Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guess Who's Back!

-from Jeremy

A gap in communication is one of those things that vary in acceptance depending on the relationship. I can go for a long time without talking to a State Trooper and it doesn't bother me. If I go a few hours without talking to Christy, then I lose my bearings a little. I don't know where this blog ranks in those standings, but I think by any measure it's been too long.

Some of you may well ask why we have abandoned our post (tee hee, pun intended), and some of you may not have noticed at all. There is no one reason why the spigot of hilarity and reality was squelched - it's the conspiracy of the mundane. Everything in life can pile up on you at times, right? For us, the pile consists mostly of feces with some mental illness sprinkled on top.

So, if you're curious about the 2nd-grade-aged boy running around my backyard in nothing but the skin the good Lord gave him for covering, yes, that is one of my sons. If your mind is of the steel-trap variety and you clench onto the question of, "what happens if he poops?" then your answer would be, "familiar calamity." He doesn't like clothes. And since he has endured more pain and difficulty in his short 7 years than most of you have known in your entire family tree, he gets to be naked in the backyard if he wants. I assume in the preceding statement that your family tree doesn't comprise surviving genocide or multiple generations living under the same bridge.

Josiah occasionally poops in the yard. Yes, from time to time the unthinkable becomes reality. I actually prefer the carport poop to the grass by the fence poop, but opinions will vary. Christy will likely say that the grass provides a natural mechanism to bio-degradation, but I like to know where poop is in relation to my feet, and therefore prefer the concrete. The tricky one is the traveler. This is a road-trip of a poop that may start in the shady environs of the carport but then move through the driveway and end by the swing set.

If we get lucky, then we catch him in the act. He is never allowed to be alone, yet watching him jump and holler in the yard can wear on the senses, so some of his guards will distract themselves. Olivia is more bookish than even myself, and our shared downfall is the page-turner that becomes the turd-smeller. Christy loves her some social media on her iPhone, but often will get a friend request she wasn't expecting. Jack doesn't require outside influence to be distracted - he is perpetually distracted. Jack can be literally standing on the offensive element and not realize it's disposition. As I've told him many times, in that father voice I've learned to affect, "one day you're gonna get hit by a bus."

Why do we put up with it? Why don't we do something? Well, what? After you've chased him down and diapered him for the umpteenth time, you start to feel like a Republican Congressman and just give up. You tell yourself that he pooped earlier and maybe you'll get lucky. Such delusion. You become dulled by his repetitious activity and think he won't deviate. A fool's paradise. Then he gets still all at once and it's all over but the Clorox.

Listen closely, my beloved. He was gonna die. You heard me, the doctors at the prestigious university medical center had given us a small chance at him surviving. Yes, we had heard the same thing about his brother Jack a few years before, but one is not bold in these matters. He was in a tight spot, medically speaking. We were terrified. We trusted God. We prayed that our little boy not escape our grasp as soon as he fell into it. Just let him live, Lord. And he lived. And he is still living! He's a fruitcake with nuts for icing, but he's ours and he's an answer to prayer.

So I put the question to any of you with precious little ones that are the apple of your eye. Would you rather them be snatched from your life or poop in your yard? I think I know the answer.

*For those parents looking for tips on how to prevent fecal smearing, check out our post entitled Poo Diggers. These outfits have been tremendously helpful, but, in the heat of the summer, Josiah insists on stripping when outside. And for's not worth the meltdown.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Happy 40th Dad and Mom!

-from Christy

I can't think of a better post to write than this one upon our return to the blog. We have had a long break for various reasons that will be explained in future posts, but today I want to focus on two people who make living with Autism a little easier every day.

My Daddy and Mama started dating when he was in college and she was in high school. Mama's brother John Lee was my Daddy's roommate at Bob Jones University. Mama has often told me that she knew she wanted to marry my Daddy when she was just fifteen years old. Today marks their 40th year of marriage, but, in some ways, I bet they feel like it was just yesterday when he took her on his college dating outing.

I had a blessed childhood, and my parents made a home full of faith, love, and service. They argued infrequently, and, when they did disagree, they made up quickly. They taught my older brothers and me the importance of loving God, loving each other, and loving others. If someone was to ask me to pinpoint the single most influential lesson my parents taught me, it would be "to do my best in whatever God calls me to for the glory of God and the eternal good of others." My Daddy always says to Finish well.

Often I think about the fact that my parents are not just grandparents to children with special needs. They are also parents to a daughter and son-in-law who have some pretty unique needs. They have had to actively parent me far longer than they probably ever imagined, but they have done this in love without ever complaining. When we need them, they are always there. They choose to help us in practical ways that make a huge difference in our ability
to just keep going. My parents greatest desire is to see us Finish well.

