Two Years Later: What Aileen Is Thankful For

I have said a lot about Nick over the past two years. I have written a lot of articles and done quite a number of interviews and even published a book. And I have been aware all the while that I can only speak to a small part of our loss, for there were many people who loved Nick and many who lost him. Today is the second anniversary of his death and I asked Aileen if she felt ready …

Shaken to Bear Fruit

The strange machine along the streets of Madrid seized my attention. Its long arms reached out and wrapped themselves around the trunk of a tree. Its motor vibrated those arms at high speeds so they could shake the tree violently. Its net sat suspended just beneath the lowest branches. As the machine buzzed and roared, a hundred ripe oranges fell from the branches to land in the net below — a hundred ripe oranges that could feed and satisfy a …

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A Manifesto for Times of Suffering

In the relatively early days following Nick’s death, I understood that I would face a number of temptations—the temptation to sink into unremitting despair, the temptation to descend into self-pity, or the temptation to charge God with wrong. I knew also that God was calling me to carry a deep sorrow for a long time and that I could grow weary of it and then act out in ungodly ways. For that reason I soon found myself writing a kind …

Emerging From Our Trials Unscathed

It’s undoubtedly one of the most-told and best-loved stories in the entire Old Testament. It has all the hallmarks of a great tale—heroes and villains and peril and deliverance. It tells of faithful young men who faced unjust persecution, faithful young men who were sentenced to die a horrific death—to be consumed by flames in a fiery furnace. Yet it also tells how they were unexpectedly and miraculously delivered; how, though they were thrown into the flames bound hand and …

Joni’s Songs of Suffering

Few people have a sweeter and kinder spirit than Joni Eareckson Tada. Few people have suffered longer and more consistently than Joni Eareckson Tada. These two things—sweetness and suffering—do not necessarily go together, but by God’s grace they can and often do. They most certainly do in Joni’s life which is one of the reasons so many of us admire and honor her. One of the keys to Joni’s suffering is singing. As she suffers the effects of her paralysis, …

When God Took Away: His Goodness in My Grief

There is a deep mystery to suffering. While the Bible makes it plain that we must expect to encounter times of sorrow and loss, of trial and grief, we often don’t know why these times come. Though we know he is weaving together a marvelous tapestry that will wondrously display his glory, we also know it is one whose beauty we will fully appreciate only when faith becomes sight. It was in the waning weeks of 2020 that my family …

Cast Your Burden Upon the Lord

So much of what we experience in this life is so very heavy. So many of the burdens God calls us to carry are so tremendously weighty that they threaten to crush us to the dust. We bear the weight of our own sin and depravity, the shame of doing evil and the pain of failing to do good. We bear the weight of other people’s sin and depravity as they hurt and harm us, sometimes intentionally and sometimes purely …

The Thing About Light and Momentary

They are words that can be tremendously encouraging or tremendously discouraging. Said at the wrong time or in the wrong spirit they can compound hurt, but said at the right time and in the right spirit they can be a cool drink on a hot day, a soothing balm on a sore wound. They are the words “light and momentary.” As the Apostle suffered physically and spiritually, as he spoke of the outer self wasting away, he proclaimed “this light …

The Harder Our Earth, the Sweeter Our Heaven

The man who lives in the Swiss Alps is probably not terribly impressed when he visits North America and strolls through the Adirondacks or the Smokies. The woman who has spent her life snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef is probably not too enthusiastic about snorkeling off the East Coast of Canada. The person who has grown up on the beaches of Maui is probably not going to break the bank to vacation on the beaches of Lake Superior. There …

Listen to the Church in China

Christians in the West hear a lot about the church in China. We hear of its growth, of its strength, of its suffering, of its perseverance. We admire it and often laud it, yet in truth know very little of it. Though we often hear about the church in China, we rarely hear from the church in China (for at least a couple of reasons: There is a need for many of those believers to keep a low profile and, …