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Just a Whisper

By |2023-11-29T01:33:30-05:00November 29th, 2023|

The whispering wall in New York City’s Grand Central Station is an acoustic oasis from the clamor of the area. This unique spot allows people to communicate quiet messages from a distance of thirty feet apart. When one person stands at the base of a granite archway and speaks softly into the wall, soundwaves travel up and over the curved stone to the listener on the other side.

Job heard the whisper of a message when his life was filled with noise and the tragedy of losing nearly everything (see Job 1:13–19; 2:7). His friends blabbered their opinions, his own thoughts tumbled endlessly, and trouble had invaded every aspect of his existence. Still, the majesty of nature spoke softly to him about God’s divine power.

The splendor of the skies, the mystery of the earth suspended in space, and the stability of the horizon reminded Job that the world was in the palm of God’s hand (26:7–11). Even a churning sea and a rumbling atmosphere led him to say, “these are but the outer fringe of [God’s] works; how faint the whisper we hear of him” (v. 14).

If the world’s wonders represent just a tiny fragment of God’s capabilities, it’s clear that His power exceeds our ability to understand it. In times of brokenness and disappointment, this gives us hope. God can do anything, including what He did for Job as He sustained him during suffering.

Our Anchor of Hope

By |2023-10-17T02:33:22-04:00October 17th, 2023|

I held up a picture of people sleeping under pieces of cardboard in a dim alley. “What do they need?” I asked my sixth grade Sunday school class. “Food,” someone said. “Money,” said another. “A safe place,” a boy said thoughtfully. Then one girl spoke up: “Hope.”

“Hope is expecting good things to happen,” she explained. I found it interesting that she talked about “expecting” good things when, due to challenges, it can be easy not to expect good things in life. The Bible nevertheless speaks of hope in a way that agrees with my student. If “faith is confidence in what we hope for” (Hebrews 11:1), we who have faith in Jesus can expect good things to happen.

What is this ultimate good that believers in Christ can hope for with confidence?—“the promise of entering his rest” (4:1).For believers, God’s rest includes His peace, confidence of salvation, reliance on His strength and assurance of a future heavenly home. The guarantee of God and the salvation Jesus offers is why hope can be our anchor, holding us fast in times of need (6:18–20). The world needs hope, indeed: God’s true and certain assurance that throughout good and bad times, He will have the final say and won’t fail us. When we trust in Him, we know that He will make all things right for us in His time.

A Choice

By |2023-10-07T02:33:07-04:00October 7th, 2023|

A few weeks after the death of a dear friend, I spoke with her mom. I was hesitant to ask how she was doing because I thought it was an inappropriate question; she was grieving. But I pushed aside my reluctance and simply asked how she was holding up. Her reply: “Listen, I choose joy.”


Her words ministered to me that day as I struggled to push beyond some unpleasant circumstances in my own life. And her words also reminded me of Moses’ edict to the Israelites at the end of Deuteronomy. Just before Moses’ death and the Israelites’ entrance into the promised land, God wanted them to know that they had a choice. Moses said, “I have set before you life and death. . . . Now choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). They could follow God’s laws and live well, or they could turn away from Him and live with the consequences of “death and destruction” (v. 15).


We must choose how to live too. We can choose joy by believing and trusting in God’s promises for our lives. Or we can choose to focus on the negative and difficult parts of our journeys, allowing them to rob us of joy. It will take practice and relying on the Holy Spirit for help, but we can choose joy too—knowing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

Ready to Go

By |2023-10-05T02:33:17-04:00October 5th, 2023|

During the coronavirus pandemic, many suffered the loss of loved ones. On November 27, 2020, our family joined their ranks when Bee Crowder, my ninety-five-year-old mom, died—though not from COVID-19. Like so many other families, we weren’t able to gather to grieve Mom, honor her life, or encourage one another. Instead, we used other means to celebrate her loving influence—and we found great comfort from her insistence that, if God called her home, she was ready and even eager to go. That confident hope, evidenced in so much of Mom’s living, was also how she faced death.

Facing possible death, Paul wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. . . . I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:21, 23–24). Even with his legitimate desire to stay and help others, Paul was drawn to his heavenly home with Christ.

Such confidence changes how we view the moment when we step from this life to the next. And our hope can give great comfort to others in their own season of loss. Although we grieve the loss of those we love, believers in Jesus don’t grieve like those “who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). True hope is the possession of those who know Him.

Every Grief

By |2023-07-25T02:33:31-04:00July 25th, 2023|

“I measure every Grief I meet,” the nineteenth-century poet Emily Dickinson wrote, “With narrow, probing, eyes – / I wonder if It weighs like Mine – / Or has an Easier size.” The poem is a moving reflection on how people carry the unique ways they’ve been wounded throughout their lives. Dickinson concludes, almost hesitantly, with her only solace: the “piercing Comfort” of seeing at Calvary her own wounds reflected in the Savior’s: “Still fascinated to presume / That Some – are like my own –.”

The book of Revelation describes Jesus, our Savior, as a “Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (5:6; see v. 12), His wounds still visible. Wounds earned through taking upon Himself the sin and despair of His people (1 Peter 2:24–25), so that they might have new life and hope.

And Revelation describes a future day when the Savior will “wipe every tear” from each of His children’s eyes (21:4). Jesus won’t minimize their pain, but truly see and care for each person’s unique grief—while inviting them into the new, healing realities of life in His kingdom, where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4). Where healing water will flow “without cost from the spring of the water of life” (v. 6; see 22:2).

Because our Savior has carried our every grief, we can find rest and healing in His kingdom.