How does all this relate to Autism? I thank God every day that my parents taught me to focus on eternity. This life is not all there is. God has a perfect plan for us and our children, and we can trust in that on good days and bad. My parents have a marriage that has stood the test of time and trials. They have experienced joy and sorrow together, and their example is one that gives me such confidence in God's sovereignty and love for His children. They are the best parents and grandparents I know. They give me an even greater desire to Finish well.

Dad and Mama thank you for your faith, love, and support. Thank you for still taking care of me, and for so sacrificially caring for my family! Happy 40th Anniversary!

Daddy and Mama with their 40th Anniversary present (pictures of all the grandkids)!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Every Life Has a Story

I heard it said that if you treat everyone as though they're hurting, then you will be right most of the time. It's true - you never know what's going on in the lives and minds of the people you encounter. Maybe a lot of people who see my family in public think that Josiah is undisciplined and rude, and that makes me wonder about the wrong assumptions I've made about other people and their kids. I can certainly afford to be more generous with my kindness.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Looking Back and Pressing Forward

-from Christy

Josiah was almost eighteen months old. Jeremy and I had been thinking for a while that something was a little off, but we soothed our concerns with the idea that perhaps our sweet boy was just quirky. My Mama and Daddy had been suspicious too, but they waited a little while to say anything. My Grandmother was close to passing, and Mama knew it just wasn't the time to tell me that she was wondering about the possibility of Autism.

I remember sitting in the living room with Jeremy one evening. I'm not sure which of us pulled the website up with a list of warning signs for Autism, but there it was. We read the list, and we sat in disbelief. It was like reading Josiah's biography. It was undeniable. This was our boy. I cried in bed that night as we lay looking at each other with Josiah between us. We fell asleep wondering if this could be and what were we going to do.

I awoke the next morning on a mission. Mama suggested a few people to call, and those people suggested a few people to call, and then I talked to our pediatrician on the phone. Dr. Mertz has become a dear friend over the years. He has walked through many difficult trials with us, and I knew he trusted my mother's intuition. Dr. Mertz asked me what things were concerning me, and he agreed to make a referral to the Children's Developmental Services Agency for testing. Dr. Mertz and a few other precious friends gave me very clear direction those first few days. Our initial meetings with the CDSA confirmed our fears, and, by the age of two, Josiah received his official diagnosis of Autism. 

And so began the flurry of therapies. Speech, Occupational, and Educational. I researched and I made appointments with a neurologist and a developmental pediatrician. Josiah underwent an MRI with contrast and genetic testing. It was at our neurologists office that I first heard the term ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. The doctor assured us that the therapy is exceptionally costly, and he said that there were several other alternatives that would provide Josiah with every opportunity for development. He was right about ABA being expensive. Jeremy priced it, and, for one month of therapy, it would have taken our entire monthly income. It just wasn't a possibility. So I set out to learn about every therapy and early intervention we could get for Josiah. And we did them all. We drove to and sat through hours of therapy each week. I am thankful for those times because I now have the confidence that I did everything I could do. The therapies and therapists were good and so very supportive, but none of us had a clue just how severe Josiah's Autism truly was. 

Four and a half years later, our sweet boy has had almost no developmental gains. He now has the diagnosis of severe Autism and intellectual disability. We often hear from those working with him that he is one of the most severe children they have ever seen with this disorder. The Alamance Burlington School System (ABSS) just recently approved Josiah for homebound education, and they have brought in a well known ABA consultant to work with us. We are so thankful for this opportunity, but we are guardedly optimistic. We really like the consultant, and she understands and agrees with what we have been saying about Josiah for a long time. Our goals for him are the same, and she has given us many reasons for hope. Not hope like "maybe he will earn a PhD someday," but hope like "maybe he will potty train and maybe he will learn a few signs." Hope is a blessing! 

After our first few meetings, I was left thrilled about being hopeful, but heavyhearted that we were just getting access to ABA now. The therapy the consultant is using is actually a version of ABA called the Verbal Behavior Approach. The book we are reading makes so much sense. I have been left wondering why I have never been told about this book before. 

I know this is a lot of rambling to get to the point of this post, but here it is......To every Daddy and Mama out there wondering what to do, to every parent out there wishing they would have, and to every one asking what if, all you can do is your best today. God is in control. He gives us knowledge when He wants us to know. Our job is to do the best we can for our child with what God has given us. And so I am trying very hard to take my own advice right now. Stop what if-ing, Christy. Do all you can for this sweet boy today. Tomorrow will come, and God will give you the knowledge and strength for tomorrow. 

