Mar 13

Have you raised a HALLELUJAH today?

A diagnosis of cancer or any difficult trial brings with it many responses, but “Hallelujah!” is not usually one of them. When I found out my cells had gone awry and allowed cancer to grow inside me, gratefulness was pretty much the last thing I felt. 

But I kept thinking about the admonition in the Bible to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I knew that did not mean I had to be some sort of masochist and praise God for ­every­ awful thing that happened to me. Instead, I believed it meant I could have a thankful heart no matter how depressing my circumstances were.

So a few weeks after my diagnosis in 1990, I began to look for something for which to be thankful. It was one of those conversations between my head and my heart.

Let’s see . . . I have cancer at the age of 36 after taking good care of myself physically. No, ­can’t think of anything worthy of thanks there.

My three little girls may have to grow up without a mother. Nope, that ­doesn’t work either.

My husband already has buried one wife and now has a 60-percent chance he’ll outlive another. Naw, that isn’t inspiring any words of praise.

­I’m going to have to take toxic chemotherapy, when I ­don’t even like to take an aspirin. Not much there to feel grateful about.

Finally, it came to me.

Dr.  Marc Hirsh! I have a Messianic ­Jewish oncologist—who knows, maybe the country’s ­only Messianic ­Jewish oncologist—practicing medicine just seven miles from my home. I humbly bowed my head and heart and for the first time since hearing the dreaded news “you have cancer,” I thanked God in the midst of my circumstance.

“Father, you know I ­don’t feel any thankfulness about my situation, but I want to thank You for leading Dr. Marc Hirsh here to be my physician.”

I can ­only imagine God smiling and saying, “Now you’re getting it. Just wait to see how ­really thankful you’re going to be when you I use this doctor to change your life.”

After that prayer, the rest is history, as they say. (If you want to read the earlier incredible story of Marc’s spiritual journey to faith in Jesus as his Messiah, you’ll have to read my first book, When God & Cancer Meet.) But the short story of our “doctor-patient relationship” is that our families became close friends and in 1996 he and his wife Elizabeth offered me a position in his office as a patient advocate providing emotional and spiritual care to cancer patients and their caregivers. I ­can’t imagine what my life would have been like without being a patient advocate for nearly 20 years.

If you or your loved one have a cancer diagnosis or are facing some other unwanted difficulty, I’m wondering if in the midst of your circumstances you have found a reason to raise a HALLELUJAH–literally “praise song” (hallelu) “God” (Jah)).

I think the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk penned a wonderful example of offering a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) even when everything around him was going wrong:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
And though there are no grapes on the vines;
Even though the olive crop fails,
And the fields lie empty and barren;
Even though the flocks die in the fields,
And the cattle barns are empty,

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Habakkuk 3:17,18

Go ahead, be thankful in all things—even when the hair follicles have no “blossoms,” even though your strength “fails”” and even though your dreams “lie empty and barren.” Go ahead and “Raise a Hallelujah” because a prayer of thanksgiving can unleash the power of God in our lives in amazing ways! (Don’t miss the music video below–open in your browser to view!)

Feb 27

I Choose Joy!

“It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is asleep. The day is coming.

“In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

“For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now I must make a choice… Because of Calvary I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose JOY…

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.

I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker.

I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings created by God.

I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.”

I choose JOY.”
(Excerpted from When God Whispers Your Name, copyright 2009 by Max Lucado)

 Will you choose joy today? If you would like to, but your “funny bone” isn’t working, you need to get it repaired.

I recommend you go to the manufacturer of your life (God). Contact Him on His technical support hotline (prayer) and check out His operating instructions for your life (the Bible). God created you and knows just what you need. I can’t promise God will give you a laugh, but I can promise He will give you His deep-seated joy. It begins by choosing to become a follower of Jesus and it continues day by day by choosing to allow Him to direct your life. Then, and only then, will you find a quiet joy in spite of any circumstance. 

Here’s how Jesus explains it in John 15:11: “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

Will you invite God to be the Lord over your painful circumstances? Will you refuse to doubt that you can make it through? Will you see your irritating friends and relatives as people for whom Jesus died? Will you look at your problems as an incredible opportunity to see God at work? Will you rest in the love of Jesus and be filled with His true joy?

Choose JOY today…because of Calvary you can.
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Please enjoy the music video below “Joy” by For King and Country (open in your browser).

