ways of responding.  One of the chief sources of pain in managing a chronic condition is loneliness.  That would have been particularly true of the Bleeding Woman in Scripture, but it is clear from her actions that, somehow, she had managed to keep a shred of hope alive that kept her thinking, “If I can just get close to Jesus . . .”  Encouragement to draw near to God will make it easier for those who are waiting to let Him worry about the outcome.  Our unconditional acceptance and friendship may be the very thing that makes the presence of God palpable to those who wait.

Those of us who live a following life are characterized by waiting.  Although healed spiritually, every believer waits in hope for the gift of full restoration.  We serve an “on time God” — not an “on demand God” and our waiting is best managed through a focused attention on the next step of obedience in the present.  As we come alongside those who are dealing with a painful and open-ended season of waiting, may we find grace to understand that our waiting cultivates longing for all that God has in store for us.  In the meantime,  it’s o.k. to keep on asking God for the healing our hearts long for — as we remind one another that God is trustworthy, even when the answer we receive is, “Wait.”

//

This book was provided by Tyndale Momentum, the nonfiction imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

//

Along with reading Still Waiting, I enjoyed getting to know Ann through listening to a couple of podcasts in which she was interviewed by the host.  

On Living a Redeemed Life, Holly Barrett and Ann chatted about her background and writing career.  It was a delightful visit!

In Melanie Dale’s podcast, Lighten Up, the conversation centered around Ann’s struggles with trichotillomania and her advice for writers in developing a unique voice.

//

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Ten Thousand Truths

In my gratitude journal, you will not find the words “back pain” or “dead air conditioner in the mini-van.”  And even though I have read (and re-read) the Beatitudes, I am in a season of mourning deeply over the advancing dementia of a dear friend — and I’m not feeling the least bit blessed by it.

Clearly, my perspective needs adjusting, and, according to author Mark Yaconelli, I am not alone.  As a society, we are intolerant of anything that reminds us that we are not in control, and, instead of viewing failure, disappointment, loss, or frustration as gifts which open our hearts to the caring ministry of others and the heightened spiritual insights that come from a closer following, we become disoriented, cynical, shame-filled, or resentful toward our difficulties.

Even so, The Gift of Hard Things with its gritty and delightful truth-telling makes no claim to spiritual alchemy — there are no magical words that will convert suffering into joy.  Even so,  Yaconelli’s  stories offer a thin place where the gap between my desire to avoid suffering at all cost and God’s desire to use it to deepen my capacity for love and generosity stops feeling so wildly uncrossable.

I was captivated by Mark’s prayer service disaster story:  his careful preparation, his thoughtful attention to every detail, and his thorough marketing of the new campus ministry.  How could it be that not one college student — not one! — ever attended that service?  The disappointment of a ministry-crash-and-burn flies in the face of all my pat answers about God.  Mark’s too:

“Deep down, we believe if we pray, follow the Ten Commandments, and work hard, God will grant us a successful life.”

He admits,”My life has never matched my expectations,” and even though the prayer service continues three years later (sans college students), the experience was primarily a lesson in spiritual poverty and an invitation to examine his expectations for their source:  culture? family? personal need?  It is only through a long re-learning that we may begin to sit in gratitude for what has been given, but it is the path away from disappointment and resentment.

Henry Ward Beecher, 19th century social reformer, wrote:

“God sends ten thousand truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away.”

Without a doubt, a goodly portion of God’s ten thousand truths come in the form of suffering.  I miss the point of the song He is trying to sing into my life when I concentrate on simply getting through the trial without looking for the lyrics of healing that are carried on the melody of affliction.  The aim of The Gift of Hard Things is for readers to find in the gift of difficult people, in the blessing of disappointment, or in the bracing realization of our own brokenness the reality of being met in the midst of that frailty with a strength that is not our own.  It is only in this strength that I am able to rejoice in the truth that God is fluent in the language of lament.  His psalm-singers have given us the lyrics, and the human condition provides the material.  By faith, we add our stories to the narrative flow, and by grace we are used of God to reveal that the very things that catch us off guard have actually been placed in our path with a purpose.