For all those Mama's looking for a way to start implementing ABA and Verbal Behavior techniques at home, here is the book you need. I am recommending it not because we have seen great gains yet, but because it is important to hope. Love and Blessings! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

from John Piper

Don't miss the Summary and Applications at the end. This is right where we live.

When Jesus Meets Disability: How a Christian Hedonist Handles Deep Disappointment

The Works of God Conference

God's Good Design in Disability

A Christian Hedonist believes that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. As Jonathan Edwards says,
God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.  When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it.  His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart.1
Which means that we can never reduce God-glorifying obedience to the actions of our body or our reason. God-glorifying obedience always includes the state of the heart.
[As Paul said,] Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
We can never reduce the virtue of giving to the act of giving. God loves a “cheerful giver.” He is more honored by joyful, hearty giving than by constrained, begrudging giving. And so it is with all our acts of love.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)
Physical actions alone, even the offering our bodies to be burned for others, are not glorifying to God where joy in him — treasuring him — is not the ground and goal of our actions.

The Sorrow of Deep Disappointment

So this puts a very high premium on the state of our hearts. Which makes the issue of profound disappointment with all its sorrows especially urgent. How does a Christian Hedonist experience the sorrows of deep disappointment? The shock of a baby born with multiple disabilities? The jolt of an accident that leaves you paralyzed for life? The experience of growing up from birth to adulthood on a path of fifty surgeries? A marriage dominated by the never-ending vigilance over a child, then an adolescent, then an adult, who can’t care for himself? The onset of a disease that gradually takes away your muscles till all you can move is your eyelids?
I take it as a given that these things cause sorrow, grief, pain, heartache, groaning, frustration, and deep and long-term disappointment. The Bible has much to say about how to think about suffering, and how to deal with suffering. But the Bible never denies that there is suffering. It never denies that Christians experience the powerful emotional effects of suffering: we groan, and we hurt, and we weep.
So my question, then, becomes, how is all this sorrow and grief and pain and heartache and groaning and frustration and disappointment experienced by the Christian Hedonist? By the person who believes that God is glorified most in all of us when we are most satisfied in him?

The Preciousness of God's Sovereignty

So my focus in this message is mainly on the inner-workings of the Christian soul, not mainly on the theological foundations of God’s sovereignty. It is true that, without God’s sovereignty over disability, the inner-workings of the soul that I am going to talk about would be impossible. So I will say a word about it. But mainly I want to describe from the Bible the paradoxical emotional experience for disappointed saints who believe that God is most glorified in them when they are most satisfied in him.
The reason the inner-workings of the Christian soul are not possible without the sovereignty of God is that the strength of hope and peace and joy and contentment and gladness and satisfaction and delight in God that sustain the soul in sorrows of life-long disappointment are rooted in the confidence that God has the authority, the freedom, the wisdom, and the power to accomplish all the good he has promised to do for his embattled children. In other words, no obstacle in nature, no obstacle in Satan, no obstacle in the failures and sins of man can stop God from making all my experiences, all my brokenness, all my adversaries, serve my eternal wholeness and joy. If you listen carefully to that, you can hear that my exuberance for God's sovereignty rests not mainly on his causality in the past but mainly on his powerful capacities in the future. In other words, the main reason God's sovereignty is precious is that he has power to fulfill impossible promises to me in my seemingly hopeless condition. His ruling the past, including my brokenness, is simply a pre-condition of this hope-filled power.
So let me give a very brief glimpse at this sovereignty.

In His Hands

One of the most sweeping and foundational texts on the sovereignty of God deals directly with disabilities. In Exodus 4:11 God answers Moses’ fear that his eloquence is insufficient for the task, “The Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?’” Disability of speech impediments, disability of deafness, disability of blindness — God says, are in his hands to give and to remove.
To which we may respond by asking: What about natural causes? What about Satan? What about the sins of others against us, or even our own sin? And the answer is that these are real, but that none is finally decisive. If any of these play a role in our disability — and they do — they do so within God’s sovereign plan.
For example, Romans 8:22–23 makes it clear that our physical groaning with disease and disability is owing to the fact that our bodies share in the fall of all nature into futility.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
So one cause of our physical and mental brokenness is that we share with the whole creation in its subjection to futility. But that creation is under the detailed governance of God. Last Sunday I preached2 on this and gave texts to show that the roll of the dice, the fall of a bird, the crawl of a worm, the movement of stars, the fall of snow, the blowing of wind, the loss of sight, the suffering of saints, and the death of every person are included in the word of God: “I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10). And in the word “He works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
So yes, there are natural causes for our disabilities, but none of these natural causes is ultimate, none is finally decisive. God is.

