Archives For suffering

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A month ago today was to be my wedding day.

I was never the girl pouring over scrapbooks of wedding ideals or scrawling my crush’s names in margins on notebooks, I am far too pragmatic for such things. I wore a ring and I planned a wedding.

But today I am not wearing a ring and passed through March 16 with one long sigh and then sleep.

I suppose sometime the shame will lift, the feeling of failure will abate, the questions I ask of God and myself will be quelled. But for today they hang heavy, shrouding all of me. I am strangely okay with the hiddenness of today—though I long for the joy that comes in the morning.

He must increase, I must decrease.

. . .

Sayable has always been a place of vulnerability and transparency. If you know me in flesh, you know I am no over-sharer—quite the opposite, I must be mined for information. But here, on Sayable, I have no shame, or haven’t. The whole point of Sayable is to say; yet the past months have been a time of shame, fear, questions, and quiet, and this has bled into all my writing, especially here.

Some say, “No need to go public,” and some argue, “No one needs to know anyway!” But this past week I read yet another account of a man fallen from ministry and think to myself, “If we cared less about what people thought, and more about ministering through our weaknesses, I wonder if we’d ever get so high we had a place to fall from?”

The thing about ministering through weakness is you have to go straight through it, diving, like the poet Adrienne Rich said, into the wreck. But diving through and into is painful and revealing and I’m afraid I may still fall in the meantime.

There is no great theology to be found in the todaying of my life. It is the punctualness of my inner clock, waking to the same shame and sadness, the fear that because God is enough, all I ever get will be God—and will He be enough? Really enough? I know He will be, but if I don’t ask the question, I won’t remember the answer four-hundred times a day, and I need to remember the answer.

What is diving if not one long fall? Knowing I am caught and held, amidst the wreckage, among the damage, to find the treasure.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
Adrienne Rich

Wipe that Glass

January 7, 2014 — 1 Comment

The first thing we know about God is He is Creator. He takes nothing and makes something. He makes many somethings. More somethings than any one of us will ever see in our entire lifetime.


I understand God as Creator, but if He is Creator, that means He is infinitely creative—and that is something I will never be able to grasp or understand.

He is involved in every iota, every molecule, every atom, every gene, every thought, every action—and He is infinitely creative, which means He never stops creating.

Just thinking about that for three minutes staggers me.

But it becomes so real, so personal, when I think about all the ways He has been creative with me—and the accompanying realization that He isn’t finished with me yet. He is still creating, still teaching, still growing, still perfecting, still forming.

So an infinitely creative God, constantly creating and recreating His people, is a God who can be trusted to not make mistakes. Every scrap of my spectacular story, every rag of my richest rich, every moment of my mind—these form who I am and who I am becoming. He knew the washed up, backwards, inside-out, upside-down story He’d bring me through and He knew that through the mess I’d see Him.

And I’d see Him through a glass dimly, but that dirt and grime, that’s mine. I own that grime. God let me have that grime because otherwise I’d never understand His holiness, His set-apartness. Now all I can do is never stop asking Him to wipe that glass clean.

I love that.

I really love that.

I love it because it’s my hope, more than anything, that we’d spend our lives helping others to clean that grime. To take a rag and say, “You too? Me too. Let’s clean it together. Let’s see Him more clearly, love Him more for Who He truly is.”

I don’t know what your grime is, but I know God knows it. He made it, every atom and molecule. He knows your issues with fundamentalism, gender roles, abuse, theology, culture, suffering, depression, death, divorce, fear. He knows it all. And He’s so creative that He knows how to draw you in, grime covered you, and show you Himself, holy and splendid, majestic and clean.

It’s spectacular.

Counting Down

January 6, 2014 — 3 Comments

It is midmorning and I spread the logs apart, the time for morning fires over, the day’s work ahead. The embers still crack and spark and I stare at their orange and grey glare for a few minutes more.

There has been a dormant joy in my heart these last months. Depression is never such a stranger to me that I don’t recognize her creeping around the eaves and windows of my heart. We are old enemies, she and I, and old friends too.

She is different this time around. She knows where my faith lies and my certainty rests, and it isn’t in my hope or future, but His glory. I count all my hope and future as loss in the surpassing joy of knowing Him. But I have to count it and the counting never ceases.