Hope Beyond Consequences

By |2023-07-06T02:33:21-04:00July 6th, 2023|

Have you ever done something in anger you later regretted? When my son was wrestling with drug addiction, I said some harsh things in reaction to his choices. My anger only discouraged him more. But eventually he encountered believers who spoke life and hope to him, and in time he was set free.

Even someone as exemplary in faith as Moses did something he later regretted. When the people of Israel were in the desert and water was scarce, they complained bitterly. So God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions: “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water” (Numbers 20:8). But Moses reacted in anger, giving himself and Aaron credit for the miracle instead of God: “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then he disobeyed God directly, “raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff” (vv. 10–11).

Even though water flowed, there were tragic consequences. Neither Moses nor Aaron was allowed to enter the land God promised His people. But He was still merciful, allowing Moses to see it from afar (27:12).

As with Moses, God still mercifully meets us in the desert of our disobedience to God. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He kindly offers us forgiveness and hope. No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, if we turn to Him, He’ll lead us into life.

It’s Empty Now

By |2023-06-13T02:33:03-04:00June 13th, 2023|

My brothers and our families spent the day moving our parents’ belongings from our childhood home. Late in the afternoon we went back for one last pickup and, knowing this would be our final time in our family home, posed for a picture on the back porch. I was fighting tears when my mom turned to me and said, “It’s all empty now.” That pushed me over the edge. The house that holds fifty-four years of memories is empty now. I try not to think of it.

The ache in my heart resonates with Jeremiah’s first words of Lamentations: “How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!” (1:1). An important difference is that Jerusalem was empty “because of her many sins” (v. 5). God exiled His people into Babylon because they rebelled against Him and refused to repent (v. 18). My parents weren’t moving because of sin, at least not directly. But ever since Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden, each person’s health has declined over their lifetime. As we age, it’s not unusual for us to downsize into homes that are easier to maintain. 

 I’m thankful for the memories that made our modest home special. Pain is the price of love. I know the next goodbye won’t be to my parents’ home but to my parents themselves. And I cry. I cry out to Jesus to come, put an end to goodbyes, and restore all things. My hope is in Him.

Sorrow and Joy

By |2023-05-31T02:33:11-04:00May 31st, 2023|

Angela’s family reeled with sorrow as they experienced three bereavements in just four weeks. In one, after the sudden death of her nephew, Angela and her two sisters gathered around the kitchen table for three days, only leaving to buy an urn, get takeout, and attend the funeral. As they wept over the death of Mason, they also rejoiced over the ultrasound photos of the new life growing within their youngest sister.

In time, Angela found comfort and hope from the Old Testament book of Ezra. It describes God’s people returning to Jerusalem after the Babylonians destroyed the temple and deported them from their beloved city (see Ezra 1). As Ezra watched the temple being rebuilt, he heard joyful praises to God (3:10–11). But he also listened to the weeping of those who remembered life before exile (v. 12).

One verse especially consoled Angela: “No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise” (v. 13). She realized that even if she was drenched in deep sorrow, joy could still appear.

We too might grieve the death of a loved one or mourn a different loss. If so, we can express our cries of pain along with our moments of rejoicing to God, knowing that He hears us and gathers us in His arms.

Enduring Hope

By |2022-11-25T01:33:14-05:00November 25th, 2022|

Doctors diagnosed four-year-old Solomon with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle-degenerating disease that primarily affects boys. A year later, doctors discussed wheelchairs with the family. But Solomon protested that he didn’t want to have to use a wheelchair. Family and friends diligently prayed for him and raised funds for a professionally trained service dog to help keep him out of that wheelchair for as long as possible. Tails for Life, the organization that trained Callie as my service dog, is currently preparing Waffles to serve Solomon.

Though Solomon accepts his treatment with resilience, often bursting out in song to praise God, some days are harder. On one of those difficult days, Solomon hugged his mom and said, “I’m happy there is no Duchenne’s in heaven.”

The degenerating effects of sickness affect all people on this side of eternity. Like Solomon, however, we have an enduring hope that can strengthen our resolve on those inevitable tough days. God gives us the hope and promise of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). Our Creator and Sustainer will “dwell” among us by making His home with us (v. 3). He will “wipe every tear” from our eyes (v. 4). “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things [will pass] away” (v. 4). When the wait feels “too hard” or “too long,” we can experience peace because God’s promise will be fulfilled.

Reasons to Rejoice

By |2022-10-19T02:33:12-04:00October 19th, 2022|

When Ms. Glenda walked into the church commons area, her infectious joy filled the room. She had just recovered from a difficult medical procedure. As she approached me for our usual after-church greeting, I thanked God for all the times over the years that she had wept with me, gently corrected me, and offered encouragement. She’d even asked for forgiveness when she thought she’d hurt my feelings. Whatever the situation, we always ended up praising the Lord.
Mama Glenda, as she lets me call her, wrapped me in a gentle hug. “Hi, Baby,” she said. We enjoyed a short conversation and prayed together before she left—humming and singing as always, looking for someone else to bless.

Mama Glenda always invites me to share my struggles honestly and reminds me that we have many reasons to praise God.

In Psalm 64, David boldly approaches God with his complaints and concerns (v. 1). He voices his frustrations about the wickedness he sees around him (vv. 2–6). He doesn’t lose confidence in God’s power or the reliability of His promises (vv. 7–8). He knows that one day, “The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him, all the upright in heart will glory in him!” (v. 10).

As we wait for Jesus’ return, we’ll face tough times. But we’ll always have reasons to rejoice in every day God has made.

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