Under God's Governance

So it is with Satan. He is real. And he is involved in damaging and hurting God’s people, including physically and mentally (Acts 10:38). But he is under God’s governance. In the book of Job Satan must come to God for permission to hurt Job (1:12; 2:6). And when he has done his work, striking Job with loathsome sores (2:7), Job says, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”(2:10). And the inspired author of the book says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (2:10). And later said that Job was comforted “for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (42:11).
So, yes, Satan is real and no doubt has a hand in causing many diseases and disabilities. But he can do nothing without God’s permission. And what God foreknows and permits, he plans. And what he plans for his children is always for their good.

Even Sin and Its Effects

And so it is with sins. We may smoke our way into emphysema, or we may lose a leg because a drunk driver crashes into us. But neither our sins nor the sins of another are finally decisive in what happens to us. God is. And the Christian may write over every attack of nature, Satan, or sin the words of Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” And the reason we can say this, even though we are undeserving sinners, is that God said it first over all the sins that brought his son to the cross for us. Herod, Pilate, cruel soldiers, shouting crowds — you meant my son's execution for evil, but I meant it for good (Acts 4:27–28). That's the foundation of all the good God promises in and through our disabilities.
And the good God has in mind for his children is has an immeasurable number of layers. He means it for greater faith: 2 Corinthians 1:9, “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” He means it for greater righteousness: Hebrews 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” He means it for greater hope: Romans 5:3–4, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” He means it for the greater experience of the glory of God: 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
You, Satan, you, natural causes, you, sinner — you all meant my disability for evil, but God meant it for good — the good of greater faith, the good of greater righteousness, the good of greater hope, the good of greater glory. Or, as John 9:3 says, don’t even consider secondary causes: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Only God Is Decisive

So this conference is based on the conviction that even though nature and Satan and sin may have a hand in disability, and should be resisted with prayer and truth and medicine, nevertheless, they are not decisive. God is.
And therein lies, for us, not mainly a theological problem with the past, but an invincible hope for the future. If God is sovereign then nothing is too hard for him. And by the blood of his son he has promised infallibly: I will meet all your needs according to my riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). My power will be made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I will strengthen you and help you and hold you up with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). I will not let any testing befall you for which I do not give you grace to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).And I will take the sting away from your death with the blood of my son (1 Corinthians 15:55f). And I will raise you from the dead imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:52), and I will “transform your lowly body to be like my glorious body, by the power that enables me even to subject all things to myself” (Philippians 3:21).
And I will do this without fail because I am absolutely sovereign over everything and therefore, “I can do all things, and no purpose of mine can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). This is the foundation of our hope and the key to the inner-workings of the Christian soul. 

How Christian Hedonists Grieve

So that is what I turn to now: What is it like for a Christian Hedonist to experience the sorrows of deep, long-term disappointment in view of this kind of news? Or, more specifically, what is it like for a Christian Hedonist to grieve deeply, sorrow deeply, hurt deeply, and yet never relent from the conviction that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him?
One true and inadequate answer to the question of how the sorrow of disability relates to the pursuit of joy in God is that they are sequential. We move from sorrow into joy and from joy into sorrow. Each is real, and each occupies our heart and different times. For example,Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” So there is a season of sorrow followed by a season of joy. (See also John 16:22)
That’s true. There are seasons of weeping followed by seasons of great rejoicing. But if we stopped with that, it would be very superficial. It wouldn’t account for the deepest inner-workings of the Christian soul. The question would remain: During those times of weeping, can God be glorified also by a simultaneous (not sequential) experience of satisfaction in God, a simultaneous joy?

Simultaneous Rejoicing

That is the paradoxical emotional experience for disappointed saints that I want to point out from Scripture. The clearest expression of it is in 2 Corinthians 6:10 where Paul says, we are regarded as “sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” Which is followed by “as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10). Paul really means it when he says that he is sorrowful. The word (lupeo and congnates) is used 18 times in 2 Corinthians. This is Paul’s most grieving letter.
And well should he sorrow when you read the list of his burdens:
We commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities . . . imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger” (2 Corinthians 6:4–5). “. . . with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Corinthians 11:23–27).
When he says in 2 Corinthians 6:10 “sorrowful yet always rejoicing,” he means real sorrow. Real grief. Real pain. Not physical pain, but the emotional effect of pain. This is a real psychological state of Paul which we usually consider the opposite of joy. Sorrow tarries for the night; joy comes in the morning.
But that is not what Paul says here. He says, “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” In other words, he really meant it in Philippians 4:4 when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” He meant it when he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoicealways.”