 

Feb 20

Laughter IS Good Medicine!



It’s been said that “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper—it doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it sure does make things more acceptable for a while.”

When was the last time you had a good laugh? (Maybe it was when your hubby and your granddaughter ate seriously blue birthday cake frosting!)

We haven’t had a lot to chuckle about during the past several months. (There’s really nothing funny about four surgeries, a knee infection, six weeks of IV antibiotics, Lyme disease, a broken wrist, a nerve injury, cardiac issues, and never-ending rehab.) But every time we do laugh, it reminds us we’re still alive and that feels really good. In fact I believe that we all need to keep—or—get a sense of humor even in the shadow of  life trials.

Laughter is good for the body. Science is just figuring that out, but the Bible told us that a long time ago.

Proverbs 15:30 says:
“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news makes for good health.”

Proverbs 17:22 reiterates the point:
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

For some people, the ability to laugh comes easily, but for others—especially those going through health issues or emotional struggles—it takes a more effort. If your funny bone could use some strengthening today, here are some suggestions from Endurance with Jan & Dave Dravecky and from me:

  1. Start your own comedy collection of jokes and cartoons. (Do an Internet search for “clean jokes” or read the newspaper and you’ll find some funny cartoons. Post them at your desk or on your fridge so you can remind yourself to laugh.)
  2. Get your groceries and a chuckle by reading some of the tabloid headlines while standing in line. (Pick a long line so you’ll have time to read about things like aliens with anorexia and manure as a miracle cure for arthritis! Of course these papers are a business expense for me as I use the stories in my “laughter” talk 🙂 )
  3. Hang out at greeting card racks and enjoy reading funny cards. (You’ll get a kick out of them yourself and you also can buy one and send it to someone who hasn’t had anything to laugh about for a while.)
  4. Become a humorous people “groupie” by hanging out with funny people. (Either you’re a funny friend or you need one!) 
  5. Make the most of embarrassing moments. (Share your foibles with a trusted friend and have a good laugh together about the time your wig blew off your bald-from-chemo head or you accidentally dropped a pair of your underwear in the Christian bookstore…don’t even ask!)
  6. Listen to Christian comedians on YouTube. (I highly recommend John Crist and Tim Hawkins, both of whom have a delightfully irreverent sense of humor and help us poke fun at ourselves.)

    Laughter is healing medicine, so please take a full prescription of it!

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This little girl in the music video below (be sure to view in your browser) really feels the words of this song: “There ain’t nothin’ gonna steal my joy!”

Feb 13

Ouch! That really hurts!

As I watch the occupational therapist move along the table working on the hands of all of us seated there, I can’t help but be confused by the different ways he handles our injured extremities.

Seated next to me is a young woman less than half my age with a scar on top of her left hand instead of underneath like mine. Mike grasps her hand and begins bending and unbending her fingers. She quickly starts fidgeting in her chair as an anguished expression appears. Soon she obviously is writhing in  pain. I can’t see her toes, but I’m willing to bet they are curling in her sneakers. She never cries out, but I can’t bear to watch. Mike chats away about anything except her hand, seemingly ignoring the obvious agony he’s causing.

Mercifully after a few minutes of manipulation, he stops and the young woman’s face relaxes. Mike slides his stool until he is across the table from me. He grasps my left hand in his, but surprisingly does not inflict pain. Instead, he slowly and carefully moves it. At one point his motion does hurt and as I flinch, he immediately stops and apologizes.

So what gives? Does Mike like me more than the young woman next to me?  Why do I I seem to have it “easier”than the others? And is she wondering why her treatment is so much more difficult than mine?

I’ll answer those questions in a moment, but let me first ask you: Have you ever looked around at others and wondered why they seem to have it “easier” than you do? Have you pondered why their prayers appear to be answered while you’re still waiting on a heavenly response? Have you entertained the thought that maybe God loves them more than He does you?

It is so hard to be in pain (physical or emotional) for weeks, months–maybe even years–and wonder why God doesn’t cut us a break. We look around and see so many whose trials are not nearly as distressing as ours and wonder if God truly cares.

Do you want to know why Mike, a certified hand specialist for more than three decades, treats the young woman and me so differently?

Because he knows what’s best for us.

He knows that this pretty, petite young lady is in law enforcement and needs to be able to effective use both her hands to protect herself and others. Mike is all too cognizant of her need to allow some pain now for a greater gain later.

