Monday, July 27, 2020

11th Anniversary of Micah's Homegoing





Today marks the 11th anniversary of Micah’s sudden death on July 27, 2009.  Without a doubt, we miss Micah’s presence with our family.  We wonder how each of Owen, Brendan and Kinsley would have benefitted from having an older brother.  Both our kitchen table and our dining room table have room for six, and so we are always sitting with that one empty chair—a thrice daily reminder of the weight of the loss we have endured. 

On this 11th anniversary of Micah’s unexpected death, Heather and I have also felt the weight of the continued outpouring of the love and support from our family and friends.  We marvel at the time and personal expense absorbed by those who have taken the time to write, call or meet us in order to support us in our grief.  We are amazed at the generosity of friends and even acquaintances who have given so generously to Hope for the Mourning so that the ministry can reach out to fellow grieving parents.  We glad to report that our work days were very unproductive by reason of all the emails, texts and calls we received. 

Again on this anniversary, we thank the Lord again for these fellow grieving couples who showed us God’s love, even through their own brokenness in grief.  To paraphrase and apply the words of encouragement from Paul in 2 Corinthians 4, our friends are, in their sacrifices to us, “carrying in their bodies the death of Jesus,” so that the life of Jesus might be displayed in the lives of Cory and Heather Wessman.2 Corinthians 4: 11.  These friends have taken it upon themselves to absorb a cost of some kind on our behalf, whether emotional, physical, time or financial, so that we can be encouraged.  It is our prayer that, in some small way, we can take on that same “death” in our own bodies. 

Earlier today, about fifty of our friends showed us this sacrifice in very tangible terms.  Beginning at 5:30 am this morning, we conducted our third annual “Hills for Hope” challenge.  Each of the participants agreed (yes, of their own free choice!) to complete an obstacle course that entailed:
1.       Running straight up the “Bigfoot” Ski Run at Hyland Hills ski area, then back down;
2.       Completing 10 burpees, 20 pushups and 30 situps;
3.       Repeating 1 and 2 as many times as possible (one “loop”) over 90 minutes!
The participants pledged a “poor loop” pledge.  With a total of 334.5 loops completed, our team was able to raise $12,919 for Hope for the Mourning!

These friends quite literally carried pain and weakness in their bodies for 90 minutes (well, and for an indeterminate number of days following today’s event) in order to allow the life of Jesus to be displayed in others. Just as others have used their own sufferings to bless us in our own grief journey, these friends suffered in a physical and financial sense, in order to encourage us and others.  Thanks, friends, for carrying the cost in our bodies, in order that we might experience the love of Christ in our own lives, and pass along that love to others through Hope for the Mourning.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

A "COVID-19" Easter Saturday


We live in unprecedented times.  Our schools, jobs, and churches are all physically closed.  Our family members are sick and might even be dying, with no help on the immediate horizon for a vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus.  Many of us have lost jobs or, if we have not lost our job, have taken pay cuts and are forced to work from home.  There, we try to keep our careers afloat while also trying to manage the education of our children under less than ideal learning environments.

We are experiencing, to a lesser extent, what the disciples felt on that “Easter Saturday.”  Six days prior, their long-awaited savior had entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the accolades of the Jewish onlookers, those who hoped in Jesus as their long-awaited political savior.  In the span of a few short days, all of the hopes of those closest to Jesus were dashed.   We might try to imagine just how devastated those disciples felt that Saturday.  They put all their “eggs in one basket” and, when their Savior breathed his last breath on that dark Friday afternoon, they felt like they lost everything.  With the benefit of scripture and history, we can see how much the disciples “missed” when it came to the prophecies of Jesus’s resurrection, both from the Old Testament prophets as well as Jesus himself.  Yet we are similarly caught in the historical moment, grieving the loss of what we had assumed to be ours; certain, or at least predictable, outcomes for our family, our careers, and our finances. 

