The reason we endure trials

Bricks

The other day my son was going on about bricks. He had seen a documentary and was eager to report that firing bricks in a kiln made a stronger product than merely drying them in the sun.My mind jumped to a stretch I spent in Uganda. Megan and I saw giant stacks of bricks along the roadside most everywhere we drove. To make them locals molded sloppy wet clay and set the shapes out to dry. Next they arranged a large makeshift kiln from the dry bricks, crammed it with wood, and set the fuel on … [Read more...]

Making grace stick

Sandpaper

Sometimes we face problems in life that really rub us wrong, abrasive and hurtful experiences that we would never characterize as good. Like everyone, I have come through many of these episodes; in hindsight some of them even make sense. I'd go so far as to say that I'm grateful for them.Here's one way to think about these situations. … [Read more...]

Testing in the Christian life

MforMarcus, Flickr

My son Fionn held up two toy cars. "Which one is faster?" he asked. I gave him my answer and he said, "No. Neither is faster. It depends on who is driving them." Trick question. I confess to being a little irritated in that moment by this answer."Then why ask me which one?" I asked.Oblivious to my irritation, Fionn answered with a question: "What's the point of a test if you don't learn something?"That's an interesting answer. We are used to thinking of tests as a way to measure what … [Read more...]

Hope that does not disappoint

Hope that does not disappoint

Our days are marked by trouble. Illness in the family, perhaps dire, a child struggling with unbelief, a bad job situation, turmoil in a close relationship -- the list is as long and varied as you want to make it. We're all facing something, a unique trial, a particular pain. And it's not surprising."Beloved," says Peter in his first letter, "do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you...." … [Read more...]

Less happiness, more joy

Less happiness and more joy

There has been a lot of serious psychological and neurobiological research on happiness in recent years, sussing out and measuring its elusive components. The findings are occasionally popularized for lifestyle magazines and newspapers; though if you desire to really stay abreast you can subscribe to peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journals on the field.I’m sure some of this works is quite good and helpful, but I’m also pretty sure that we’re too focused on happiness, particularly at the popu … [Read more...]

3 approaches to dealing with grief

Dark Day of the Soul

What do you do when you lose someone, when tragedy and misfortune befall your family? Pat answers will not serve a suffering heart, but there are helpful patterns for response after one’s private world collapses.When Nectarius, the future bishop of Constantinople, and his wife lost their son, their friend St. Basil wrote to consol them. He penned individual letters to father and mother both, tuned to their particular pain. These tender notes remain touching and edifying almost sixteen and a h … [Read more...]


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