Conversely, the injured nerve in my hand is not going to improve if it gets aggravated by too much force. It needs time to heal now in order to be more useful later.

Mike has studied hands for many, many years and he knows how best to bring healing to them. I don’t begin to understand the complexities of the human hand, but I trust that our therapist does.

Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” (Isaiah 45:9)

Dear friend, God knows you better than Mike knows hands. The Lord created you and knit together every fiber of your being. He knows how to bring the healing you need.  I don’t begin the understand all the trials you and I are facing, but I trust that our Father does.
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Be sure to open this email in your browser to hear the music video below, “In the Hands of the Potter” by Casting Crowns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 06

Does God Ever Give Us More than We Can Handle?


I had to smile when I read this, considering the incredibly stressful months my husband and I recently have faced with one health crisis after another.

How about you? Does it feel as if God may have overestimated your ability to handle problems? Are you pretty sure that what you’re facing is too much?

Well, I agree.

In fact, I believe that the trials allowed into our lives often are more than we can bear on our own–things like serious illness, financial struggles, relationship conflicts or any other of life’s myriad disappointments .

I consider myself a strong person, but back in 1990 at 36 facing cancer and the fact that my possibility of dying was greater than my possibility of surviving was more than I could face. Worrying about whether my daughters would have to grow up without a mother was way more than I could bear. And fearing that my husband would bury another wife was absolutely more than I could endure.

This is more than I can handle,” I remember telling God, trying not to sound too whiny.

“I know,” He answered. “But it’s not too much for Me.”

That was one of the most freeing things I learned through my cancer journey. It was all right that I sometimes had more than I could handle. That’s when I would see the Bible verse in Philippians 4:13 come true in my life: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I ­didn’t have to reach down inside myself and muster up some super strength. God supernaturally supplied it to me as I trusted in Him.

What a relief!

Even if my own resources were exhausted, God’s would never be.

My strength might be sapped, but He could still move mountains.

Everything could be changing around me, but He was always my Rock.

During those first early dark-days-after-cancer, I often thought of the shepherd boy David as he went into battle against the giant Goliath. Do you know what his battle cry was?  He was the youngest and smallest boy in his family. Goliath was more than nine feet tall. But David’s battle cry was, “I know God can, I know God can.” If you read 1 Samuel 17:47 you’ll hear his exact words: The battle is the Lord’s. That phrase appears many times throughout the Old Testament, and it was what I said to myself as I awoke on most post-diagnosis mornings.“I feel like a little shepherd with a slingshot facing a giant named Cancer, and it is more than I can handle,” I told the Lord. “But I am so glad it is not more than You can handle. The battle belongs to You, Lord. Fight for me and through me. Do what I cannot do on my own.

And He did.

I love how the Apostle Paul describes a time in his life when he was faced with more than he could handle: We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, 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 on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.

What a great message: Stop relying on yourself and learn to rely on God. Your struggles and setbacks, your disappointments and dilemmas are never too much for Him to handle.

Please open the music video below in your browser: “We Will Not Be Shaken” by Brian Johnson.

Jan 23

This isn’t what I had planned…

For weeks I planned this photo of my grandkids in their new, matching Mickey and Minnie jammies we were giving them for Christmas. I envisioned them sitting in order from 8-year-old Bauer down to 1-year-old Mathis, but knew that wasn’t realistic. So I opted for girls on one side (the three of them are definitely “besties”) and boys on the other (with the two older brothers keeping track of their little brothers).

It seemed like a good plan. Who would have thought that asking 4-year-old Callie to put on her Minnie socks would be so traumatic? Or that 6-year-old Benjamin would be exhausted waiting two minutes for us to take the shot? Or that 2-year-old Jack couldn’t face forward for ten seconds?

Oh well, I gave you something to smile about today, right?

This is a humorous example of plans gone awry, but it’s not particularly funny when life plans get sidetracked by health crises, financial struggles, marriage difficulties or other stresses. Believe me, I haven’t been laughing for the past eight months as my husband and I have faced one health ordeal after another.

For him: A failed knee replacement, which led to more surgeries, a long stint in residential rehab,  weeks of daily I.V. antibiotics and another round of PT.  For me: Lyme disease, then a broken wrist requiring surgery and complicated by a nerve injury leading to many months of therapy–still not completed! Oh, and just for good measure, all the “traumas” I’ve faced caused cardiac issues necessitating weeks of heart tests and monitoring (so far everything looks good and it’s “just” supra ventricular tachycardia).