In these most difficult of times, God calls us to trust him for the health of our family, for our career and finances and even the educational outcomes of our kids.  We must trust him for the fact the He will provide, even though we can’t presently see how He will provide.  The Bible says that God’s riches and wisdom are so deep, that his judgements are “unsearchable” and that his ways are beyond “tracing out.”  Romans 11:33.  While we won’t understand all of God’s ways, that does not mean that there are not good and noble purposes being achieved through our present circumstances. 
In the book of Job, we see a righteous man lose it all--his family, his fortune, and even his health.   Job expresses his grievances against God for God’s plan, a plan that while we can see through the Biblical narrative, Job was never granted access to.  As God came to Job in the whirlwind, God reminded Job to whom it was, precisely, that Job was airing his grievances.  None of us built the universe, including its gravitational forces, all living beings therein, and even the corona virus itself.  We cannot see how time and space interact; we cannot see the end from the beginning.  (Job 38-41).  While God ultimately provided Job another family, his fortune and his health, he was never given access to God’s plan for his life.

Since we are within time and space, we can not be so presumptuous as to believe that we know the outcome of our present difficulties. Should not the COVID-19 crises alert us to the very dependency on God that our life circumstanced had heretofore masked?  Is it possible that God wants to do something through our professional and family life to achieve an outcome more eternally significant than the outcome we planned for ourselves and our family?

Earlier today, we made our annual “easter weekend” visit to Micah’s cemetery.  There, we talked to our living kids about death, grief, and what it might mean to be resurrected when Christ comes again.  Certainly, these precious  gospel opportunities might have been created through other means had Micah not died.  But if any one of our living child’s faith journey, or anyone else’s faith journey, has been positively impacted by the story of our deceased Micah,  it will redound to God’s glory in orchestrating such an outcome through Micah’s death.  We live in the hope that a thousand, or perhaps even a hundred thousand, such gospel opportunities will, in the end, demonstrate the goodness of God in orchestrating a life and death that is otherwise difficult to accept. 

But regardless of whether we find any circumstantial blessings to our present sufferings, we must immerse ourselves in the promises of scripture so that we can live in the joy of our eternal significance.  After all, COVID-19 has taken nothing from us that is of eternal significance.  If we focus exclusively on the loss of our income, relationships and physical opportunities, we will miss these opportunities to focus on our eternal blessings that cannot be lost.  1 Peter 1: 3-6 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power for the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

On Easter Saturday, the disciples needed to wait upon the Lord only for a few short hours before their hopes and dreams were realized with the empty tomb, with Jesus Christ resurrected.  In our case, how long will we need to wait?  Whether for a few hours or a lifetime, let us pray and wait in hope, knowing that, as has often been said, “It is Friday, but Sunday is coming!”  Happy Easter to you and your family from the Wessman household.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

10 Blessings on the 10th Anniversary


Today marks ten years since Micah’s death.  On this 10th anniversary, Heather and I thought we would share ten ways in which Micah’s short life and sudden death continue to impact us, even ten years later. 



We can have certainty in our eternal destination.   Before Micah died, I never gave much consideration to whether young children are saved.  But when Micah died, it was no longer an abstract question. I jumped into the deep end of the theology pool to ascertain what the Bible says about the eternal destination of those who, like Micah, died before reaching an age of individual responsibility.  Having spent a considerable amount of time researching the question, I came away not only certain of my own son’s eternal destiny, but also continue to benefit from the certainty of my own salvation.  Both Micah and I are saved for all eternity by the blood of Jesus Christ, and nothing I do, or Micah didn’t do, can take away from that salvation.  For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8,9.  Some of us try to “justify” ourselves by our balance sheets, our achievements, or the number of “good works” that we complete in our lives.  God saved Micah for the pure pleasure of demonstrating his superseding power and goodness, juxtaposed against the self-righteousness of those who think they can personally achieve moral standing before Him by good works.   Paul says, “….God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:26-31.  The assurance of Micah’s salvation is a great promise for each of us that our own eternal destination is independent of our moral acts, and for that all of us have reason to be thankful. 