If all I count are the blessings and joys, will I hold to tightly to the losses when they come? I ask it rhetorically but I ask it earnestly. I know idolatry, we have been friends too. If I do the math, it must only be that I decrease and He increases. In this life only one of us gets to live. It is in heaven, in final glory, that we are both alive.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose,” said the man who would be a martyr. I look around me and grasp at things, hopes, dreams, losses, always keeping, never giving.

God, help me lose.

Help me spread wide the logs, chance the death of flame, let the embers burn themselves out, and help me do the work of the day. Help me count as loss all things—even good things. Turn my wins upside down and my face to you. Let my counting not be accumulating but subtracting til there is nothing left but You.

A hedge of doubt

June 24, 2013

I woke this morning for the first time in weeks without the heaviness of condemnation on me. I haven’t been able to shake those feelings lately, no matter how hard I’ve pressed myself against the robe, no matter how much I’ve bent my face over Jesus’ feet. I’ll be honest, I began to doubt some things. Even now, writing this, my mind is replaying a litany of doubts. Do you really believe that God loves you? Do you really believe you’re worth something to Him? Do you really believe that anyone could love you at all? What makes you think He’ll be happy with you?

They pile up and attack what I know to be true. And so this morning when I woke up gently, quietly, I held my breath for a moment or two, waiting for the doubts to assemble and charge. But they didn’t. And I couldn’t figure out why.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

One of the greatest gifts God gave me was the gift of doubt. I doubt that many of us would see it as a gift, but I know it to be the deepest grace to me. He gave me the wide pasture of doubt and pleasant boundary line of truth. He wounds me with my doubt, but heals with me with His truth.

Like most who grew up in the church in one manner or another, I bought the lie that a fortified moralism would lead me to paths of great joy—purity until marriage, marriage by 22, children by 24, ducks lined up before me and behind me, I got them in a row. I organized my life to make sense.

And then life didn’t make sense. Life dealt me, as one person called it, a bad hand. I’ll never forget walking away from that conversation wondering how to play these cards. What do you do with a handful of threes and no partner in this game? I’ll tell you what you do: you doubt.

You fall full into it, bathe yourself in it, wash your soul with sin and shame. When the answers you’ve been given by well-meaning people fail, when the theology you believe (that God responds when we pray harder, give more, seek deeper, and repent faster) proves you the fool, and when God does not seem good, I’ll tell you what you do: you doubt.

And here’s the thing about doubt: it is a seemingly endless plateau. God has given us the gift of reason and logic and thought, and so doubt will take us where nothing else can because there is always another question, another possibility. Even if we bump up against a wall of truth, we are like little squares in Atari games, bouncing for eternity.

Doubt doesn’t seem like a gift.

This morning I read the first chapter of Job, the righteous man who we might also say was dealt a bad hand. But today I noticed a word: hedge.

“Have you not put a hedge around him and all that he has?” The enemy asked God before he unleashed upon Job the full fury of his minions.

God permitted the enemy to do what he would, only told to keep his hand from Job himself, and today I think about the hedge God has set around us. I want to believe that the hedge prevents the enemy from coming in, but that is not what we’re told. No, the hedge prevents the enemy from going outside the bounds of what God has set for him. It is Job’s hedge, but it is also the enemy’s.

This morning I woke up and felt myself hit the hedge. Not my limitations, but God’s. Not the end of myself, but the time when God holds up His hand and says “No more. This is the safest place I have for you. Within these boundary lines. Here. All the rest I have for you lies within these boundaries. All the struggles I have for you too lie within these boundaries. But do not worry: I have set this hedge around you and the enemy will not prevail.”


I’m loathe to take a camp, step off the fence, call my cards, or slap a label on myself, but all it takes is one quick glance through Sayable, a brief perusal of the publications for which I write, and the local church I call home for others to safely land me in with the neo-reformed. I won’t reject the title, but in normal fashion, I will not lay claim to it. However, there’s been something rotten in the state of Denmark recently and all fingers are pointing back at, well, I’ll say “us” for the sake of this post.

If you have no idea what rotten piecemeal is being bandied about, I have no interest in educating you. Others have done so much more thoroughly than I, with much more anger than I, with many more bones in the game than I. I weigh in today because May was supposed to be my sabbatical month and instead I have been peppered with more questions than ever on why I haven’t written on the SGM civil suit.

Here are the main reasons:

1. I am not affiliated in any way with SGM. Though I may be affiliated with those who are affiliated with them, we can play that game all day in every which way. Kevin Bacon anybody? These days everyone knows everyone somehow. It is a small world after all.