Plans for summer vacation were thrown out the window. Fly fishing outings were shelved. Fall speaking engagements were put on hold and then spring ones, too. Invites to host new friends for dinner were postponed. Desires to start a women’s Bible study were forgotten.

And instead, a new plan was made…trust God even when life isn’t going the way we had planned. My author-friend Carol Kent understands how I feel as she writes in her wonderful new devotional, He Holds My Hand:

“You have an agenda that seems right, and your natural inclination is to develop a strategy that seems practical, predictable, and timely. It’s easier for you to trust Him when everything makes sense and you can foresee a positive outcome. However, there are times when He will interrupt your carefully made plans and ask you to do something that makes no sense.

“Always remember God’s great love for you and His desire to give you opportunities to minister to others along the way. Often, the most important appointment in your day will come disguised as an unwanted disruption. Some people around you need to learn from you, and He will bring others into your life to help you find renewed hope and fresh faith.” #HeHoldsMyHand

OK, Carol, I’m looking forward to my occupational therapy appointment today as a chance to continue talking about spiritual things with my hand specialist while he tries to ease my chronic pain and swelling. And I’m thanking God for dear friends who call and cheer me up just when I need it most.

Has God allowed your plans to be interrupted? Perhaps, you’ll join me in trusting Him while looking for new opportunities to share and receive His great love. The Message paraphrase of Proverbs 3:5,6 makes it clear: Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’S voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

P.S. We never got a good shot of all seven grands together, but here’s a couple pretty sweet ones separately.

Please open the music video below in your browser to enjoy: “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle

Jan 09

Being Optimistic Doesn’t Always Make It Better

 

It’s often said that there are two kinds of people in life: optimists and pessimists. You probably think I’m going to tell you to be an optimist, but I’m not. And that’s because optimism will not always change the inevitable. Take the case of the optimist who fell out of the twelfth-story window. As he went by the fifth-story, he looked around, smiled and said to himself, “So far, so good!” 

I think the best attitude for someone facing cancer or any other serious illness is neither total optimism (without a doubt, I’m going to be cured) nor total pessimism (without a doubt I’m going to die), but realism (without a doubt I have a life-threatening illness and I may or may not get better, so I will plan for both).

When we insist we are going to be cured, we set ourselves up for a terrible defeat if it doesn’t happen. On the other hand, if we insist our situation is hopeless, we already are defeated before we start. I believe it’s best to be realistic and make plans to be financially, emotionally and spiritually ready to depart this life. That’s not giving up. It’s coming to grips with our own mortality, so we can really life fully without the fear of death.

There’s a difference between total optimism and a positive attitude. Total optimism says: “I’m absolutely, positively going to be cured.” A positive attitude says: “I hope and pray and even expect that I’m going to be cured–but even if I’m not, I will not be defeated.”

I’ve seen scores of people who refused to entertain that thought that they might not be cured because they wanted to remain totally optimistic. And when the healing didn’t come, they–and their loved ones–were devastated.  I also know scores of people whose situation was considered medically “hopeless,” but they continued to live life fully and some of them even went on to become cancer-free!

A totally optimistic attitude insists lemons have to get sweeter. A positive attitude adds some sweetener and makes lemonade out of the lemons.

So many things are out of our control when we or our loved ones are facing a serious illness. But we can control our attitude.

Author Chuck Swindoll has a wonderful description of the power of a positive attitude: “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I am that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it. I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important that my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.” 

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 describes our troubled situations well: “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

Your heart needs to find the right attitude—a positive, realistic attitude because God will never abandon you.

Copyright 2002 by Lynn Eib . Excerpted from When God & Cancer Meet, Tyndale House Publishers.

Dec 19

Training Yourself to Be Invincible to Pain

 

Last week I shared with you my pastor’s thoughts on not being consumed with trying to make all our pain go away, but instead learning how to be invincible to it–“incapable of being conquered, overcome or subdued” by it.  Those who accomplish this “are an unstoppable force,” Pastor Brian said.

I’ve been trying to be invincible over the last nine months, which–without going into detail–have been and continue to be a huge health ordeal for my husband and me. Suffice it to say, that next to having cancer and chemo in 1990, this has been the most difficult year of my life.

