death (6)

This Week’s Question: What is the fundamental missing element implied in James 2:1-9? And why is it so important?

The first section of this chapter, James 2:1-9, addresses partiality, and included under that topic are discrimination, partisanship, and a host of other divisive ills including racism, sexism, nationalism, chauvinism, jingoism, and a host of other similar beliefs. James criticizes such behaviors, without explicitly stating the root cause. Consequently the question we must consider is what is the fundamental missing element in that passage? It should not be difficult to recognize that love is the missing element (see James 2:8)! As stated in an earlier post, the motives behind partiality are fear, lust, and pride; which, according to the Bible, do not emanate from God since lust and pride are denounced repeatedly in The Bible, and Paul, in II Timothy 1:7, states explicitly, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” So the real question is why is love so important? From a Biblical perspective, there are many reasons to justify love, but for this discussion we will focus on three: (1) God commands His followers to do so; (2) Love is the distinguishing characteristic that separates God’s children from satan’s; and (3) From God’s perspective, a person’s motive is more important than one’s deeds.

Let’s start with the commandment. When Jesus was asked, “… which is the great commandment in the law (see Matthew 22:36)?” He stated two. Beginning in Verse 37 “Jesus said, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’" These commandments, according to Jesus, are inseparable and summarizes the entire Bible! The problem is many of Christ’s purported followers are resolved to expend energy building the vertical dimension of love (with respect to God), while ignoring the horizontal dimension, by disdaining one’s neighbor. Once again I John 4:20 brings clarity to this issue, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” The bottom-line is this: There is no optionality with respect to Christ's followers loving one another despite their differences; It is commanded of them by God!

The second reason love is important is it clearly identifies God’s true children according I John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Nicodemus was told by Jesus that no one can either see or enter the Kingdom of God, unless they are born again (see John 3:3, 5). To be “born again” means to be “born of God” and requires transformation, since all are born into sin, and thus, are born as minions of satan. However, once someone surrenders their heart, soul, mind, and strength to The Lord, transformation is realized and that person’s life should forever change according to the following: “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (II Corinthians 5:16-17). Those who have been transformed view others differently, because The Holy Spirit endows them with a lens of love!  The bottom-line is this: God is love, so for anyone to be identified as His child, he/she must have that same impartial love, for others. So how do we know God loves impartially? John 3:16 teaches that God’s love for the world (which is impartial and unconditional), is the motive behind Him sending Jesus to die for our sins, and His example is the one that must be followed!

The third reason love is important is God’s children’s deeds must be motivated by love. Otherwise, one’s actions, no matter how beneficial they seem, are meaningless according to I Corinthians 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” Verse 1 and part of 2 speak of spiritual gifts. Within today’s church community, many rely upon their spiritual gifts as evidence that they are children of God. The problem is many do not realize that vertical love for God, without an unconditional horizontal love for one’s neighbor, renders that gift meaningless to its bearer. Can God can still use that person to fulfill his purposes? Absolutely, but with an improper motive, it yields no benefit to the gift’s bearer!

Verse 2 is interesting because it addresses one’s spiritual walk and ministry, which on the outside appears vibrant, God-centered, and effective according to outward appearances. However God looks into a person’s heart, and if love is missing, then every deed performed in His Name is an exercise in futility because as Paul states, “I am nothing.” Jesus confirmed Paul’s assertion in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Jesus’ prophecy is a sad commentary for many who put self-interests, partisanship, political ideology, or popular or public opinion above God’s Word and His commandment to love. If love is not the motive behind everything we say, think, or do, then our deeds, no matter how effective they may seem to others, are meaningless!

In verse 3 Paul addresses charitable giving and personal sacrifice, which, in the minds of many, should automatically qualify a place in Heaven for the benefactor! Two examples are provided by Paul and both seem commendable. The first is selling all of one’s possessions to feed the poor. But what if that deed, instead of being an act of love, was done to spite someone else; or done just to realize a tax break. Paul declares categorially, “it profits me nothing.” The same can be said for someone who sacrifices their life to save others. What if the person is a suicide bomber, or the act were committed out of vengefulness or hatred towards someone else. If love was not that person’s primary motive, it is a vain exercise from God’s perspective, and will yield the self-sacrificing person no benefit when they come before God’s judgment.