2. I am not a lawyer, but I think I am a fairly intelligent person, and even I had a bit of trouble getting my mind around the legal jargon of all the documents. And I’ve been in my share of courtrooms, with my share of lawyers spouting legal jargon—two can play that game. All I’m saying is, someone wants to win and so it’s hard to trust a system where winning is the goal. Last shall be first and all that.

3. I’m one of those fools who trusts the men who keep watch over my soul. Maybe that play isn’t for everybody, but I figure the Bible spent a lot of time talking about it, so nuff said.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Just because I didn’t say anything about it, though, doesn’t mean I didn’t feel complicit in the alleged ongoing silence by “us.” I was a bit confused as to why men and women I respected within the Church at large weren’t weighing in on the suit at all, save from a post by Tim Challies. It is good to be slow to speak, yes, but not speak at all? It didn’t seem right. I knew I didn’t have anything to add to the civil suit conversation, but surely something could be said to acknowledge the situation period?

(Adding my voice to the cacophony of the Christian blogosphere wouldn’t assuage those out for an admission of guilt, though, if you’re wondering why I didn’t say anything. I’m under no illusions—I might be affiliated with those affiliated with SGM, but I’m no Kevin Bacon, if you get my drift.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In the light of more recent occurrences, though, and now that some of “us” have issued a public statement, I thought a few things might be said. Take them for what they’re worth to you. Remember comments aren’t open on Sayable ever so I’m not shutting you down and there’s no need to respond. They’re just my simple thoughts for those who might need them.

If you are a pastor:

Please protect your sheep. I meant what I said above about trusting those who keep watch over my soul. I mean that because the Bible says it and I trust the words of God. However, you, by nature of your position and your God-given authority, help illuminate those words for your sheep. You can use or abuse your authority and position, and you can, unknowingly, be the voice of the accuser to people—even in your silence. Always protect your sheep. If one of your talented, seemingly godly, charismatic sheep turns out to be a wolf, go after him. If one of your sheep leaves the fold, go find her. Pastor your people, don’t just preach at them.

If you were abused:

This case feels like the nail in the coffin, trust me, I know. Even if it wasn’t the same as your experience, you can easily relive your experience every time someone dismisses the concerns of the victims, every time someone seems complicit with their silence. Your heart means well here. The grace of God for you takes a horrific experience and gives you the tools to minister to these issues in a way those higher-up might never be able to do. That is not your blight or your stain, that is the precious work of grace to take the broken and make beautiful. Now is your time to speak in and with grace.

If you were an abuser:

You did wrong and you know this. You ought to make recompense for what is considered a crime in the eyes of God and the judicial system. But this does not mean forgiveness is withheld from you, or should be withheld until you “pay for what you did.” Forgiveness doesn’t work that way. I pray you know the fullness of the gospel covers your crimes, but does not blot them from history. Repent, accept the judicial punishment, and if you are His Child, look forward to a lifetime of His grace and an eternity in His presence.

If you want to leave the church because of this:

Part of me wants to say, please do, and trust me, there’s no snark in that statement. I’m fully convinced that no matter how far you run, you cannot outrun the wild, ferocious, loving heart of our God. If leaving the Church for a while helps you clear yourself of the clutter of its underbelly, please do. You have the freedom to leave abusive situations, Christ sets us free to do that, and you should. But I will also say this, as a child who has seen her fair share of the underbelly, if you’re His? You’re grafted in. You’re knit so tightly into His body and flesh, his scars and blood-bought redemption that you can’t leave the Church because you are part of it. And it’s beautiful. Really beautiful when you see it like that.

If you are neo-reformed (or whatever it is called these days), but embarrassed by the silence or complicit responses:

Can I implore you to press in close to your leaders, your elders, your editors, and your pastors. Sometimes they know things about a situation that you don’t know, isn’t public knowledge, isn’t on some legal document, and isn’t widely known. Sometimes they’re withholding comment because it could actually make it worse for the most helpless of the situation. You don’t know. There’s a lot of speculation, regardless of who you are and who you know and who you know who knows someone else. You aren’t Kevin Bacon, you just saw one of his movies once or twice. Reserve judgement.