And unlike Superman I wasn’t born “invincible,” so today I’m sharing some more of Pastor Brian Jones’ “pain” blog including my thoughts at the endHis words (in italics) have been a great reminder to me during this season of suffering and I pray they will be to you too.
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I know this sounds counter-intuitive – but I want to challenge you to pray a prayer of thanks right now for the pain you’re going through.

Thank God for your trials.

Thank Him for the person these trials are helping you become.

Ask Him to help you reinterpret the pain you’re going through, from viewing trials as “signs of His absence” to viewing them as “opportunities for His goodness.” Allow the Holy Spirit to train your mind to be “invincible”–unstoppable–to pain by seeing God’s presence in any and all our circumstances.

Sometimes the goodness of an event can be recognized immediately. Other things like problems with kids or a sickness can take years to put our finger on any silver lining.

And let’s be frank, some events will never be able to be viewed as blessings during our lifetimes. It will take standing next to Jesus Himself and having Him show us the big picture before we’ll be able to make sense of what happened.

Until then, let’s pray for the courage to pick up our crosses instead of walking around them. 
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If you are like me, the last thing you really want to do is pick up a cross. But it’s an action required of all true Christ followers: “Then (Jesus) said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me’.” (Luke 9:23, also Matthew 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34; and Luke 14:27).

I’ll readily admit that when it comes to my health–or my husband’s–I’m “selfish.” My prayers become very self-centered and self-serving: Heal me, Lord. Father, make this go away quickly. Jesus, restore him now (so I don’t have to be a constant caregiver!).

I’m always looking for quick fixes which will make me feel or my loved one better. But what if that’s not the cross God has for me to carry?

What if having to go to physical therapy so often causes me to develop friendships with people who need Jesus?

What if countless doctors’ appointment afford the opportunity for Christ to shine through me in those medical offices?

What if slowing down because of health limitations makes me rely more on the Holy Spirit’s power than my own strength?

What if all this waiting for test results and restored health is designed to help me be still and know that He is God?

What if the blessings I’ve been seeking are not as important as the ones my Heavenly Father has in store?

And as Laura Story sings in the video below: “What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s all for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Brian Jones is the founding Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Royersford, PA, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, and the author of four books. He’s also my pastor and most important of all, a huge Buckeye fan! Connect with him at  https://brianjones.com

Dec 12

Let’s Stop Trying to Make All Our Pain Go Away

 

Guest blog by Brian Jones

Our goal as disciples of Jesus shouldn’t be to eliminate pain.

Our goal should be to craft the kind of life that is invincible to pain.

Those who learn how to be invincible to pain–“incapable of being conquered, overcome or subdued”–are an unstoppable force.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

His challenge wasn’t to seek martyrdom – though that could certainly be part of the faith journey for a few – it was about being willing to endure pain as a disciple for his mission.

For disciples, being invincible to pain means they train themselves to view…

  • cancer as an opportunity
  • depression as a chance to view the world differently
  • work problems as openings to practice virtue
  • financial struggles as occasions to reassess what’s really important
  • relationship problems as a chance to learn something new

    Disciples allow nothing they face to deter them.

Instead of spending their days doing everything in their power to avoid all discomfort, they train themselves to no longer need comfort to function.

Think for a moment about how much of our lives is spent avoiding pain.

How much money have we spent on medications to drown out suffering?

How many vacations have we taken to distract us from our everyday problems?

Going to therapy to quickly stop a heartache instead of partnering with a therapist to teach us to sit with the pain a while and learn from it?

To be honest, I’ve wasted so much of my life trying to avoid pain that I have essentially earned a doctorate in pain avoidance. But that’s changing.

In my latest book Finding Favor: God’s Blessings Beyond Health, Wealth, and Happiness, I share that…“Between the ages of eighteen and forty-two, I could count on one hand the number of times I went to the doctor. But when I turned forty-three, for no apparent reason, I developed a severe neurological condition that triggered nonstop debilitating pain in the back-left base of my head. I went to three different specialists, and they were all baffled. Unable to find a cause, they put me on antiseizure medication.

Over the next five years, I underwent three surgeries, five MRIs, three CAT scans, and more ultrasounds and EKGs than I can remember. I had nine different rounds of medication administered via epidural injections in my back and neck. I lost most of the hearing in my left ear. I gained thirty pounds. I became depressed. I suffered extreme panic attacks. I went on an antidepressant. The pain became so severe that I could only sleep in forty-five-minute stretches before being jolted out of bed in pain.

