Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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How to Persevere, When You Don’t Know What to Do

We’ve all been impacted, one way or the other, over the past 18 months by the COVID-19 pandemic. You or someone you know may have had COVID, or perhaps you lost a loved one to the virus. You may have been forced by your employer to either get a COVID vaccine or lose your job. We have all had to wear face coverings, and as I write this, my state still has an indoor “mask mandate”. Your young children may have been forced to wear masks at school or learn online. We could go on about how COVID has changed our world, including an increase in depression, loneliness, and isolation.
About 6 months into the COVID pandemic, I lost my father to heart disease. A little over a month before that he had travelled to Chicago to have a heart procedure. Stores were boarded up and we were advised to not be outside after dark due to the rioting/looting.  Our hope had been that this surgery would prolong his life. Instead, he quickly declined after the procedure, and we don’t really know why.
Just 8 months later, my brother and his wife both contracted the virus, and were hospitalized. Although Julie was released after 3 days, Mike’s case was much more severe. Before he was put into a coma to be placed on the ventilator, he was told by the doctor that they didn’t think he would make it. Whether he would survive or not was very much up in the air. Although a Christian for nearly 40 years, the thought of losing my brother drove me to begin each morning on my knees, a discipline that I have continued. Mike would eventually come home after 53 days in the hospital. As I write this, our community has lost 263 people to COVID. It is only because of God’s amazing grace that Mike survived his battle with the virus and is doing well.
And then about a month and a half later, my mother-in-law woke up one morning confused and weak. At that time, she was a mentally sharp 89-year-old, living in her own home. After a week and three visits to medical facilities, she was admitted to a hospital, where she remained for 3 weeks. As I write this, it has been just over 8 weeks since that time. She has not improved, and is in a long-term care facility. She is mentally confused/delusional and does not have the use of her legs.  Lots of tests have been run, but we still have no answers as to what caused the change in her condition, and may never know.
The effects of the COVID-10 pandemic, the above impacts on people close to me, as well as the loss of a dear friend who died from a nearly 15-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, has frankly rocked my world. I feel like I have aged 10 years. And I know that many of you have gone through an even more difficult time. What are we to do when life gets so difficult? Should we just approach life with a stiff upper lip? How can we persevere as Christians during adversity? Continue reading


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A Prayer for Those Going Through Trials

Heavenly Father, this morning I pray for those who are going through trials of various kinds. The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:14: “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us”.

  • For those dealing with health issues, either their own of that of a loved one. I pray that you would give the doctors wisdom in treating the illnesses. I pray for your peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding, as they wait for test results (Philippians 4:7), test results that could change their lives forever. For those facing cancer and the necessary treatments, strengthen their bodies and use the chemotherapy or radiation to kill the cancer. Restore them to full health Father and give them courage for the journey.
  • For those dealing with relationship issues. I pray for a healing of relationships, whether it be in marriage, friendships, parents and children, the workplace, etc. Healthy relationships are so important to us. Heal these relationships and give all involved humility to apologize or forgive as is necessary.
  • For those dealing with job-related trials. I pray for those who are worried about their jobs being eliminated, which is such a real fear these days. I pray for those who report to a difficult boss and for those who are having difficulty learning their jobs. Job-related trials can impact our entire lives, resulting in a lack of sleep and depression. We pray for mercy to be extended to those facing trials at work.
  • For those who are going through money-related trials. I pray for those who regularly face more month than money in their bank account. I pray for those who are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. I pray for those facing debt, be it medical, educational, credit card, etc. Bless those facing these trials with a better paying job, or friends who can help them to manage their money better.
  • For those desiring to be married. I pray for those who are single or widowed and long to get married. There is certainly nothing wrong with being single. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote that it would be good to remain single as he was if you could do so without sinning. (1 Corinthians 7:8,9). But many who are single long to be married. This is a painful longing. For them I pray that you would provide them a godly spouse.
  • For those desiring children. Children are a wonderful blessing from God. Some choose not to have children, but others are at this time not able to have children, though they deeply long for them. I pray that you would guide them to medical personnel with wisdom. Should they not be blessed with children of their own, I pray that you would open their hearts to adoption.

Father there are so many facing trials today. I’ve touched on just a few situations, but there are so many more that you are aware of. Encourage your children who are facing trials today. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.


