Joy in Suffering
There is a treatment update at the end of this message.
DORIS STAM has written a book.
Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is one that will not ring true with those who embrace the “health and wealth” gospel. Too bad! This message of “joy in suffering” resonates clearly with the testimony of Scripture, and we do well to take it seriously and heed the call. This excerpt is from Marva Dawn’s compelling study of The Revelation.
JOY IN SUFFERING
God’s message to us in the book of Revelation is that in the present we are not always going to win; our lives will not always be characterized by triumph. That is a lesson hard to accept¾in fact, impossible¾except that it is balanced on the opposite side with this hope: eventually we win because Christ reigns. These poles stand in a dialectical tension and cannot be brought together because of the intervening reality of opposition from all the powers of evil.
These three parts¾the ultimate, cosmic Lordship of God in Christ; the present opposition of the powers of evil; and the resultant suffering on the part of God’s people¾lead to this other important aspect of the theology of The Revelation: meanwhile we can endure our weakness with patience. The hope of God’s ultimate dominion sustains our longsuffering.
Many twenty-first-century Christians find these convictions almost impossible to accept. Instead they have espoused a theology of “victory, healing, luxury, and blessedness” that The Revelation does NOT teach. God does not promise us a rose garden¾at least not one without legions of thorns. And though there are, of course, many roses in life, they fade, too¾with the promise that they will come again next season. Life has its rhythms and fragrances.
We have to keep our worldview genuinely realistic. We cannot ignore that we live in a world dominated by sin and not by the purposes of God. All the talk about the progress of the human race is verifiably an illusion, as we discover when we correctly read the Scriptures and human history. We see over and over again that power corrupts, leaders deceive, persons hurt each other for their own gains, dreams die¾or perhaps more precisely, are killed. This is not just gloomy pessimism. In fact, Christian realism is much more optimistic than shallow illusions about humankind’s goodness because this genuine realism recognizes that God is working still in spite of evidence to the contrary. Divine, covenant purposes will prevail in the world in spite of all the gunk and muck.
But the gunk and muck are there¾and we do great disservice to those who suffer if we gloss over it and dump on them a mindlessly ”hopeful” gospel of pablum victory over their pain. The Revelation teaches that God always gives victory eventually, but that the meanwhile entails suffering.
–– Marva Dawn, from JOY IN OUR WEAKNESS: A GIFT OF HOPE FROM THE BOOK OF REVELATION, Revised Edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002, pp.12-13. ISBN 0-8028-6069-9
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Ministries
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
TOPICAL INDEX FOR FORTY-THREE
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 1 (Ed Willmington):
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 2 (Carl Stam):
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 3 (Donald Hustad):
THE PLACE OF THE CHOIR IN WORSHIP: PART 4 (Ron Man):
HEALTH UPDATE & PRAYER REQUEST
FOR CHIP STAM, CANCER PATIENT
December 8 Treatment Update
Dear friends and family (and some strangers),
Once again, thanks for loving us and praying for us faithfully during this long (really long!) cancer journey. Journal entries and lots of pictures are found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/carlstam. God has been very good to us in so many ways, but we are tired.
GRAFT VS. HOST DISEASE—ROLLER COASTER
More of the same—my body is battling my new blood system. My various blood levels are up and down and up and down. I have some new medications to try to balance things out. Right now there is a little more itching (GvH rash) and a little less swelling. The LASIX helps with the swelling, of course, but keeps the patient rather close to the bathroom. Not fun!
APPOINTMENT WITH NEUROLOGIST
I went to the neurologist on December 1. They did about 90 minutes of testing on my arms and legs, mostly by shocking me at various places after drawing targets on my skin. Not fun! In fact, it REALLY hurt. I think they will get a new MRI of my lower back, but for right now, their guess is that I have normal peripheral neuropathy (tinkling and numbing) in both legs and feet (maybe hands, too) PLUS some possible nerve damage in my left leg dating back to some intense radiation to L3 and L4 in my spine back in November of 2007 when I was first diagnosed with cancer. More information on all of that soon, we hope. Prayers appreciated.
CHRISTMAS PRESENT IDEA—DORIS'S BOOK
Hey! Take a look at the material on the web site: MOUNTAIN EDUCATORS: THE DOUGHERTY FAMILY AND THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS OF APPALACHIAN. Doris's relatives started Watauga Academy in 1899 (Boone, NC), a little mountain school that finally became Appalachian State University. Please forward this information to ASU fans (www.tinyurl.com/mountaineducators). Can you tell this is the proud husband writing?
Please keep praying fervently for us; and don't forget to pray for and care for the cancer patients in your families, churches, neighborhoods, and places of employment. OUR STEM CELL DRIVE IS OVER. Thanks to so many who helped make it such a success. We gathered 1,853 new DNA samples in the database, and we raised over $55,000 to pay for the testing. This will save lives.
Straining towards Jesus,