What Does Suffering Have to Do With Hope?

Faithfulness in the moment is our highest, and sometimes our most difficult, calling. Our assignment in times of waiting, wondering, and every form of suffering is to follow the path of hope.

Sunday Scripture My youngest son leaves for college at the end of August--or at least that's the plan. College in the age of COVID-19 involves a certain amount of uncertainty. To date, four of his seven classes have been declared "remote," but no one has even come close to answering his questions about how one… Continue reading What Does Suffering Have to Do With Hope?

Knowing God in the Midst of Our Pain

"Suffering is never for nothing." ~ Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot offers the most durable definition for suffering I've ever heard: Suffering is Having What You Don't Want -- This covers everything from cancer to a flat tire. Or Wanting What You Don't Have -- A spouse, a child, a new job. Life on a fallen planet includes suffering of all types and intensities,… Continue reading Knowing God in the Midst of Our Pain

A Melody Above the Noise of Your Grief

God sings a song of renewal and restoration within your pain.

Written by real people with genuine feelings--often worn closer to the surface than this stoic New Englander might like--the Bible gives voice to a full range of emotions. There is plenty of joy, lots of celebration, and this has found its way into our worship. However, we are less comfortable with the practice of biblical… Continue reading A Melody Above the Noise of Your Grief

The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

The life and legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

When Ray Rhodes, Jr. was investigating topics for his dissertation, he followed his life long interest in Charles Spurgeon and began to research Spurgeon's marriage and the spiritual element of his relationship with his wife of thirty-six years, Susannah Spurgeon. Surprisingly, his interest led him away from "the prince of preachers" and toward a more… Continue reading The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

When You’re Sitting in the Winter Room

Better to be burned by the Word's searing statements than to dismember it in dangerous denial.

When life sends a hard turn in a direction I am not expecting, all the cracks and flaws in my theology show up.  The wheels come careening off my carefully constructed orthodoxy, leaving me in the ditch with all the prosperity gospel folks or the "Where was God?" finger pointers. When God does not “cooperate”… Continue reading When You’re Sitting in the Winter Room

Pastoral Ministry: The Courageous Calling to a Faithful Love

Pastoral Ministry: The Courageous Calling to a Faithful Love

Ministry professionals rarely lead with their weaknesses. We want church leaders with plenty of personality, charisma, and confidence. Missionary letters and reports may dip into Brené Brown vulnerability territory for a paragraph or two, but the overall theme is generally a litany of accomplishments and success stories. The 21st century church largely agrees that blessing and… Continue reading Pastoral Ministry: The Courageous Calling to a Faithful Love

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… Continue reading Laughter on the Pathway of Lament

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… Continue reading A Story of Waiting

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… Continue reading Ten Thousand Truths

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… Continue reading Pain, Emotion, and God