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6 Things I Have Learned from Those Who Suffer

I was first introduced to the concept of suffering as a vocation in R.C. Sproul’s 1988 book Surprised by Suffering. See my review of and 15 helpful quotes from the book here. Suffering can come in many ways – physical suffering, loss of a loved one or job, loneliness, etc. l have previously written about “Encouragement in the Midst of Loss” here).
Sproul’s purpose in writing the book was that Christians would not be surprised when primarily physical suffering comes into their life. He wanted us to see that suffering is not uncommon nor random. No, it is sent by our Heavenly Father, who is both sovereign and loving for our ultimate good. He also wants us to understand that suffering is a vocation, a calling from God, a concept that will be new to many.
In a fallen world, suffering is going to come to all of us. You may be suffering now, or you may be caring for someone who is. Sproul tells us that suffering is one of the most significant challenges to a believer’s faith. I often wonder how nonbelievers deal with suffering without the strength found in Christ, who Himself was called by God to greater suffering than anyone who has ever lived.
Continue reading


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“We Sure Could Use a Little Good News”


Last week I talked to a long-time friend at work.  She mentioned the anxiety and worry many were feeling about significant organizational changes in our workplace, two major hurricanes (Harvey and Irma), the recent death of the daughter of a teammate, but most of all the terrible murder/suicide that involved two people who I knew and worked with.  This tragic news stunned and saddened our workplace and community.  Feeling weighed down, she said, “we sure could use a little good news”.

Life is hard and there are times when it seems like there are more bad things happening than at other times. I felt that way earlier this year as I thought about a number of recent losses in my life. Read my article “Encouragement in the Midst of Loss”.  We worry about many things, such as our vocations (jobs), health (ours and others we care for), relationships, finances, the spiritual lives of those we care about, etc. In addition, many families, including ours, have been shattered by the suicide of a loved one.

Last year, as I looked back in the rearview mirror at certain key events in my life and my wife Tammy’s life, I saw how the Holy Spirit has used terrible, difficult and painful experiences for good toward our journey in being conformed to His image. Read my article “Looking Back at Life Through the Lens of Romans 8:28”.   I believe that we may not know all of the reasons why some things happen to us in this lifetime, but we can rest in knowing God is using them for our good and His glory.

I’m writing on a Sunday afternoon after hearing a wonderful sermon from my pastor entitled “God is Glorified in Afflictions”.  It was the beginning of a new series on 2 Corinthians. Chapter one of the book addresses how affliction among Christians is redemptive when we don’t waste it. That’s an interesting concept that you may not have thought of. The entire sermon is worth listening to. You can check it out here:   http://christchurchpca.org/sermons

So in the midst of your worries and suffering, listen to the words of Jesus from John 16:33 ~ “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and frustration and suffering, but take courage [be confident and certain, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

The ultimate good news we all need is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  About the Gospel, R.C. Sproul writes:

“The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well-being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.”

I’ll let R.C. Sproul have the final words of good news:
“The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.”

When you put your full trust in Jesus Christ, will you experience less suffering?  No.  But He has promised that your suffering will not be in vain, and He will give you eternal Hope!  He is faithful to give you His courage, strength, comfort and peace as He walks difficult roads alongside you.  I would appreciate any thoughts you have. Blessings to you, and thanks for reading.


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Encouragement in the Midst of Loss

Lately, I’ve become aware of a number of losses in my life. Perhaps this describes you in this season as well. This is not to be unexpected in a post-Genesis 3 fallen world. Still, there are many losses that I am aware of in recent days, including:

  • The news that a dear friend, who has bravely battled cancer for years, has gone into hospice care.
  • Saying good bye to dear friends from church as they move to Tennessee.
  • Saying good bye to two team members that, even though I had only worked with them for about four months, I very much enjoyed getting to know them and they will be missed.
  • Hearing that a dear woman from church has had a recurrence of cancer after more than twenty years.
  • Walking with dear friends from church as one of them walks the path of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The upcoming one year anniversary of my father-in-law’s home-going.
  • Meeting a new team member who is walking with a brother battling cancer.
  • Hearing of a close relative’s loss of their dog that was dear to them.
  • Good friends who experienced three deaths in ten days, including two parents.

I hate cancer. I hate death. I hate good-byes.

And yet for the believer, we know that this life is as bad as it will get. We have much to look forward to. We have hope. Hope of no more cancer. Hope of no more tears. Hope of reuniting, with not only friends who have moved away, but of loved ones who have died. No more waiting on medical tests to find out if the cancer has spread. No more suffering.

John in Revelation 21:4 tells us:
He will wipe away every tear from their (yes our!) eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.      

But until Heaven, how are we to persevere in this fallen and broken world, when life is so hard and there is so much loss all around us? Consider some of this encouragement from Scripture:

  • For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  Romans 8:18
  • Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3-4
  • Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1
  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10
  • Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4
  • But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:27
  • Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7
  • “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

And of course there are so many more passages from Scripture that provide us comfort and encouragement in the midst of loss. What other verses or passages from the Bible have provided you comfort in the midst of loss?

There are signs of new life as the Midwest embraces spring. As I write this, farmers are in their fields preparing their land for planting. Soon, there will be small little corn and bean plants in perfectly shaped rows emerging in our rich black soil. The redbuds and crabapple trees today are just stunning. There are new buds on our maple tree and fresh green growth on our evergreens around our patio. God is faithful. He will be with you, in the good times and bad.