Have you ever felt that your personal struggle, temptation, or challenge is especially burdensome? Perhaps you feel your thorn in the flesh is unmentionable. You might consider it more shameful, embarrassing, or onerous than the burdens that others bear. You keep it to yourself, instead of letting other saints help you with it.
Or maybe it weighs upon you so much that you speak of it incessantly. It follows you constantly, like a thick cloud of oppression. It keeps you from experiencing the full joy of God’s presence.
Did you ever ask God why you struggle with this thing instead of something else? Would you swap your burden with someone else’s? Do you wish you didn’t have to deal with this particular difficulty? You’re not alone.
The personal and family history of each one of us produces, in this world of sin and sorrow, a unique set of circumstances and a unique spiritual battle. Every person is unique and every struggle also is.
At the same time, for all our uniqueness, our temptations can be grouped into three: “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions” 1 Jn 2.15. Our struggles are often collected into a small set of concerns, such as the title that one author gave his book: money, sex, and power. My struggle is then shared by millions of other people.
But we still think that having a different struggle would be better, do we not? If I didn’t struggle with this thing, it would be easier. So we tell ourselves. My burden is heavier, more shameful, more difficult, than yours. It’s not true, but in our self-centeredness, we make it so, by such thinking.
¶ Christians know that society needs the gospel to resolve its problems. Not a few have stated the same over the most recent shooting in Las Vegas. But how many Christians are proclaiming the Good News and teaching others what to do to be saved? That is the greatest problem of all. This is the burning issue of our time—the sidelined church.
Paying preachers and sitting in church buildings does not get the job done. The Lord well may lay at the church’s doorstep much of the violence and sin overtaking society today, because we have failed to do our job. Pay preachers? Yes. But let each one do his job of reaching his neighbors for the Lord Christ.
¶ “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” say researchers. Being able to live in the moment brings greater happiness. No one is better able to do this than the saint who is focused on heaven and who lives for the coming of Christ.
How can that be? Our hope makes our present free of care. One hymn says, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” And because Jesus lives and will come again, I can have joy in the present and focus on what is before me.
¶ Six of the nine times the word church appears in Ephesians—the theme of the letter—they occur in the passage discussing the marriage relationship, chapter 5. So what does this mean?
At the end of this text, Eph 5.22-33, Paul says this, “This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Maybe the apostle is saying more with that sentence than we first thought.
¶ The man who shot and killed himself in the Iuka, Miss., hospital on Oct. 7–while my mother-in-law was a patient there—wanted to do it there so they could harvest his organs for others. A selfless act in the midst of the most selfish act of all, taking one’s life?
My wife knew the man. Years ago, he had worked with her mother. So it came as a shock to learn his identity.
¶ Do you get tired of the “I’m not perfect” blather by religious people? I do. And our brethren have picked it up as well. They’ve no idea what perfect means in biblical language. They’re using it in false humility. Or to justify lack of obedience.
It’s not biblical talk, for sure. But then it seems we’ve given up on the attempt to speak of biblical things with biblical words.
¶ After a short jaunt in the U.S., the Missus and I are back home, picking up on evangelistic studies, getting back in the routine. It was a blessing to see a new grandson. It’s a blessing to be at home.
¶ A precious phrase in the JFB commentary: “‘Cares of this world, impatience of wrongs, a bad conscience, keep awake the ungodly and disturb their sleep’ (Rivetus); but what I awake for is to give thanks to thee.”
¶ And from a site that doesn’t allow links: “Grant to me, O Lord, the penitence of the publican who dared not raise his eyes to heaven, the desire of the prodigal who longed to return home and the wisdom of the merchant who surrendered all to possess the kingdom. Amen.” —Rabbula of Edessa (d. 435).