If you know someone who knows someone (who was abused, who went to an SGM church, or anyone at all):

One of the things I love about the Bible is there are all these portions where it’s just one man or one woman and God (or the enemy). There are no eye-witnesses, it’s just Moses and the burning bush, Daniel and the lions, David and the bears, Jesus and the enemy. We get this birds-eye view into the situation, but really, when it happened it was just them there.

So we have perceptions of how things looked or played out, but I’ll bet you could poll any thirty of us and we’d all have a different setting in mind for Moses and his burning bush. There would be similarities, of course, but it would be different. This is how it is to hear any story second hand. We can know that some things are true, but some things are simply perceptions. Because of this, it is almost always better to reserve your own words about another person’s experience. There may be truth to it (and in this case specifically, it seems like there is definitely much truth to it), but the retelling of it multiple times will never end well. Mourn with those who mourn, bring it to the authorities if need be, but keep silent about the specific matter unless you know you speak the canonized truth.

If you are a mere onlooker:

If you’re just a casual reader, a blog reader, a curious atheist, a questioning agnostic, I am sorry. This entire situation, from twenty years ago until today is unfortunate and shameful. This is not becoming to the Church and I deeply regret it happened. However, let me say this, I am firmly convinced the Church tries to keep its wedding dress too squeaky clean, and this case is a perfect example of it. The reality is we’re blemished and broken, spotted and wrinkled, and Christ is the only way we’re getting presented cleansed. He’s it. It’s not through a denomination, a pastor, a friend, a court system, or a blog post that the resolution of all things comes, it’s Him. Him alone. Be encouraged, there’s room at the table and we don’t mind if you’re messed up. Really. We’re messed up too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

That’s all. I know this is long, and I’m breaking sabbath to share it, but I couldn’t sleep and I love to sleep.

Go in peace, brothers and sisters, pastors and sheep, abused and abusers, doubters and finders, He is faithful to complete His work. He seals it with His spirit.

Two Tuesdays ago I burned myself; my hand brushed the side of the cast iron pan while my eggs sizzled and spit. I jumped back and let a loose word slip out. First instincts kicked in and I wanted to thrust my hand in a bowl of icy water but I reached for the honey instead. In my family honey was the remedy for allergies and colds, burns and cuts. We bought it by the bucket.

Gracious words, these are like the honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Prv. 16:24)

And this is what I meditate on today because my heart was burned this week. Unknowingly, unassumedly, words cursed across my heart, searing and scourging. I want to self-medicate with quick fixes or find comfort in the coldness of a hardened heart, but I reach for the honey instead.

Honey pulls the swollen skin in, keeps the bacteria out, lessens the scar, and soothes in the process.

Lord, I confess I need honey. And I need it from You. I need what is sweet to the soul and health to these bones. I have been cracked and crushed and this week I feel pressed from all sides, fearful of everyone and everything. And, Lord, I don’t understand why you use sticky substances to seal the Spirit’s work. I don’t know why what feels most natural and right, is sometimes not what is best. And, Lord, I want what is best.

And I trust you to cover me over with it, bathe me in it, and supply me with it as often as I ask.

So I’m asking.


Backwards Math

February 16, 2013

While a friend and I were grocery shopping today, I mentioned that it seems more and more of my friends are not only divorced already, but on their second marriages. We counted my friends on my fingers and I didn’t know whether to count them as couples or as individuals. Two or one? There’s nothing impressive about larger numbers when you have to do division to get there. Backwards math.

I know marriage must be hard and I can’t even imagine how hard. But I know it cannot be as hard as splitting in half what God has joined together.

A friend divorced last year and he asked me once what he could do in the aftermath. I had only one thing to say: when he spoke of his ex-wife to their children, he not call her “your mother” because this puts the ownership of all his and her dysfunctions on small shoulders never equipped to own all that. She is their mother, true, as truly as he is their father. But call her just “Mom,” and pray she counters in point.

Even if you tell your children they are not responsible for your divorce, can I tell you right now they will probably believe they are? Whether they are five years old or twenty-five years old, there will be questions in every crevice of their soul nagging, demanding, accusing. There is nothing you can do to assuage this—pulling adhesives apart leaves residue.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tonight I am thinking of how Jesus taught us to pray: Our Father.


A shared Father. The Son shared His Heavenly Father with us. Us?

Our Father.