Suffering redefines “our good” from God’s perspective, not ours. Be very careful about quoting Romans 8:28 flippantly to anyone enduring great suffering.  In that verse, Paul tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good, who have been called according to his purpose.”  When your son dies, your dreams die along with him.  If we flippantly encourage parents with promises based upon an improvement in their circumstances, such as, “don’t worry, you’ll have more children,” or “the pain will get easier,” or “just think positive,” we miss the point of the passage.  God didn’t allow the death of our son to improve our circumstances, but to achieve God’s purposes for us.  In the words of a friend, Romans 8:28 is not for “our best life now” (yes, think Joel Osteen) but “our best life later, much later, as in all of eternity.”  What we believe to be good is not necessarily God’s best for us.  This discovery of God’s best may be painful, and may seem to lead in all sorts of painful, circuitous paths, but we can trust that it is ultimately for our good.

God uses suffering to give us an eternal perspective. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1-4. Regardless of what interests and background we have, we tend to surround ourselves with people who think the same way we do, value the same things we do, and reinforce for us, in our own minds, that same value system.  Workplace accolades, financial rewards, and other life circumstances are what I call the “idols of the immediate.” I often wonder how much of what we consider “important” in our minds or our own social circles are just these idols of the immediate—that is, empty promises of satisfaction that, if followed wholeheartedly throughout a lifetime, will only lead to disillusionment and then ultimately destruction.  A continuing, ongoing blessing from Micah’s death is that it is such much easier to pick up on those idols of the immediate and reject them for what they are, and then refocus our lives and energies where they ought to be--on the eternal. I’m certain that, in the absence of Micah’s death, Heather and I would be more closely tied, in heart, thought and action, in achieving what we want on this life, the idols of the immediate, the “things on this earth.” For us, Micah’s death meant that we could more easily focus on matters of eternal significance.

God gives us daily sustaining grace to meet each day’s trials. In those first few weeks following Micah’s death, we could not fathom thinking to the future.   Every hour seemed to be a chore;  it was too much to bear to think of the future that lay ahead.  If we were to pull forward the sufferings that we know we were to endure in the future, we could not possibly hope to endure.  But God gives us sufficient grace today to meet today’s promise, promises to meet tomorrow’s problems with the future grace he will provide. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:21. We cannot now see the thousands of interim blessings that God will provide each day, every day, until we see Jesus.  Who can predict what little encouragements--the emails, phone calls, times together with family and friends -- will arise in the meantime, as an answer to prayer, to provide us with the grace that we need to endure? 

Praise God when you are in the sanctuary, because it pays off when you are in the dark.  In Psalm 63, David writes, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because you steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:1-3What kept David’s faith alive through difficult days was a reflection upon all that God had done for him in the past and to trust that God would similarly use the present sufferings for his ultimate good. David’s reflections upon certain past blessings (his time spent “in the sanctuary”) keep him going through difficult days. For us, it can be the memory of past experiences, when we are walking along the mountaintops of life, in the sunshine with God, that could maintain our faith in a good and sovereign God even through the dark valleys of life. God gave us great days with Micah, as he does now with our living children.  If we were to continually remind ourselves of these past experiences of God in our life, resulting in blessings to us both large and small, then we should be able to keep praises of God “continually on our mouths.” (Psalm 34:1). Then, when nothing seems to be going right in life, we can bring these blessings to mind, and use them as footholds of faith when we otherwise can’t see the benefits of suffering. 

God’s plans for us are beyond tracing out.  We were not able to become parents as quickly as we hoped.  Then, when Micah died, we wondered in light of our previous infertility issues if we would ever have children.  Given what we knew, we had no reason to believe that we would be parents.  Quite unexpectedly, our second son Owen was born within a year of Micah’s death.   Micah’s death, coupled with the other circumstances surrounding Owen’s birth, made it clear to us that God’s hand was clearly in all these circumstances.  Which makes us wonder, what unexpected results will come from our current sufferings?  What will God accomplish through our parenting blunders, our breast cancer, our health setbacks, and other difficulties?  Oh the depth of the riches and of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out!  Romans 11:33.

God uses the humble encouragement of fellow believers.  In the past few years, Heather and I have been so encouraged by the humility and sacrifice of many friends.  These friends have demonstrated the type of love that Paul refers to when he says, “…do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3.  Some acquaintances like to tell us what we should do; others don’t want to make the commitment to take the time to listen.  One of the striking characteristics in our friends is the humility involved in ministering to us.  It is a difficult, exhausting, and time-consuming task to sit across the table from someone who needs to be heard. Humility is telling a friend “I don’t know how I can help you, but I’m here to be quiet, sit with you, listen, and then pray together.”  What a blessing to have friends who have the humility to encourage us at great personal cost.

