Archives For Disappointment

Steve Brandon:

Most Christians, as I can tell, go through a crisis of faith in their lives. By this, I simply mean a time in which they really question the reality of God or of His working in their lives. Sometimes it occurs when people are in their teens. At other times it occurs later in life. The result of these times is either an abandoning of the faith or a strengthened resolve to the realities of the faith.

The Biblical writers are no strangers to such feelings. More than a dozen times, we read the Psalmists expressing their doubts to the Lord saying, “How long?” (For example: Psalm 13:1, 2; 79:5; 94:3). Asaph chronicles his life by saying, “My feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3). Habakkuk said, “How long, O LORD, will I call for help and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2). Job said, “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me. I stand up, and you turn Your attention against me” (Job 30:20).

And yet . . .

Read the rest here.

Are you content?

Amy Scott’s title observes that contentment is “slippery,” and that was enough to get me to read the post. I wasn’t disappointed, and my wife will like it even more.

Yesterday I watched my son ride his bike through the front pasture. He was chasing a cow. At times like these, I’m not sure why I gave him siblings or a dog. We don’t have sidewalks here or else I’m positive he would’ve chosen to ride on that.

I’m glad he didn’t run over the cow. Puzzle, the nice milk cow, is about the only animal on this place who earns her keep. We get almost three gallons of milk from Puzzle on once-a-day (everyday, of course) milking. Even for greedy guts like us, that’s a lot of milkshakes and alfredo sauce. So last night, I called up the dairy across the street to see if they had any bottle calves for sale. They did.

I hung up the phone and yelled for the masses. My kids found a dog collar and leash (actually, they stole one off the calf born last week) and came back home twenty minutes later with a little Jersey bull calf. He’s one week old. Sure, I can’t get a latte where I live, but I can always scrounge up a bottle calf or a moonshiner lickity split. Bonus points if either can stand up.

While my oldest kid peddled after a cow and my younger son took turns walking the new baby calf on a dog leash, Greg and I sat on the porch, and I talked about the sporty convertible I planned to drive one day. Greg swatted a fly.

The car will have leather seats. When I reach for the seat belt buckle, there won’t be any gum wrappers hidden underneath it. There won’t be dog pee on the front right tire. When I open the car door, a bucket of baseballs won’t spill out and I won’t get a ticket for littering for simply wanting to get into my car on a windy day. The tape deck will work.

By then, my kids will have learned not to eat, drink, throw up, or breathe in the car I have to drive. In this universe, my hair won’t be frizzy anymore, and the bank teller won’t be snotty with me. It’ll all be great. I can see it now.

This morning, I had someone tell me that my life was perfect. . .

Read the rest here.

Does God hate Haiti?

Chris —  January 14, 2010 — 1 Comment

Al Mohler:

The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist.

The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims.

Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and densely populated villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic.

In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism — mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult.

Haiti’s history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation’s fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history — including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment.

Read more here.

The Pain of Infertility

Chris —  January 12, 2010 — 1 Comment

One of the worst sorts of suffering that people endure in a fallen world is that of infertility.  Jason Kovacs points to a resource that may help.

Years ago when my wife and I were dealing with infertility the Lord used this article ‘The Bible and the Pain of Infertility by By Kimberly Monroe and Philip Monroe’ to minister to us both deeply. I contacted the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) and they graciously gave permission to make it available. I really believe this will serve many others as it served us in our struggle. This article is also one of the most helpful resources for how to help those dealing with infertility. Click here to download the full pdf.

Here is why this is such an important topic:

In one study, 63% of women who experienced both infertility and divorce rated their infertility as more painful than their divorce. In another study, women who experienced either chronic or life-threatening diseases ranked the emotional pain of infertility at similar levels to that of terminal illness.

Dealing with infertility is hard. Your Godgiven desire to have children is thwarted. As you grow up, people say to you, “When you get married and have your kids….” Everyone assumes fertility.

Click here.

HT: Z

I think the reason many are depressed over the holidays is because they do not know how to interpret the yearnings of their soul.

I don’t suppose that there is anyone who has not experienced yearnings or longings of the soul – Augustine said that he experienced them when he read Plato – -  he felt as though he was looking at a peaceful valley from a wooded ridge – -  a nostalgic feeling — that there was a beautiful place that he couldn’t quite access.