A Paradox of Christian Experience

This is not a sequence of sorrow and joy. This is simultaneous sorrow and joy. Charles Hodge comments on this passage:
This is one of the paradoxes of Christian experience. The believer has more true joy in sorrow, than the world can every afford. The sense of the love of God, assurance of his support, confidence in future blessedness, and the persuasion that his present light afflictions shall work out for him a far more exceeding and and eternal weight of glory mingled with his sorrows, and give the suffering child of God a peace that passes all understanding. He would not exchange his lot with that of the most prosperous of the children of this world. (Commentary on 2 Corinthians, 164)
“Sorrowful yet always rejoicing” — this is the paradoxical emotional experience for disappointed saints. Paul is testifying that sorrow and joy are both possible at the same time in the same soul.

Same Time, Same Heart

Here is another example of it. This hits very close to home for any of us who may have family members or people we care about very deeply who are not saved. Paul says inRomans 9:1-3
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish.” Has Paul forgotten what he wrote: "Rejoice always, and again I says rejoice!" There is no reason to think he has. If you asked him, I do not doubt that what he would say is: “Anguished, yet always rejoicing.” Unceasing anguish. Unceasing joy. Not sequential, but simultaneous.
From a different angle he says the same thing in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” You might think that this can be sequential. But not really. The more people you know, and the more you care, the less sequential this can be. Right now you can probably think of someone you care about who is grieving. And you can think of someone you care about who is rejoicing. Paul’s testimony is that we can have deeply felt empathy for both of these people at the same time, in the same heart.

Discipline and Delight

This paradoxical experience of the Christian soul is less surprising when you realize that in the Scripture God himself is pictured as having this same capacity for paradoxical emotions. Consider Proverbs 3:11–12 which is quoted in Hebrews 12:5–6,
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, 12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
It’s the word “delights” that captures our attention. Because it’s in tension with “the Lord reproves him.” It won’t work to say that he is reproving the behavior and delighting in the person. No, he is reproving the person and delighting in the person. God can and does delight in us because of Christ and because of evidences of his own grace in our lives. But he also sees our defects and does not delight in them. God has pleasure in me, and displeasure in me at the same time. In fact, I would say, it is his pleasure in me because of Christ, that keeps his displeasure from being contempt, and makes it healing.
So let me draw the pieces together in a conclusion and then give you five applications.

A Summary Statement

God is so sovereign over the disasters and disappointments of our lives that he is able to make everyone of them serve our everlasting joy in him. This sovereign grace is the ground of our joy in the sorrows of deep disappointment. Not merely the ground of our joy after the sorrows of disappointment (as true as that is), but in the sorrows of disappointment. The Christian Hedonist does not merely pursue joy after sorrow. He pursues it in sorrow, in disappointment. His watchword in this life is 2 Corinthians 6:10, “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

Five Applications

  1. If you experience this paradox of emotions (sorrowful yet always rejoicing) you will never have to pretend. Your sorrow will be real. And your joy will be real. You won’t ever have to be ashamed of saying, “I am very sad,” because it will not contradict, “I am very glad.”
  2. If you experience this paradox of emotions (sorrowful, yet always rejoicing), you will be able to bear the weight of sorrow that is inevitable in a world of so much sin and brokenness. The joy you know, in the very moment of heavy sorrow, will keep that sorrow from crushing you. It doesn’t make your sorrow less weighty. But it does make your sorrow less destructive.
  3. If you experience this paradox of emotions (sorrowful, yet always rejoicing), your sorrow will not ruin the joy of others, and your joy will not offend the sorrow of others. Your joy will be deep with its roots in the springs of God’s grace — the very same grace that sorrowing souls need. And your sorrow will not be morose or gloomy or self-pitying. It will have real love in it that cares for the good of others, and will not ruin anyone’s party.
  4. If you experience this paradox of emotions (sorrowful, yet always rejoicing), the ministries of your church — from the worship service, to the youth group, to the ministry of disability — will be free from silliness and trifling, and will have the aroma of Christ, with his wonderful paradoxes. The aroma of Christ who wept over Jerusalem: “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41–42). Yet who “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children’” (Luke 10:21). He wept and he rejoiced over the same city in the same condition. The spirit that will pervade your church will be a joyful seriousness, and a serious joyfulness.
  5. If you experience this paradox of emotions (sorrowful, yet always rejoicing), the beauty and worth of Christ will always be exalted — because you are always rejoicing in him (and he is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him) — and the ugliness of sin and all its effects will be shown for they are — because your glad and healthy heart is made sorrowful by it.
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. May the Lord work this paradox — this miracle — in our lives.

By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website:

Monday, March 18, 2013