In many ways James 2:1-9 is a reflection of American culture. Many, who have superior attitudes, look down upon, castigate, or harm others who they deem their “lessors.” They also actively fight to keep immigrants out of this country, have no compunction about separating families at the border, and immigrants who are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to enter this country are subjected to inhumane squalor conditions, which has led to several deaths. Also (and this is an unfortunate waste of valuable resources), vast amounts of time, energy, and resources are utilized to keep people of color disproportionately incarcerated, uneducated, financially deprived, and unable to vote. Nevertheless, the hope for those who are poor but rich in faith is found in Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first last...” In summary, if all who claimed to be disciples of Christ lived according to the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you), and allowed that to be the motive behind everything they said, thought, and did, then this would be a better world because partiality would be a sin of the past since Christ's Disciples are the salt of the Earth and the light of the world (see Matthew 5:13-16).

Next Week’s Question: Since too many have a romanticized view of love, what is love from a Biblical perspective?

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The Sentence of Death?

As most of my closest friends already know, doctors have recently diagnosed me with cancer. Unbelievable. I certainly never thought it would happen to me.

Although this is supposedly a highly “treatable” form of cancer, that’s not particularly comforting. In the old days, cancer was virtually a death sentence, which has caused me to reflect on some insightful words from the apostle Paul:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NIV).

Paul wasn’t dealing with a cancer diagnosis at the time, yet his overwhelming circumstances and tribulations felt like “the sentence of death.” While Paul would write elsewhere of God’s faithfulness in providing a way of escape during times of trouble or temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), here he admitted that the trials seemed “far beyond our ability to endure.”

You see, cancer isn’t the only circumstance that can feel like a death sentence. In Paul’s case, he encountered severe persecution and countless other hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). For you, the problem may be a job loss, insurmountable financial pressures, divorce, or addiction in your family.

I’m really glad Paul honestly shared about his tumultuous circumstances and inner turmoil. It’s somehow comforting to know that the mighty apostle – God’s man of faith and power – had his own dark days. Yes, Paul knew how to pray, but sometimes he experienced the Lord’s sustaining grace despite a “thorn in the flesh” that refused to immediately go away (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Thankfully, Paul learned an incredible lesson amid his apparent death sentence: “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

What a great message for us when we encounter overwhelming challenges in life. The purpose of our trials is to teach us to rely upon the Lord instead of upon our own strength and ingenuity. Even if it seems we’ve been given “the sentence of death,” we have nothing to fear: Our God even raises the dead!

No matter what you might be facing today, I hope you experience the joy of knowing you have nothing to fear. How liberating!

In my situation, I know there’s a Name far above the name of cancer (Ephesians 1:19-21). For that reason, I have no need to fear cancer, chemo, or even death itself (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Actually, since the days of Adam and Eve, all of humanity has been under a death sentence – it’s just a matter of time (Hebrews 9:27). However, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, death has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:53-57). As believers, we know a day will come when we’ll be “absent from the body.” But that’s okay, Paul says. When that day comes, we’ll be “present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Like the three Hebrew young men who faced the prospect of a fiery furnace, I’m confident that “the God we serve is able to deliver” (Daniel 3:17-18). Isn’t that good news?

Paul’s conclusion ended up being remarkably similar:

[God] has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:10-11).

Paul’s confidence of victory over his present and future trials was partly based on how God had faithfully rescued him in the past. Can you relate? If the Lord has helped you overcome some previous “death sentence,” He can surely do it again.

It’s also beautiful to see Paul’s recognition that the prayers of his friends would play a huge role in His expected victory. In recent weeks, I’ve never had so many people praying for me – and I know they’ll share in my victory when it comes.

Although I don’t fully know what lies ahead for me on this health journey, I’m sure God will be with me every step of the way. And if you are passing through a dark, shadowy valley during your own journey today, let me assure you of His presence with you as well (Psalm 23:4).

The Bible warns that this life will not be trouble-free, even for believers (John 16:33). But although you may have to pass through deep waters or fiery trials at times, Isaiah 43:1-3 says to fear not!

Of course, the natural human response is to desire immediate deliverance from our difficult circumstances. That is certainly my preference as well. I know that God is a supernatural God, and He can change things in a mere moment.

However, in spite of my desire for speedy relief, I have an even greater desire that my journey will reflect the heart of Jesus. His soul was troubled as He neared the cross. But instead of praying for an escape plan, He said, “Father, glorify Your name!” (John 12:27-28).

May that always be our quest, for there is no greater victory.

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Sunday, June 29

Spattered throughout scripture is the idea that, on this earth in this life, we are merely sojourners.

