On January 1, 2018, things were not looking good for the new year. My dad died on December 30. I was also in the middle of a months’ long treatment for a chronic illness, and the treatment had left me with ongoing physical symptoms and mood changes. With all of this swirling around me, my demanding job felt 10 times harder. It was too much. If you had asked me to list my top 25 goals for the year, “writing a book” wouldn’t have been one of them — not by a long shot. I didn’t have the time, the will,…
I know someone who’s trapped in a dead-end job right now. He’s been there for years and he’s trying to make the best of it, but realistically, his resume is probably far too stale for him to get a different job for which he’s qualified. I know a woman who has an ongoing chronic condition that doctors can’t fix. You’d never know it if you met her — the embarrassing symptoms, the limitations. She longs for some medical breakthrough that will fix the problem, but there’s little hope for that and for whatever reason, God hasn’t healed her.
“Honey, I’m not feeling well,” I said as my stomach began churning after Christmas Eve dinner at my sister’s house. Three hours later, I was slumped over a toilet, feeling the full effect of a merciless virus.
I stared at the TV and fought back tears while watching an interview with American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham, who were haggard, filthy and appeared to be disoriented.
I was not prepared for the phone call I received on May 26, 1994. It came from my mother, who was letting me know she was worried. “Joshua, I’m just calling because I want to remind you to be careful today. There was a teenage girl who was killed in a horrible car accident this morning.”
I recently got into a brief argument with my wife over something totally minor. In the moment, however, it felt like it was a huge deal (pride has a way of converting little offenses into major ones).
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” says Scripture. A lot of us feel sick with unmet hopes and unanswered prayers right now. I know people who are waiting on jobs, babies, marriage, healing, and restoration of relationships, among other things. The needs are as unique as the people and their circumstances. I’m in my own race right now, and yesterday I wrote some thoughts to put words to what it feels like. Maybe you can relate.
I have this one childhood memory that used to haunt me. When I was in first grade, a careless adult did a great deal of damage with very little effort and it seemed like the hurt from that incident couldn’t be undone.
Ten years ago this month, I started the day by getting on my face before God and saying, “Lord, I’m getting down on the floor because if I get up, I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid.” I had good reason to be concerned.
I stared at the TV and fought back tears while watching a CBS news interview with American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham, who were haggard, filthy, and appeared to be disoriented. The couple, who were missionaries in the Philippines, decided to spend one night at a resort to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary. But that night they were kidnapped by terrorists, and a year later, they were being dragged through the Philippine jungle. One of their fellow hostages had been beheaded.
I have a brother and sister who died in a plane crash when they were 10 and 14 years old. Although I only have one memory of them, I definitely felt their absence growing up. My father will tell you that he still does.
Seven years ago, I was having a conversation at a birthday party when I suddenly felt like I was in a dream. My voice felt far off, the room looked two-dimensional, and I couldn’t get my eyes to focus. Fifteen seconds later it stopped, but that episode was only the beginning. I started having a variety of other bizarre experiences. Sometimes it seemed like I was watching a scratched DVD — other times I would lose my words mid-sentence or forget how to type.
I have a friend who was once known for her strength, and now she’s becoming known for her weakness. Rachel Wilhelm, a popular guest writer here, has felt her body break down over the last year. The only diagnosis doctors can offer is fibromyalgia, a mystery illness known for pain, acute weakness, and frequent sleep disturbance. Yet somehow in the midst of it, God has taken Rachel’s weakness and made something strong out of it. Here’s her story, in her own words:
My wife and I did not intend to have another year of sweeping changes in 2016. We never do. We told ourselves this year was going to be different. The roller coaster was finally going to stop. No more big transitions like the previous eight years of marriage.
The other day my seven-year-old daughter said something I wasn’t expecting: “Daddy, I know a bad word.” Oh no, I thought, my worst fears about the D.C. school system are already coming true. “Oh really?” I said casually. “What word did you learn?” “The S-word.” I cringed.