The Value of Trials

Good morning. It is Saturday, April 11, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is verdant. This is an adjective which means, “green in tint or color,” “green with growing plants,” or “unripe in experience or judgment : green.”

Today is Pet Day. It’s a good day to take extra good care of your pet(s) and show them how much you love them. Here is my favorite pet, Trixie.

Trixie
Trixie

I just got off the phone with my mother, a few minutes ago. I’m ambiguous about the conversation. While not bad news, the news is not terribly encouraging, either. My dad seems more confused, this morning, but, on the plus side, ate a little more than he has been eating. He thought he was at home when the doctor asked him if he knew where he was. He also has a 101 degree temperature, this morning, which they believe may be the result of a bladder infection. This would make sense, as he has had trouble using the bathroom, recently. They have taken blood and urine samples, and took him for another CAT scan, this morning. We will likely see my mother after church, this evening, and have more information on what is going on with my dad. It’s not great news, but not horrible, either, at least at this time. My mother felt better after talking to me on the phone. She is hanging in there, if just barely.

Not much else to write about, personally. I worked ten hours yesterday, which was pretty much expected since I missed Thursday. At this point, we are planning to go to church, this evening. There are some things that we need to do before, some of which Christi is going out to do right now.

I’m struggling to be into this at all, today.

It was on this date in 1965, which happened to be Palm Sunday, that 51 tornadoes struck six Midwestern states, killing 256 people.

Today’s birthdays include Ethel Kennedy (Robert F.’s widow), Anton Lavey (founder of Church of Satan), Joel Grey (singer/actor), Brynn Hartman (murdered Phil), Bret Saberhagen (pitcher), Jason Varitek (Red Sox catcher), Trot Nixon (Red Sox player), Tricia Helfer (actress), Mark Teixeira (baseball player), and Joss Stone (singer).

Jason Varitek is a retired baseball player. He was one of my favorites on the 2004 Red Sox team that won their first World Series in 86 years. He was born on this date in 1972, making him a mere 43 years old. Here is a fan made You Tube tribute that includes some very special moments of a very special career.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:7-12

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “The Great King’s Wine.”

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

Have you ever heard someone say, “The really deep lessons of my life have come through times of ease and comfort?” Me, neither. On the other hand, have you heard someone say something like this? “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him, has come through suffering.” That is much more likely. Personally, I’m learning quite a bit right now.

Consider Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8: Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. In recent years, there has been a popular phrase, “No pain, no gain.” (I prefer the version that says, “No pain, no pain,” myself.) But we might also paraphrase the verse as saying, “Now let it all be sacrificed, if it will get me more of Christ.”

Hebrews 5:8 tells us, Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. In Hebrews 4:15, quoted above, we learn that he never sinned. Learning obedience does not mean that one necessarily switches from disobedience to obedience. Rather, it means, “growing deeper and deeper with God in the experience of obedience. It means experiencing depths of yieldedness to God that would not have been otherwise demanded. This is what came through suffering. No pain, no gain.”

“Samuel Rutherford said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction, he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there. Charles Spurgeon said, ‘They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.'”

What strange creatures we are. “If we have health and peace and time to love, it is a thin and hasty thing. But if we are dying, love is a deep, slow river of inexpressible joy, and we can scarcely endure to give it up.” With this in mind, we should heed the words of the brother of our Lord. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. (James 1:2)

Father, what a timely reading for me, today. I thank you for this. I am not going through anything that has not been experienced by myriads before me. At this point, I still have my father. But on Wednesday afternoon, I was face-to-face with the possibility of losing him very soon. This knowledge makes me step back and evaluate some things. What is important? What is not so important? I have a strong feeling that the answer to both of these questions is going to change drastically. I know one thing: My relationship with you in Christ Jesus is of the utmost importance, either way. I thank you for preserving me. I thank you for calling me and making my salvation and election sure! I pray that your Spirit will enable and empower me to chase after you with all my might!

Give my mother strength! May your Spirit help to hold her together. Help us to be strong for her. We are ready to put a lot of our life stuff on hold to help them. We still must work our jobs, but everything else can pretty much wait, if necessary. I pray for healing for my father. Again, I pray, your will be done on earth as in heaven. We know that there will be no sickness in heaven. Therefore we ask that you would bring some of that “no sickness” to earth today. I pray for my dad’s mind to refocus and be clear. And even if it takes a while for recover, I pray that recovery will happen. Help us to be patient with you, as well. You make all things beautiful in your time.

I pray for our worship and prayer gatherings tonight. May your name be lifted high and be glorified in all we do.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we remember, when we are going through trials and suffering, that these are part of the path to riches in glory in Christ Jesus. In the words of Joe South, “I beg your pardon . . . I never promised you a rose garden.”

James-1-2-3-web

Grace and peace, friends.

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