As Christians, we can live simultaneously in both joy and sorrow.  In Paul's words, we are "...as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." 2 Corinthians 6:10. While the waves of grief are shallower, and less frequent, then they were a few years ago, we continue to grieve. We face the realities of death "head on," not ignoring grief, or pretending that grief does not significantly impact us in so many ways. From the outside, our lives are filled with many good things, and have the opportunity to take joy in our children. But the absence of our oldest son from our family creates a "hole" in our lives and in our affections. No matter how otherwise "happy" we think we can be, we recognize that we will never be truly satisfied on this side of eternity. It will not be until we see Jesus that these "holes" will be filled. For this reason, Paul can say that any Christian, regardless of his or her circumstances, can be rejoicing, since one's ultimate source of happiness and joy comes from our relationship with Jesus. For us, and I know for many other grieving parents, the ongoing blessing of a "missing" child is the continual reminder that this world is not our true home, and that we long for that day when we will be welcomed home. Until that day, we look ahead in both sorrow and joy.

Only God provides a sure foundation for our future. Just a few days before Micah died, Micah was a happy and perfectly healthy little boy.  We had no reason to believe that Micah would be taken from us so suddenly.  Our son’s death showed us that we are impotent to control our future, and the future of our children.   In Psalm 73, the Psalmist is initially frustrated by the apparent physical and financial prowess of the godless people around him in light of his own suffering. And then, after entering into worship and prayer with God, he was able to re-center his affections in God. "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26. When suffering through the death of a child, facing financial or career difficulties, or enduring health challenges, we remember that we are “a mist that appears for a time and then vanishes.”  James 4:13-15. Our sufferings educate us as to the temporal duration of any source of stability and significance outside of Christ, and point us to the only true source of eternal stability. 

We should “seize the day” and enjoy our family for God’s glory. As each of our three living children passed the 9 month mark, which corresponded with the length of Micah’s earthly lifetime, we took special note of each of them.  Each of them looked so much the same as Micah at that age: the wide grin, the blue eyes, the near-white blonde hair. They were (at the time!) gentle in spirit, pleased to just giggle and take all of life in. Our earthly lifetimes are certainly too short of a timeframe to begin to understand all of the possible ramifications of each of our lives, including Micah’s. But I am increasingly certain of one implication, to me personally, of Micah’s death. I am so grateful, and so appreciative to God, for every waking moment with living kids. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4. Who are we to receive these blessings from God? Everything is grace. Nothing is deserved. Everything is extra. Nothing is owed to me. Will you give your living kids an extra hug, knowing what an extra privilege you have to parent living children?  Carpe Diem, I say, but to the Glory of God.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Redemptive Memory


July 27th is not a welcome day in our house.  So much about this time of year-- whether the length of the long summer days, the sunshine, the humidity, and even the relative calm of a mid-summer schedule, bring back memories we wish we could escape. It was on this date in 2009 that our son Micah, a happy little 9-month old boy, died as a result of a confluence of events. Many people in grief, or who have endured great suffering, are said to “live in the past.”  Because current circumstances create such pain in their lives, some people who have endured great hardship try to avoid current circumstances and hold on to everything about the past that provided them joy.  In that vein, we might look back at a particular event and consider its worth, to us, based only upon the joy or usefulness it brought to us in that particular moment.  For the nine years that have past since that awful July day in 2009, we have come to painfully associate the attributes of a midsummer day in Minnesota with the memories of our son’s death. 

But God does not view history the way we do.  God is working out our redemption through our framework of time.  In his book, A Grace Revealed, theologian Jerry Sittser describes the importance of using “redemptive memory” so that we can be encouraged by how God is using our history to shape us.  Sittser writes, “We see the scope of the biblical story unfold before us, situated, as we are, some two thousand years after it ended.  But the characters we read about did not have the vantage point we have not because they were inside the story.  They chose to trust God and follow him into an unknown future, however slim the evidence of a bigger story that could make sense out of their little ones.” 