In choosing to believe the truth of this, my story is altered, because even when my circumstances careen out of control, I still get to choose “whether [my] helplessness draws [me] toward or away from prayer.”  Mark goes on to say that we get to “choose whether our grief deepens our empathy or sours us into resentment.  We get to choose whether to allow the difficulties we have suffered to break or expand us.”  With this wisdom, I am encouraged to point my divining rod toward Hope, and to hang on for the journey of discovering grace where I least expect it.

//

This book was provided by IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Pain, Emotion, and God

Elisabeth Elliot coined the most memorable definition of human suffering that I have ever heard:  “Suffering is wanting what you don’t have — or having what you don’t want.”  These words came to mind often as I read Between Pain and Grace, because Gerald W. Peterman and Andrew J. Schmutzer have initiated a fresh conversation which does not claim to be the last word on suffering, but is characterized by the scope, depth, and fidelity one would expect from two of Moody Bible Institute’s theology professors.

My attention was arrested immediately by the authors’ careful distinction between pain and suffering.  Consider this:

Pain  — “primarily objective, external, and typically social or physical as opposed to personal and mental.”
Suffering — “primarily subjective, internal, and typically mental or emotional.”

This distinction is important because not all pain is received as suffering — just ask an Olympic gymnast or a brand-new mum.  Conversely, those with leprosy or diabetic neuropathy would welcome pain as a means to alleviate the suffering that occurs when they injure their insensitive extremities.  Dr. Eric Cassell chimes in with the succinct conclusion that “the only way to learn whether suffering is present is to ask the sufferer.”

A biblical theology of suffering must include the truth that Scripture provides a voice for those who suffer; it acknowledges the reality of innocent suffering; and, without moralizing, it affirms the presence of God in the midst of pain.   I never tire of hearing the truth that God is fluent in the language of lament.  He has graciously appointed “script writers” in the psalms and prophets, and throughout Scripture, honest expressions of grief are portrayed as a “natural exhale of worship.”

Because a lively faith is open to the uncomfortable questions and painful stories of those who suffer, the church gathered must be clear in its identity as a safe place for the expression of grief and disappointment. Counselors, individuals dealing with dysfunctional families, and  those who have experienced sexual abuse or who are dealing in some way with mental illness will appreciate the authors’ frank discussion of these topics as they relate to what the Scripture says about pain and suffering.

The term “relational ecosystem” runs as a theme throughout Between Pain and Grace, affirming the fact that there is no such thing as a private or contained sin.  The relational ecosystem of God’s creation has been shaken to its roots by sin, and this is seen at every level:
God with mankind;
man with woman;
humanity with animals;
and humanity with the ground.
Brokenness abounds and the outcome is alienation.  Anger sends out generational shock waves that are amply illustrated in Old Testament family dysfunction.  Peterman and Schmutzer refer to David’s family life as a “relational debris field,” acknowledging that we all are part of “interlocking relationships” that surround us “like the rings of a tree.”

Our relational ecosystem, tangled as it is in personal weakness and sin (another fascinating distinction that the authors delineate), demonstrates the efficacy of the redemption that comes to us in the midst of our brokenness.  Because God Himself chose a path of vulnerability for His Son, the record of Scripture is that God experiences pain and “a theology of a suffering God is evident throughout the testimony of Scripture.”  God’s transcendence is balanced by His immanence, as evidenced in His compassionate love, His relatedness with His creation, and His willingness to risk relationally.

Looking at The Lord’s Prayer through the lens of pain gives it a fresh application, for in Matthew 6, Jesus provides a model for prayer in a suffering world, a challenge to transcend our worries and pain by focusing first on “God’s honor, God’s good, and God’s moral requirements.”

Opening one’s life to spiritual leadership roles also opens the door to some unique forms of suffering — rejection, hopelessness, and discontentment.  We follow a Savior who entered into suffering voluntarily.   Peterman and Schmutzer assert that leaders have likewise made that choice, but then offer the encouragement that tears shed are part of the leader’s path to Christ-likeness.

Since suffering is unavoidable on a fallen planet, this question is also unavoidable for the thinking believer:  What needs to happen in the space between pain and grace?  For most people (including the Apostle Paul!), it holds a journey of acceptance, a yielding of expectations, and most important of all, a commitment to receive the gift of suffering from the hand of an all-wise and sovereign God.