Travelers just passing though.

Even “aliens and strangers” moving about on this God-breathed world (1 Peter 2:11).

Or, put a little more bluntly by Jesus, we are well cared for “leaves of grass,” here today then withered and tossed on the fire tomorrow (Matthew 6:30).


The point being made is one that we often don’t truly get or even care about until, well, the end is nearer than we’d like.

That point is simply this: life is transient and temporal.

Every one of us will die. Some sooner than others. And all by various means and ways.

Because this reality has been thrust brusquely upon our family in the past few days, I’ve been contemplating, among other things, the idea of “hospice” as we’ve been practicing it.

The literal definition of hospice is intriguing:

hos•pice (hŏs-pĭs)
1. A shelter or lodging for travelers, pilgrims, foundlings, or the destitute, especially one maintained by a monastic order.

2. A program that provides palliative care and attends to the emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients at an inpatient facility or at the patient's home.

[French, from Old French, from Latin hospitium, hospitality, from hospes, hospit-, host; see ghos-ti- in Indo-European roots.]

(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

When the two proffered meanings are blended, as I believe they should be, the truth that surfaces is that, in a sense, we are all engaged in hospice, both as givers and receivers of care.

We are all earth-sojourners seeking hospice -- shelter, care, lodging -- day in and day out.

* * *

My mother-in-law, Ann Laub, a vital and head-strong woman that I’ve known only a few years, went to the hospital some days ago. Her complaint was an ankle gone awry. At 81 going on 82, it doesn’t take much to send a body into a deep hurt.

Sparing some of the finer details, she came out of the hospital after a couple of weeks straight into home hospice.

As you can guess, many other factors were at play. But still, it took all of us varying degrees of time and depth of pondering to move past the “But it was only a sprained ankle!” to the hard reality that it is much more.

I think we are all still working it out in our heads and hearts. But the result is the same no matter what.

The weight of life is bearing down. And it hurts.

Now, three strong, lovely daughters (Cynthia, Debra, BethAnn), working as ministering angels, attend to Ann’s needs in rotating shifts. They are variegated images of their strong, lovely mother.

Walt, husband and father, attends also, sorting through all that’s happened and happening, working hard to make sense of it all while being there by her side. His is a difficult and arduous task despite appearances to the contrary. My heart breaks for him, and them.

Others of us, connected by blood or marriage, are here as best we can be. Alternately stepping in to help or moving out of the way as needed. It’s a kind of a dance with awkward steps we’re all trying to learn meaning toes get stepped on at times.

There is nothing about this that is not hard. And for each, it’s hard in different ways only each can understand and parse. None can tell another how to feel, how to think, how to go through this.

After all, a family is a unit made up of different individuals. Even shared experiences are colored and made infinitely personal in the hearts and minds and memories of each one.

That’s the way of life.

And life, as death, can be messy. All the hurts and hopes, mistakes and successes, good decisions and bad, trials and joys of life still crowd in at the end, demanding a place, seeking to be heard, wanting to be acknowledged, or perhaps forgotten.

As in life, at death tempers flare, love surges up, tears fall, hugs are given or shunned, misunderstandings erupt, and memory recalls lighter, brighter, happier times as laughter inexplicably bubbles up out of deep sorrow.

Amazingly, mysteriously, joy finds a way.

This is the awkward dance of life.

Today the dance has taken a turn as Ann’s breathing seems to be fading. Everyone has gathered.

* * *

After a few bumpy turns on the dance floor, things settle into a whispered vigil.

Dad works on his crossword from the morning paper. One washes dishes. Another updates the notes for the nurses. And someone else cleans. All are working hard in their own way.

Besides the labored breathing, there are the random exclamations. Ann is nearly simultaneously lucid and not. Deciphering her meanings is as complex as working out a difficult crossword.

How long this will go on is anyone’s guess. Right now, just about everything’s a guess.

Much of life is a guess. But there are certainties. God’s love and grace is assured to those who are his children.

Jesus taught that in giving shelter, clothing, a drink of water -- hospice -- to another fellow sojourner, it was as if we gave it to him (Matthew 25:35-45).

Service rendered in love to the helpless is a miracle of grace. Especially when the helpless and those serving are a little head-strong.

* * * 

Jesus comforted his disciples assuring them of their place in his kingdom and in heaven. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me,” he told them, and then explained that he was going ahead to make preparations.

“Where is it you are going?” they asked.