I want to offer three observations about how I have struggled with having a “redemptive memory” related to my own grief. 

·         Embrace Our Temporality.  First, while God is above and outside time, God fully expects us, as temporal beings, to only be able to comprehend life sequentially.  Joe Rigney writes that our temporality is not sinful; that it is at the essence of who were created to be, and who we will be for all eternity.  The author of Hebrews writes, “These [the patriarchs] all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”  Hebrews 11:13. To believe we can possibly understand all of the purposes that God has achieved in our suffering is to misunderstand our temporality. But God is calling us, nonetheless, to trust that He is using time as a key ingredient in the recipe he created for our sanctification and His own glorification. 

·         Patiently Bear the Sufferings of Others.   Second, we must patiently bear patiently with others as God works in their lives, in His time, just as He works in us, in His time.  The Apostles rejoiced in having suffered for His name, and that they bore each others’ burdens and shared everything in common. Acts 5:41. We as members of Christ’s body are called to suffer with one another, and to encourage one another.  God’s multivariable calculus is such that, with regard to any one particular source of grief or suffering, He might be using the suffering in one matter for one purpose, for a second person for a second purpose, and to a third person, at an altogether different point in time, for a third purpose.   Heather and I have been so blessed by those in the Body of Christ who, having endured a similar type of suffering at a time well before our own suffering, are able to speak words of truth and encouragement to us at the point in time when it was most needed.  As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to share our sufferings with others, as well as our encouragement, knowing that God can work both suffering and encouragement together for our common good.   2 Corinthians 1:6.   

·         Live in the Joy & Suffering Paradox.  Third, we are called to live in a joy and suffering paradox.  We are admonished to respond in joy to what God is doing in our lives in light of all eternity. James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness …” James 1:2-4.  But even while living in joy in our eternal future, we can take great solace in how Jesus showed us how to embrace the grief of temporal suffering.  In John 11, we read that Jesus was so moved by the death of his friend Lazarus that, even with the knowledge of how He would shortly raise Lazarus to life, Jesus embraced the grief with his own tears.  While God is above and outside of time, he is somehow also in it, and can commiserate with us now, in our own grief.  We can therefore live in an ongoing and continually paradox of emotions—with both great grief in earthly loss, and yet great joy in the hope of the coming redemption of all things, including our greatest of sufferings.   As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:10, we are “…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

The great news of the gospel is, among many other things, that we are part of the larger redemptive story and that no one event, however, tragic, can and should define us.  The cross, in itself, is the most egregious event every perpetrated on another human.  But the testimonies of millions of believers across the span of two thousand years, including our very own, demonstrate that the legacy of the Cross is not just the unjust sentence, torture, and death endured by God.  It is the redemption of those who are called by God.  

In our case, the idea of “redemptive memory” does not mean that we should try to forget the great grief.  We think of how Micah died and how if in any one of a number of things would have gone differently, he would still be with us today.  But at the same time, it is far too early for me to write a definitive account of Micah’s life and legacy.  The way in which Micah died cannot be viewed as a self-contained event having meaning within itself.  It must be viewed along with the various and numerous grace-filled blessings that have arisen in our lives by reason of it. Just as the Cross of Christ cannot be viewed outside of its redemptive impact on human history, so also we should view our sufferings in light of what God has done, and continues to do, by reason of our son’s death.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

2018 Hope for the Mourning Running Team

Again this year, we are looking for runners to participate in our Hope for the Mourning Running Team. We ask each runner to commit to raising at least $250 in total contributions. Each runner would solicit his or her own personal contacts in an effort to raise as much as possible for the Hope for the Mourning ministry.

YOUR RACE OPTIONS: All races are part of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon family of races on October 6-7. 2018. You have the opportunity to run in one of four different races:

 -Participate in the 5K on Saturday, October 6th
 OR
 -Participate in the 10K on Saturday, October 6th
 OR
 -Participate in the 10 Mile on Sunday, October 7th. (Members of the 10 Mile team will need to win a lottery in order to participate; if a runner is not selected as part of the lottery, he or she will run in the 10 K.)
 OR
 -Participate as a runner in the TC Marathon on Sunday, October, 7th.

