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Christlikeness Is Something To Long For, Not Be Delivered From (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn is supporting his wife, Nanci, through her season of cancer.
God is supporting them both.
He writes about the experience of God using the very situations that nobody wants as the circumstances in which faith and Christlikeness grows:

If asked, “Do you want to be closer to Jesus, and more like him?” we all know what we should say. Yet, if God answered all our prayers for relief from suffering, he would be delivering us from the very thing we say we want. Christlikeness is something to long for, not be delivered from. It’s not easy to pray, “Please do whatever it takes to make me more like Jesus.” But when he does whatever it takes, we should trust him.


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Gospel, Cancer & True Prosperity (via Mockingbird)

Mockingbird has an article by Ethan Richardson that reflects upon the writings of Katie Bowler who has cancer and has recently written on so-called ‘prosperity’ theology.
The interaction of her study on the subject, her sickness, and Richardson’s reflections point out the way in which prosperity theology impoverishes the Christian life as it deals with mortality and eternity.

It is a perversion of the Gospel that physical death and ill-health could be equated with a lack of faith.
“Certainly, no amount of positive thinking is enough to stave off metastasis–but what’s worse, under the conditional framework of the prosperity gospel, your metastasis may be proof of something. It may mean you didn’t believe hard enough or think positively enough.”
Richardson quotes Bowler:
“The prosperity gospel has taken a religion based on the contemplation of a dying man and stripped it of its call to surrender all. Perhaps worse, it has replaced Christian faith with the most painful forms of certainty. The movement has perfected a rarefied form of America’s addiction to self-rule, which denies much of our humanity: our fragile bodies, our finitude, our need to stare down our deaths (at least once in a while) and be filled with dread and wonder. At some point, we must say to ourselves, I’m going to need to let go.”

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.

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A Compelling Testimony About Chronic Sickness And God’s Goodness

Watch this.
Amber Kay Satterfield (formerly Doran, she has recently married) speaks of her experience of chronic sickness; God’s presence; and ways people can truly incarnate the grace and love of God.
The tendency to want to fix the pain of those who are ailing is so strong that we need to absorb these perspectives over and over.
Stay right to the end.
ht here and here.

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What Not To Say To People Who Are Suffering (via Gospel Coalition)

Paul Tripp, Tullian Tchividjian and Dave Furman make some wise observations about the conversations we have with those who are enduring seasons of suffering.
I especially found helpful their comment about the tendency to categorise suffering, as if telling people about greater suffering than theirs opens doors instead of creating barriers with suffering people.
These sorts of videos are helpful to watch from time to time because I find the tendency to say something well-meaning but unhelpful returns again and again.


One Miracle After Another – Jozua’s Progress

For anyone following Jozua’s situation I’m hope the infrequent updates are not too much of a frustration.
I’ve been conscious of preserving some of the family’s privacy, though they have been so very generous in providing updates and news.
But it seems appropriate to share a bit more detail more widely.
Last week I mentioned that Jozua was breathing on his own.
Over the last week everyday has bought news of progress toward that for which we are praying.
Most exciting for us was news that came on Sunday.
This is his father’s account (grab a tissue):

Today, after the church service we attended, we walked up to Jozua. He was lying there with his eyes open, looking very clearly at us. We put on his glasses. We then started asking him, to identify where David was, and he looked David’s way, where Anne was and he looked Anne’s way, and to look where Naomi was and he looked Naomi’s way. When Diana returned from getting him some ice cubicles we did do the same and he looked to all again! We rejoiced in this and Jozua smiled with the great smile he has. What a joy to see him and Jozua seeing and recognising us. We then had a little green card with YES and a red card with NO and we asked him if he wanted another ice cubicle. He lifted his hand and went directly to YES. We were so happy and Jozua gave us another smile! Rejoice! This day cannot go wrong anymore! It’s like getting your son back from the dead. It is like Lazarus rising from the grave. It’s like losing a brother for Anne, David and Naomi and getting him back! Elijah prayed and it did not rain for 3.5 years. All God’s people prayed and God has brought back Jozua within 3 weeks!
Sunday is the day we are reminded of Jesus’ resurrection. It is also great to have Jozua back on this side of heaven and have this day. It is a great day!

As yet Jozua still needs lots of sleep, and has not been able to speak.
He is starting to take some food.
And he smiles.

So do we all, as we continue to pray for healing, with much thanksgiving.
Jozua’s mother puts it best:

We continue to pray for Jozua’s recovery, but also that everyone who has been touched by this may know the same God. He is right there, knocking at your door and waiting to be let in, so you will have His peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) with whatever happens in your life. If you already know Him, share it around. He’ s the best gift ever, for He saves His people from their sins (Matth 1:21).


Good News

Yesterday Jozua was able to breathe without a tube and it seems his eyes were attracted to a video which was shown to him.
There’s still a long, long way to go, but this was very encouraging news for his parents and siblings, along with all of us.

At the end of such an exciting and draining day, late in the night, Jozua’s parents prepared Christmas cards for dozens of staff members at the hospital.
Because today his parents believe there is even better news to hear.

A blessed Christmas to you all.


Be Strong And Courageous – An Update On Jozua

Yesterday’s late evening update from Jozua’s mother contained the news that sedation is being reduced, but he has not yet regained consciousness; some bodily movements have been observed, which is good news primarily because it seems to indicate no paralysis; concerns for restoration of normal bodily functions and protection against infections continue; and that in their new relationships and contacts lots of people are finding out where the Zwijnenburgs are getting the strength for this season from.
They’re thankful for prayers and numerous tokens of support that are being received in Adelaide.
And they commend James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” as a text that is providing great encouragement to them.

This song is pretty much our staple at the moment.