He told them they knew the place and pointed them in the right direction saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:1-11).

Paul writes in Romans that those who “confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:4-14).

But what if, some may fret, I’m coming to all of this late, near the end? Not to worry. Again, schooling his disciples, Jesus said, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:25-30).

Spiritual hospice is always available to the living, even when near the end of our journey.

Ann is ready even though some may not be.

* * *

In addition to ministering to Ann’s needs, the daughters also managed to prepare a simple supper. In response to an earlier more lucid request, a dear relative brought the key ingredient for crab cakes.

The freezer was raided for some side veggies. Sundry leftover sweets were gathered from the refrigerator. And the table was beautifully prepared with places for everyone but Ann.

Then the traveling RN, Joe Evans, came.

One of many of the care workers available at a moment’s notice, Joe was a wonder. Calmly, with humor and sweetness, he spoke softly, answering myriad questions while at the same time tending to Ann’s needs.

Every concern was gently and thoroughly addressed. Every person was acknowledged. Every expended effort by the family was praised.

Finally, after repacking his bag, he asked to pray with the family around Ann’s bed. Grateful, we circled, held hands, and were humbled as Joe prayed with sincerity, and tears.

Joe understood that this was hard.

* * *

Something I’ve learned about the concept of family is that the meaning and the members shift over time for many reasons, some joyful and some painful.

Death, romance, marriage, birth, adoption, divorce, re-marriage, betrayal, distance, friendships, feuds, and more all impact the family unit. Add to that the connections and severings between and among extended family units.

It can get very complicated at times.

What I’ve also learned is that families are resilient, in their parts and on the whole, and there is always room for new members. It always takes a bit of adjustment on everyone’s part, but the love always grows to embrace the new additions, no matter how they come in or how long they stay. It continues even when some turn their backs and walk away.

Which leads to the most important thing I can say about my family: In all its permutations, I love my family. Whether immediate or extended, here or departed, each part and each person is special and valuable and dear to me. I have been blessed with a great family and a great heritage.

This most recent permutation of my family, where I have been adopted by virtue of marriage to BethAnn, has been and is a joy. The Laubs have taken me in and extended living hospice to me. They have made me one of them and because of that I am in awe.

Ann has been a key part of that acceptance.

One of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received is an Emily Dickinson doll. Ann had noticed a joking reference I’d made to the doll on Facebook. Seeing the doll when I opened the box cracked me up, which was exactly the reaction she was going for. Of course, later, so Emily wouldn’t be lonely, she got me the Will Shakespeare doll. Both are proudly displayed in our home.

* * *

The day is nearly done. The sun has set. Ann is still sojourning with us and we continue to provide her hospice. We will miss her, but in this experience we will gain a new appreciation of her and of each other.

And this comes to mind:

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:

'Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).
Hospice is the work of the Lord.
* * * 

We’re all tired. The daughters are exhausted. Tonight we’ll sleep, maybe.


“[D]o not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

Yes, today was enough for today.

BlogQuestion.pngWhat are your experiences with losing a loved one or providing hospice? What helped? What didn't help? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Originally posted at

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Whatever Doesn't Kill You...

When I went through a rather traumatic experience recently, I found myself reflecting on a commonly held maxim of today’s pop culture: “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Depending on your taste in music, you can find this statement in recent songs by Kanye West or Kelly Clarkson.

I’ll have to admit, there’s something rather uplifting about this premise. It’s great to hear that you can be made stronger, instead of weaker, during the storms of life.

But is this axiom truly Biblical, or just wishful thinking?

It turns out that the originator of the “Whatever doesn’t kill you…” statement appears to be nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He is more famous—or infamous—for launching the “God Is Dead” movement. But that alone doesn’t mean we should totally dismiss his view that whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

As I’ve pondered this, I’ve concluded that Nietzsche’s statement is a half-truth, something that can be either true or false depending on other factors. Let me explain…

There’s no guarantee that you will be strengthened by the traumas of life. We’ve all known people who experienced traumas and didn’t end up stronger—they just ended up traumatized. However, I bet you also can point to people who truly did become stronger as they overcame adversity.

You see, the evidence is pretty clear: Some people become BITTER when dealing with adversity, while others grow BETTER.

So what causes this stark difference in outcomes? Basically, the key is how we respond to the trauma. When faced with hardship, we have a fantastic opportunity to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:1). Instead of being destroyed by our trials, we can “go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7). When the flood waters come, they can lift us higher instead of drown us.