YOUR WEEKEND BENEFITS: As in previous years, all members of the Hope for the Mourning running team will receive:

           Registration for the desired race;
           The Medtronic Marathon “finisher’s” t-shirt provided by the race;
           A Hope for the Mourning long-sleeve race to wear proudly on race day;
           An invitation to you and your family to join us for the pasta dinner on Friday night, October                5th.

NEW FOR 2018!!! Since we seek to provide support to the entire family, we have decided to encourage more youth to be involved in our fundraising event. Any youth (up to age 16) can register to participate as a “HFTM Runner”, just like the adults. The youth HFTM runner can register for any of the events listed above or the 1 mile run on Saturday, October 6th. The weekend benefits are the same as the adults. We ask each youth runner to commit to raising at least $50 in total contributions. Each youth runner would solicit his or her family and friends in an effort to raise as much as possible for the Hope for the Mourning ministry.

THE CAUSE Through your efforts, the contributions raised in support of the ministry have allowed us to reach the families grieving the passing of these children:

Jonathan Wurz

Kate Fronek

                                                                          Daniel Peso

The Wurz, Peso and Fronek families, along with more than 180 other families, each received a care package in the past year. Each care package includes an invitation to respond to us. While not every family is in the same position to respond to us, we are honored to be of assistance to many families who chose to respond. Locally, we’ve been able to meet with several of the families who have lost children in the past year and who have received care packages. Through your generous efforts, we are able to minister to these families.

 We invite you again to make a difference in the lives of hurting families by letting them know through this ministry that there is Hope For The Mourning. Please respond to Craig Wessman by JUNE 29TH of your own interest in being part of the 2018 Team. Additionally, if you have a family member, friend, colleague that might also be interested in joining the 2018 team please forward this page on to them and have them respond back to Craig Wessman at this address: candkwessman@gmail.com . For more information about Hope for the Mourning, go to: www.hopeforthemourning.com

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Deeper the Cost, The Greater the Prize

We, like many grieving parents, wondered what sin we committed in the past that prompted God’s removal of our son Micah from our lives. Other parents come with a sense of self-righteousness, believing that because they had previously been faithful to God, God had no “right” to take a child from them. Both lines of thinking are really a self-centered, self-created form of righteousness, a type of righteousness that God clearly does not ascribe to. Throughout the Old Testament, God uses the law to show how distinctly different (“Holy”) He is. Our human inclination, to every fiber of our being, is bent upon making ourselves dependent on ourselves, to make what few things we can do relatively well as the epicenter of a self-created system of righteousness. The death of Christ is the demonstration that our greatest works are completely insufficient to bring us into relationship with God. Pastor Tim Keller says, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The good news of the Gospel is that our earthly circumstances are not the result of a transaction with God based upon our performance, about us fulfilling some set of rules. Rather, our relationship with God has been set permanently by the blood of Christ on the Cross. The Apostle Paul says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14. God will glorify Himself through us, and the lives of our children, living and deceased, and in Him now we can take the utmost joy. The more we understand the cost that Jesus paid for us, the more appreciation we have for the prize we have in our salvation in Christ. We pray that on this Easter, you would take great joy in God.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Holding on to the Promises.

Today is Micah’s 8th birthday. Like many grieving parents, we could try to live in the past in order to find “joy” in the memory of those brief, fleeting “happy” moments. But what hope does that bring for the future? A present hope in God, continually renewed by the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the promises of scripture, must be the sole source of our significance and hope for the future.
We grieve how short Micah’s time with us was. But ultimately it is not Micah’s tragedy that we grieve, it is sin itself. For even with our life-long spouses and friends, we will ultimately be separated by death. In contrast, we are promised in scripture that, if we are trusting in God now, that we will be with Him forever (Psalm 73). Our hope in each other and ourselves will disappoint, if it has not already. In contrast, Jesus promises a joy in himself that will never end. (John 4). Jesus shared with the outcast Samaritan woman at the well the same startling truth that He knows we need--that nothing on this earth can fill us with the joy in Him. The great promise of our faith is that joy in God is exceedingly greater than anything else offered by this brief physical life. On Micah’s 8th birthday, we hold on to this promise.