hard reality and strong faith

More questions than answers!

I’d like to open today’s post by quoting the “status update” my brother Geoff posted on facebook a couple of days ago. I’m doing this for two reasons: First, as Geoff’s status is a public posting, it allows him to dictate the level of disclosure. Second, my brother sums things up well, and pretty much makes my point for me!

My dear family of friends. Just keeping it real and authentic here, so need to share that recent tests show significant progression of the (liver) cancer and a complicating blocked portal vein. I am thankful though that me and my docs have a plan to resume chemo and try and dissolve the clot. Unfortunately I am experiencing more pain than seems manageable. Nevertheless, we go forward because there is lots to do and lots to look forward to!! I am comforted to sing “I don’t know about tomorrow, it may bring me poverty; but the one who feeds the sparrow is the one who stands by me! And the path that is my portion may be through the flame or flood ; but God’s presence goes before me, and I’m covered in God’s love” . . . Blessings of joy and peace! – Geoff

Sometimes, it’s difficult to look out into this world and see much more than a cloud of pain that hangs like a thick fog that’s rolled in off the sea. Individuals, families, even entire nations struggle against overwhelming circumstances, often feeling as if there’s no way to get out from under the bad breaks, the bad relationship, the bad prognosis, the bad management….

  • I know good people who have been savagely beaten up by the economic turn-down.
  • I know faithful people who watched their marriage(s) turn into a nightmare.
  • I know responsible people who have lost their homes to foreclosure.
  • I know far too many people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

And then, as if there isn’t enough pain and sorrow already, I have watched in disbelief as faith-based communities tear themselves apart over issues of polity, legalisms, and lines drawn in the sand.

Good Questions from readers:

  • “So how can you possibly present such a consistently positive point of view,” one reader asked me, “when there is so much undeniable pain in this world?”
  • “I’d like to read what you’d say about a situation like mine,” someone else commented. “There are so many people who live with _______ and I could really use some encouragement…”

I’m not actually in the “answers” business, it turns out. But I am totally in the business of being honest about life, and I am totally in the business of trusting God. You see, I believe it’s important that we remember not to confuse a positive outlook with ignoring reality or looking at the world through “rose-tinted glasses.”

Memorial service: My wife, Rebekah, made the following important point at a funeral service last week. She said that if we’re looking for God to make our lives easier, or to provide tidy answers to hard questions, or to make our problems go away, then it’s not the God of the Bible that we’re talking about. The scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are full of stories about the high cost of faithful discipleship. Christ’s closest followers were persecuted, suffered loss of freedom and property, and were eventually killed for their faith.

What faith in God does deliver, however, is the promise… and the assurance… and the reality of the love and peace and grace that is ours because of Jesus.

My brother Geoff, for example, is crystal clear about the “blessings of joy and peace” that comes from knowing – and accepting – the breadth, the height, and the depth of the amazing love of God in Jesus.

  • People who understand that truth tend not to nit-pick about theology, or doctrine, or who’s wrong and who’s right.
  • People who understand what my brother understands are, instead, simply thankful that God is with them, and that Jesus is for them, and that God’s Spirit nourishes them… and they are especially thankful that God is a much bigger idea than life.

Sometimes, and especially when the cloud of pain rolls in like a thick fog, that assurance has to be enough.

Oh, that my words were recorded, 
   that they were written on a scroll, 
 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, 
   or engraved in rock forever! 
 I know that my redeemer lives, 
   and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 
 And after my skin has been destroyed, 
   yet in my flesh I will see God; 
 I myself will see him 
   with my own eyes—I, and not another. 
   How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19: 23-27)



  1. Geoff, I never had a chance to explain to you that I thought you had more class than most people I get to meet. You never discouraged yourself to smile, amoung the extreme challenges demanding your attention. It is a privilage for anyone to be in the same conversation as you. If there was a time for a miracle, I could say with sincerity, it needs to be now.


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