Lewis wrote a great deal about these longings and and called them “joy’ – -but, he didn’t mean simple happiness, but rather a yearning.

“The experience is one of intense longing. It is distinguished from other longings by two things. In the first place, though the sense of want is acute and even painful, yet the mere wanting is felt to be somehow a delight.” See Pilgrim’s Regress, page 7.

The Germans call this longing Sehnsucht (ZANE-zoocht): yearnings and searchings of the soul (Plantinga, Engaging God’s World, 4).

I haven’t heard Bono talk about it recently, but at least in the 80’s U2, “Still hadn’t found what they were looking for.”  That was a song about “sehnsucht.”

Plantinga (page 3) gave this example of sehnsucht, “certain people feel a kind of delicious sadness on what seems to be the last day of summer.”

The Stones called it “satisfaction” and from the sounds of things were very angry they couldn’t get it.

Most feel it at Christmas time, and my point here is that the reason so many are inconsolably depressed is because they don’t know what to do with Sehnsucht: the longings of the soul. 

Borrowing from Lewis, if you don’t know what I am talking about here – – move on to a different blog – – because this one isn’t going to make any sense.

But, if you do know what I mean by these intense longings – – then you will probably agree that more than any other season, at Christmas time we have a yearning for something wonderful that seems just beyond our reach – -

And, it is imperative that these yearnings be properly interpreted.   We must realize that these longings of our soul are a longing for God and they will be ultimately fulfilled only on the New Earth.

So many get in trouble at this time of the year, because they convince themselves that these can be fulfilled now – – and when the yearnings of their soul are not satisfied, then they find themselves mired in depression.

You want to see someone depressed (or sometimes mad)?  Find someone who thought that the longings of their soul would be satisfied by having Christmas done in a particular way – – then when they couldn’t get “any satisfaction,” they looked for someone or some circumstance to blame.

Here is what we must do.  Recognize the longings of the soul for what they are. . . they are not needs that can be met in Christmas 2007 by circumstances or relationships within Creation – – rather, they are signs pointing us to Christ – – as Yancey said, they are “Rumors of Another World.”

Lewis’ testimony is all about how he finally figured out sensucht. . . not that he ever got over it.

“I believe (if the thing were at all worth recording) that the stab, the old bittersweet, has come to me as often and as sharply since my conversion as at any time of my life whatever. But I now know that the experience, considered as a state of my own mind, had never had the kind of importance I once gave it. It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, “look!” The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that sets them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold. ‘We should be at Jerusalem.’ Not, of course, that I don’t catch myself stopping to stare at roadside objects of less importance.” C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy.

Know this at Christmas: Your soul will only find rest in Christ (Psalm 62); what you are longing for is God.  Savor him now – – and be excited on that morning when we will open the present of a New Creation and eternity in his presence (Revelation 21:3-5).

Reposted.

Greg Laurie’s (pastor of Harvest Fellowship in Riverside, California) son Christopher (age 33) died recently in a car accident leaving behind a wife, daughter, and an unborn child.  This is what Pastor Laurie said to his congregation following the accident.

Remember: Every day we pitch our tents one day closer to eternity.  Soon enough we will walk through our own valleys.  It would be well worth your time to watch this.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.  Acts 16:31.

HT: Colossians Three Sixteen

Counseling Resources

Chris —  July 25, 2008 — Leave a comment

If you are struggling with divorce, recovering from child abuse, you are facing death, or a number of other specific counseling problems, I would recommend that you review this series of booklets from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (click here).

If you are part of our church family, I have ordered the whole set.  You can glance at one and see if you are interested.

HT: Justin Taylor (who gives a nice summary of the booklets here).

You can read or watch J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard (click here).  I understand that some of you prefer not to read the Harry Potter novels.  I’ve read only one or two myself.  But, this is worth considering.

Of course, the controversy over Harry is long since over.  But, this Christian author has an interesting pro-Harry perspective.  (Click here for: Looking for God in Harry Potter )

Back to Harvard Yard and the commencement address.  Having experienced spectacular failure at least once in life (though not in the sense of ministry disqualification or moral failure!), I find real wisdom in Rowling’s thoughts and agree with much of what she says, though certainly not everything.

HT: Boing Boing