However, there’s nothing automatic about this. It’s a choice. A lifestyle. A recognition that God’s strength can be revealed amid our human weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Jacob wrestled with God one night and ended up limping as a result (Genesis 32:24-31). Was he stronger after that experience? Certainly not physically stronger.

But spiritually Jacob was infinitely stronger after this divine wrestling match. The transformation was so great that his whole identity shifted from “Jacob” (the scoundrel and deceiver) to “Israel” (a prince with God).

Ironically, the traumas of life ARE supposed to “kill” us, in a sense. But this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll immediately exit this world for heaven. Rather, it means we’ll increasingly die to ourselves and then experience more of God’s resurrection power.  

The apostle Paul said it this way: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). You can’t get any stronger than that. 

I don’t know what you’re going through today. But I DO know this: God is faithful. He has a good plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11). And if you look to Him in your adversity and weakness, He will fill you with His supernatural strength. 

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Rule Following

     I’m a rule follower. I know it’s kind of silly but I like rules. Rules help me know when I am staying within the bounds of what I’m supposed to do. I somehow find comfort in knowing that I am being responsible if I follow the rules. (Jay walking is dangerous. I saw a kid yesterday barely escape getting run over by a car because he was jay walking.) But sometimes when I think I’m being responsible, I’m actually being prideful. I take pride in following the rules. This is a problem when it comes to our spirituality and our relationship with God. We can follow God’s rules, well, at least most of the time. And we can become prideful about it too. We can become so prideful that we believe that God loves us based on our rule following and that He is either happy or disappointed with us when we follow or break the rules. But that is exactly not the way God relates and acts towards us.

Listen to what John Piper says in his book, Fifty Reasons why Jesus came to die:

     “This is why the Bible says that the new way of obedience is fruit-bearing, not law-keeping. ‘You have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God’ (Romans 7:4). We have died to law-keeping so that we might live to fruit-bearing. Fruit grows naturally on a tree. If the tree is good, the fruit will be good. And the tree, in this case, is a living relationship of love to Jesus Christ. For this he died. Now he bids us come: ‘Trust me.’ Die to the law, that you might bear the fruit of love.”

     I am praying that I will be fruit-bearing today and not just a rule follower (law keeper). I don’t need to earn God’s love, Jesus already did that. I need to bear fruit of who I am on the inside. May you think and ponder deeply that one of the reasons Jesus died was so that you do not have to keep the law perfectly but so that you will bear fruit for God, for His glory. I think your relationship with God through Jesus will be much more joyful if you do.


All for Jesus,


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The Valley

My son goes to college in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. In order to get there we have to drive over the mountain. On both sides of the mountain are valleys. We spend more time in the valley than we do on the mountain.

I was reminded this morning in the story of the widow at Nain, that pain and suffering are pervasive in this life. I know this comes as no news to most people. However, we often think about our Christian life as reaching the top of a mountain. We create our own little mountain of success and we think that the peak of the mountain is the place to be. More often than not people are in the valley rather than at the top of the mountain.

In a Friday morning men’s Bible study that I lead, we are reading a book called Mighty to Save, by Richard Phillips. In it he writes concerning this story in Luke 7:11-17, “One thing you will notice if you study the Bible is that there is a great deal of weeping going on…With few exceptions all the major figures of the Bible are seen weeping, and in all sorts of situations.” The truth about life is that sin has caused a great deal of pain, heartache, suffering and ultimately death. Like the widow of Nain who had previously lost her husband now she has lost her only son. She is in a desperate and confusing state. All her earthly hope is gone, it has literally died. But approaching her is Jesus, who can not only bring hope but life to her situation. The text tells us that “Jesus saw her and had compassion on her” (v.13). Jesus “sees” the agonizing situation of this woman and walks into the valley with her. Jesus then literally speaks life back into her son and raises him from the dead.

The woman now has hope and has been given her life back. Jesus, who is the life and the resurrection, has the power and authority over death. Jesus, our Savior, empathizes with us, and He walks through the darkest valleys with His people. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to the mountain top. Joy and hope and encouragement should always characterize us. But we have to realize that most of life is lived in the valley. Yes, one Day all things will be made new; no more tears, no more suffering, no more death. But for now, we face those trials with the presence of Christ.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1

May we walk confidently through the valley, knowing Christ is at our side and may we go into the valley with others showing them the hope and life that is found in Christ.

All for Jesus,


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