I had conversation a few weeks ago with a near stranger and she asked me how I could serve a God who caused bad things to happen to good people. I thought for a few minutes and asked her if her parents were still married. “No, of course not,” she said, as though divorce is so common now it should be assumed. “Does your mother refer to your father as ‘your father’?” I asked. “Yeah, so what?” She said.

“Do you ever feel the weight of all the ways your mother felt wronged by him on your shoulders? as though it was your fault? and are you sometimes ashamed of him? even if he is doing and has done his best your whole life?”

Her shoulders fell and she nodded, dropping her eyes.

Sometimes I feel like this about God, I said to her. Because the truth is that I don’t know why bad things happen to people. I don’t know why you got saddled with the guilt of a broken man and the accusations of a broken woman. But sometimes I feel the heaviness of owning the explanation and hope of the world on my shoulders because it is my Father who has created it.

I don’t know why we seem like we have to bear the weight of a broken world on our shoulders. But I do know this: if you’re His child, He’s our Father. And when we can’t bear the weight of Him being our Father, take comfort in the reality that Jesus sat on a mount with His disciples, sinners, and taught them to pray to Our Father, teaching us to enter into brotherhood with Him. Creating oneness out of brokenness.

He is infinitely good, incapable of doing wrong.

Always does what is best for His children, all of them.


Broken Bodies

February 12, 2013

I wake broken today. It is barely light outside, my weekend, my rest, and I feel unrested and restless.

I go back to bed. I read for an hour, then pull on a flannel shirt, find my way to a cloud covered lake and wish, like Joni, that I had a river to skate away on.

This brokenness, it is present in ways that prick and pin me against myself, against the mirror of my soul, showing me myself and the ugliness within.

I call a friend a few hours later to confess the brokenness, but she has had a hard day and she tells me stories for forty minutes and at the end I am too tired to say the simple words: I’m broken. And so I tell her instead the good news belonging to some friends and I leave my brokenness out. I am ashamed to be broken and ashamed to have it so tight around my throat, constricting and felt.

Tonight I am meant to stand at the front of our sanctuary, our place of rest and worship, and I am meant to serve the bread and the wine alongside another. And perhaps they will have felt their brokenness today too. Perhaps they will know their humanity constricting and tight. Perhaps their heart will feel as fragile as the wineglass they hold, as broken as the bread I hold.

Here is what I know of brokenness and here is what I know of communion: it cannot be done alone.

As He has entered into our sufferings, born a babe in a cruel manger in a cruel world, body broken and bruised, we enter into His. And as we enter into His, we enter into others. And as we enter into theirs, they enter into ours. We share the broken body, the poured out blood, we partake of Him but we do it with one another.

We cannot do it alone. Any of it.

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings,
that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
I Peter 4:13


That God Doesn’t Exist

February 7, 2013

Before I knew I would move a thousand miles from four seasons and local coffee shops, before I knew that my faith was going to fall apart on the threshold of spring and questions about tithing, membership, and provision, before all that. This all happened before that.

I knew that God wasn’t real and if He was real, He wasn’t good, and if He was good, He wasn’t good to me. What I couldn’t wrap my mind around was why I’d been dragged through the whole charade in the first place. Why a decade of spirituality and suffering and questions and confidence? Why all that if He was just going to walk me into the desert, spin me around in circles, and tell me to sort it out from there?


One of the first sermons I heard preached after I moved down here was from a series about authority. In it my pastor, who was still in the middle of 18 months of chemotherapy for a brain cancer that kills most of its victims, said these words, “I believe that He did not cause my cancer, but He could have stopped it, and He chose not to.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There are all sorts of mental gymnastics in faith, right? In that sentence above you could spend hours and weeks and months trying to sort out what each word means and how it plays itself out. You might decide you cannot serve a God who doesn’t cause suffering, but could stop it and chooses not to. But in that one sentence, my mind stopped the questions and just believed.

Because here is the truth about what God promises and what He doesn’t:

He promises He is good and He promises His word endures forever.

He promises eternity to His children and He promises justice to us all.

He promises His character is inscrutable and generations will speak of His faithfulness.

And those promises trump. They win. They win because they pile these light momentary afflictions of cancer and unbelief, suffering and fear, and they place them in the hands of a Creator, an Artist, an All Good God, and He blows away the chaff, the things that feel like wasted time and wasted energy and wasted you, and He makes all things new.

All things.


“Give me an M16 and I’ll storm that brothel!”