//

This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

 

 

 

 

 

Silence and Beauty

C.S. Lewis described our world as “the Kingdom of Noise,” and he composed a psalm in the praise of  noise from the pen of Senior Tempter, Screwtape, in his letter to a young apprentice. By contrast, artist Makoto Fujimura praises the beauty of silence particularly in the context of Japanese culture.  “Perhaps in no other culture is a single word so relevant as silence is to Japan.  In Japan, silence is beauty and beauty is silent.”

In his analysis of Shusako Endo’s global best-seller, Silence, Fujimura deals with the book’s uneasy questions about the  nature of suffering,  faith, betrayal, and service to a God who, at times, chooses to remain silent.  Set in the 17th century during a period of intense persecution of Christians, Silence traces the ministry of Father Sebastian Rodrigues, a Portuguese priest who traveled to Japan to investigate rumors that a senior missionary had apostatized under torture.

As a bicultural Japanese American, Makoto Fujimura is uniquely positioned to ponder Endo’s assertion that Christianity is ill-suited to take root in the “mud swamp” of Japan — especially since this is where his own faith journey began.   As an artist who paints using layers of metal and natural pigments to create visual beauty, he is also uniquely qualified to probe the layers of meaning in Endo’s narrative arc.

It would be ideal to read Silence and Beauty in concert with Endo’s novel, but even with a year between my reading of the two books, I found that revisiting the fictional work through Fujimura’s eyes reawakened and deepened my interaction with and appreciation for Silence as a reflection on present-day culture:

  1.  A major theme that recurs throughout Endo’s  Silence, is the trampling of the fumi-e: an icon of Christ which Japanese Christians were forced to step on to show their rejection of the faith.  Silence and Beauty expands on the theme, helping the reader to see that even those of us who are free to do otherwise may find ourselves trampling God and the people most dear to us.   Father Rodrigues’s definition of sin helps me to see Fujimura’s point:

“Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another – to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.”

2.  Fujimura and Endo both ponder the nature of faithfulness.  Am I faithful to Christ if I am publicly disgraced, and yet privately effective in prayer, ministry and relationships? Am I more faithful to Christ if I have a recognized role in society as His representative, but privately have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing to help the people around me? Endo’s Silence was an agonizing read for me with Rodrigues lamenting the silence of God in his own experience while trying to be a spiritual leader in a cultural context that was completely alien to him — all the while with the threat of torture or imprisonment hanging over him.

Of course, I wanted him to come through the testing with triumph and go on to lead a Great Awakening among the Japanese because of his heroic faith. That’s not how it ended, and I’m still trying to reconcile this.

3.  A further theme of Silence and Beauty is the process of making peace with ambiguity.  It is the tendency of Christians (particularly Western Christians) to draw a hard line between faith and doubt — a faith-is-good-doubt-is-bad- dichotomy.  Makoto underlines Endo’s exposé of this flawed logic for, “it does not express faith in God but instead a faith in clarity and, . . . ‘our lust for certainty.'”

4.  As Endo reached back in history to the story of the apostates of the 17th century, Fujimura picks up the thread and carries it forward to his Ground Zero experience on September 11, 2001 with his studio a few blocks away from the World Trade Center.  Just as the fumi-e represents all of our betrayals and our failures of faith, Father Rodrigues’s intense suffering and wrestling with God represents for us all of our personal Ground Zero realities.  Silence and Beauty offers the redemptive truth that it is only through “resilient prayer” and forgiveness that we move through and eventually beyond our trauma.  In the end, then, it is only the Gospel that will heal and transform a heart — or a nation.

//

This book was provided by IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

 

Conversation at the Door

Some of our most important and profound words are said in doorways.  Because someone is leaving, words spoken at the door are often more consequential, more weighty.  Time is short and must not be frittered away.  An entire evening may pass filled with light conversation and meandering stories until it’s time to say goodbye, and suddenly the flow of words gushes into the streambed of relevance.

In Just Show Up, Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn are standing in the door together, and this record of their words is raw and real.  Kara, author of The Hardest Peace, writes from the perspective of a cancer patient in her final days.  (Kara passed away in March 2015 shortly after the book’s completion.)  Jill speaks as a close friend who has offered her hands and her heart in service to Kara and her family.  What emerges from their shared writing is a chronicle of the painful, long good-by called cancer, many reassuring and sometimes humorous stories about the agony and the awkwardness of a friendship in which cancer is the unwanted third wheel, the helplessness of watching a dear friend suffer, and the need for both parties to put all pretense aside and fall into the rhythm of God’s choreography.