My life verse throughout all of this was Job 13:15: “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him.”

The turning point for me came when I realized that the Bible teaches that pain can be a blessing.

Pain is to be embraced.

Lessons are to be teased out of these experiences. They come to us to instruct in the way of Jesus.

Suffering makes disciples better, not worse.

One morning I woke up and simply said, “I am completely healed” and began thanking Jesus for what I was going through. Within one year, many of my symptoms disappeared. Those that didn’t have stayed on as my personal trainer in being invincible to pain. What I was truly healed of was my need for comfort above my need for Jesus.

Think about it: if pain can’t stop you, what does the enemy have left to throw at you?

You’re unstoppable.

NEXT WEEK:  PART II: “How to Train Yourself to be Invincible to Pain”

 

Brian is the founding Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Royersford, PA, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, and the author of four books. He’s also my pastor and most important of all, a huge Buckeye fan! Connect with him at  https://brianjones.com

 

Dec 05

Why We All Feel Homesick Sometimes

Everybody feels homesick once in a while. Even our older daughter, a very independent, self-sufficient young woman, admitted she was homesick when she first went away to college

“It was in the fall of my freshman year,” Danielle recalls. “I remember I was homesick for a couple of hours…but it went away.” (I told you she was independent!)

I think many of us can feel a little–or a lot–homesick around the holidays. I know my Indiana daughter and her four kids are homesick for a Pennsylvania Christmas with all the rest of our family, but it won’t happen until Dec. 30.

And even though I have two wonderful daughters and three fabulous grandkids nearby this season, I’m homesick for a childhood California Christmas with my “little” brother and our parents. What I wouldn’t give for another holiday to celebrate with them.

Perhaps you are homesick for a loved one this year too. Or maybe you’re having a hard time facing the holidays because of health issues in your life or your family’s.  Or financial struggles or relationship issues or any number of life trials.  It doesn’t seem “fair” to be struggling at Christmas.

We have dear friends whose 30-something daughter was recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She’ll be getting radiation and chemo as her family prepares to celebrate her baby’s first Christmas. So not fair.

Another dear friend is trying to enjoy holiday festivities for the first time in 47 years without his beautiful wife by his side. So not the way he had imagined his retirement years to be.

Even if you haven’t been grumbling about struggles, you probably have heard plenty of others doing so. Did you know that every complaint is a symptom of homesickness?

Every time we growl that circumstances aren’t fair or we’re disappointed in an outcome or we bemoan how we’ve been treated, we’re acknowledging that we’re homesick.

In fact, we are all homesick for our real home…Heaven.Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God “has planted eternity in the human heart.” We all have an innate longing to live forever in a place where everything is fair, there are no disappointments and we never are mistreated. But we need to embrace the fact that is not going to happen here on earth.  In fact the earth itself, like us, is “homesick” for the way it used to be.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8: “But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”

All this decay and death we–and the earth– are experiencing is not the way it’s “supposed” to be. It doesn’t feel right because it’s not. God’s perfect plan is still to come.

“We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” (Romans 8:23b)

Go ahead and put a “new, healthy body” on your Christmas list, but realize no matter how many remissions and cures we get here and now, one day we will leave these earthen vessels behind and get the new, immortal bodies our Heavenly Father has promised all Christ-followers.

One of the people I look forward to meeting in Heaven is someone I never knew on earth: my paternal great-grandmother May Andrews Peirce. She was a prolific poet and I’d like to think my writing ability came down through her genes. In 1928 when she was nearly 60, she wrote a poem she called “HOME.”

In childhood’s days, our thoughts of Heaven
Are pearly gates, and streets of gold.
But in the gathering years,
When time, within its fading leaf
With eyes, perchance be-dimmed with tears,
And hearts oft’ overwhelmed with grief,
We look beyond the pearly gates,
Beyond the clouds of sin’s dark night,
And see a place where loved ones wait,
A place all beautiful and bright.
And over all, we’ll see the face of Him
Who’ll bring us to our own—
Not to some far-off, distant place.
For Heaven is, after all, just HOME.

To enjoy Chris Tomlin’s “Home” music video, open in your browser or use this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twL3v5r8s6o