“Oh, I just want to hold those girls and tell them they’re loved…”

These are the two responses I hear most often when I explain what sex-trafficking is and how it plays out in the industry.

These are also the two reasons I am passionate about educating others about the depths of the trafficking problem, because holding someone or storming a brothel cannot be the answer. It cannot be. 

At the core of every person is a heart that longs for some sort of fulfillment, some validation, or security. So it is that at the core of the trafficking problem are the hearts of men and women caught up in the web of the industry—from traffickers to pimps to johns to madams to the sex slaves themselves.

Continue reading Storming Brothels & the Hearts of Men.

Stop Sex Slavery: Redlight

This image was taken by Hazel Thompson in partnership with us at Project Red Light Rescue for the book CAGE. If you’d like more information on how you can be a part of infiltrating the red light district with the Gospel, connect with me here, attention Lore. 

Endure Patiently

January 30, 2013

I can’t even tell you how it happened that we sat there and cried hot wet tears, barely looking one another in the eyes. I take much of the blame, though my heart ached with hurt and couldn’t find healing.

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger?

Well, what about when it’s not anger you’re bedding down for the night? What about when it’s joy mixed with mourning so deep you don’t know what else to do but be silent? Be silent for fear that your muddled mess of joy and mourning will be trumped by the latter and seen as such. So I kept silent.

A friend tells me a few weeks ago that I present my life as perfect and I want to tell her to read a decade’s archives of presentations. This? This place on the web? This is my sanctification in process on view for the world, and if that’s perfect, well, I suppose I’ve arrived a thousand times over.

Once I heard a story of an old man on his death-bed. He was asked if he found himself sinning less as he grew older.

“Sin less?” He asked. “I was never more aware of my sin than I was a moment ago.”

“Well, then, do you find it easier to repent?”

“No, son,” he said. “I just find the gap between me and the Lord ever closing as I turn.”

It was Annie Dillard who said, “Where, then, is the gap through which eternity streams?” and I think that gap is here, and here, and this moment, and this one. Eternity streams through these small moments, adding up to one final jubilee, one long trumpet call, when our angers and hurts and fears and sins are bedded forever, never to wake up, not ever.

Do I find myself sinning less the nearer I draw to that final day?

No. I find I know my sin more, and every moment more aware than the last. But do I find it’s easier to find God, to know His nearness, and to trust the days to him? Yes. I do.

It doesn’t make the hurt less, but this earthly Christian life is not for the avoiding of hurt, but the enduring of it.

…we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance…
Romans 5:3


Comparing Weight

January 28, 2013

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us
an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…
I Corinthians 4:17

Tonight I’m on the phone with a friend and we’re talking about the weight of glory like we know what we’re talking about. We’ve seen our fair share of light momentary afflictions and we’re both crying “Maranatha!” in our stronger moments.

Come quickly, we’re saying, and in the meantime we’re shouldering our share of the burden.

“Did you know that the Hebrew word for glory is the same word for heavy?” she asks me. She’s in seminary and seminarians know these things. I tell her I didn’t know that but it seems fitting, doesn’t it? If you can follow it through, the weight of glory is the heaviness of glory is the glory of glory is the glory of heaviness is the glory of weight—and isn’t it a beautiful picture when you put it like that?

This light momentary affliction is preparing us for the glory of bearing it through til the end. Finishing well. Finishing without comparison, because we know there is no comparison or coupling in heaven—we will be all too enamored with the King of Kings to consider our neighbor.

And let me be straight—our momentary affliction is not the stuff of real suffering, we have food enough and friends enough and He carries us through in the meantime. But our momentary affliction comes from the comparison we are so wont to do here on earth, and isn’t it the way for us all?

No one else seems to struggle here or with this. No one else has to muscle their way through this experience, so why us? Why me? These are the existential questions of our momentary affliction. It is fitting, then, that Paul would use the word comparison when he talks of the weight of glory, isn’t it? Listen here, he’s saying, you who are looking around you and experiencing the stuff of the earth in deeper and more painful ways than your counterparts are, what it’s preparing you for is a glory you can’t compare, not even on your best day.

I imagine, for one moment, Isaiah in the year King Uzziah died, seeing the Lord in all His glory. Isaiah, who was undone by all that glorious glory. “Woe is me.” I imagine the burning coal touching his mouth and his admission that he would go anywhere the Lord sent Him.

I imagine that and I can bear almost anything.