This pouring out of words about friendship and suffering would be enough if that was all that lived between the covers of Just Show Up — but it’s not, for in the way of showing up, Jill and Kara learned valuable and practical lessons about loving and saying goodbye:

  • The uncomfortable dance of giving and receiving help can be relieved somewhat by clear communication.  Being specific is key.  For example, rather than vague “call-me-if-you-need-anything” statements, offer to grocery shop, to provide transportation to appointments, to assist children with school projects.
  • When you provide a meal, use disposable dishes.  Suggest that the family place a cooler on the front steps so that meals can be dropped off unobtrusively without impacting family time.  Ask for guidelines on family food preferences and allergies.
  • Don’t visit when you are sick!
  • Put your giftedness at the family’s disposal. If you are a skilled photographer, offer to take pictures of the family.  Put your organizational skills to work managing their mail or other details.
  • Don’t become overwhelmed or neglect your own family responsibilities.  If you add a caring role to your life, subtract something else to make room for it.
  • Mourn the loss of your relationship as it used to be, but then find a new normal.
Jill and Kara drew from the wisdom offered in an LA Times article called “How Not to Say the Wrong Thing,” which described a series of concentric circles with the name of the person who is suffering in the center.  From there, place the names of family and friends with this in mind:  the closer one is to the person who is suffering, the closer their name goes to the center ring.  Using that as a guide, the key is this:  “Comfort in.  Dump out.”  For example, Jill did not complain to Kara’s family at all (about anything), but Kara’s husband was free to be honest with Jill about his struggles and observations regarding Kara’s decline.  As a general rule, if in doubt, err on the side of comforting instead of dumping.
In a way, what we have here is a devastatingly practical book on the theology of suffering and the sovereignty of God.  With tears, protesting the suffering, and mourning the brevity of Kara’s life, both Kara and Jill assert the truth that “suffering is not the absence of God’s goodness.”  Kara’s suffering and the process of dying were the cause for mourning, but also the occasion for finding “the smallest good and expand[ing] on it.”  Kara made the choice to be transparent about her suffering and to live her final days in a community that wrapped her in love and that continues to support and to love her family.  Just Show Up is the story of suffering being redeemed, “of God showing up in the midst of community here on earth.”

This book was provided by David C. Cook in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with these communities on a regular basis:   Looking Up,   Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect, Literacy Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith, The Loft, Words with Winter, Rich Faith Rising, Encourage Me Monday, Tuesday Talk, What to Read Wednesday, Booknificent Thursday, Give Me Grace, Word-filled Wednesday, Three-Word Wednesday

The Burden Is Light

“Even my sink is full today!”  I grouched, pouring another wire basket of tomatoes into the path of the running water.  There were cucumbers on the counter, beans in the garden that needed to be picked . . . and no time to do it all.

I love my garden — although sometimes this is not obvious by my response to its bounty. And this actually casts me in an extremely unflattering light, because it’s a pretty straightforward attitude adjustment that is needed:  Look at the time crunch, the space constraints, the sheer labor of dealing with it all . . . but then shake myself into the realization that this is abundance I am grousing about, a gift from God’s good hand of plenty.

If only my heart were so quick to see the truth about all my “burdens.”

Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish pastor, theologian, and author from the 17th century had this to say:

“How sweet a thing were it for us to make our burdens light by framing our hearts to the burden and making our Lord’s will a law.”

How different the sounds from my kitchen would be if I just got under the load gladly. That “frame of heart” would radically change me, and my perception of the burden.

The Mudroom

Today, I’m over at The Mudroom writing about Disquietude, Distress, and Dread. Can my perspective really make a difference in how well I handle suffering? Join me in The Mudroom to read more . . .


Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with these communities on a regular basis: Looking Up, Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect, Literacy Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith, The Loft, Words with Winter, Rich Faith Rising, Encourage Me Monday, Tuesday Talk, What to Read Wednesday, Booknificent Thursday, Give Me Grace