The Hammer, the File, and the Furnace

It was the enraptured Rutherford who said in the midst of very painful trials and heartaches: Praise God for the hammer, the file, and the furnace! Let’s think about that. The hammer is a useful and handy instrument. It is an essential and helpful tool, if nails are ever to be driven into place. Each blow forces them to bite deeper as the hammer’s head pounds and pounds.

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Is Trauma Terminal?

The definition reflects devastation. Trauma: An injury (as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent . . . a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress. Like potatoes in a pressure cooker, we twenty-first century creatures understand the meaning of stress. A week doesn’t pass without a few skirmishes with those “extrinsic agents” that beat upon our fragile frames.

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Ultimate Rejection

A number of years ago, on Valentine’s Day, a couple was enjoying a romantic drive along a wooded section near Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Something white, shimmering in the trees, caught their eyes. Their investigation led them to a dead teenager hanging from a limb, a white bedsheet knotted tightly around his neck. A farewell note, laced with despair, was near the trunk of the tree. It was addressed simply to “Mom and Dad.”

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After the Avalanche, Part One

Job could write about wounds. His words were more than patronizing platitudes and armchair proverbs. He’d been there and back again. He could describe intense inner suffering in the first person because of his own sea of pain. Step into the time tunnel with me and let’s travel together back to Uz (not like the wizard of ___, but like the land of __).

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The School of Hard Knocks

Consistent interaction with God’s Word, regular time spent with a godly mentor, and a choice group of friends all combine to give us the greatest opportunity for growth in wisdom. To these, I would add one more suggestion. Pay close attention to life’s reproofs. Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;

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Confessing Despair

In David’s dark song of depression, recorded as Psalm 142, the king confesses his deepest feelings of isolation and despair. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. (142:3) David feels enveloped or wrapped up in his depression, so much so his spirit feels faint and feeble.

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A Song of Sadness

Psalm 116 is the lament of a man surrounded by grief and sorrow, most likely because death has touched his life. Let’s take a few moments to probe a little deeper into a song of sadness. The first line of the psalmist’s song is surprising. He writes, “I love the LORD, because . . . ” (116:1). In the nineteenth century, a young English girl, Elizabeth Barrett, suffered a spinal injury at age fifteen that left her a semi-invalid for many years.

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Sadness Abounds

It is easy for those who are strong and healthy to forget how many tears of sorrow and grief are shed every day. All around this aching world—perhaps in your own home or in your heart this very week—sadness abounds. Tears fall. Grief has you in its grip. And it can happen so fast. I remember speaking with a young man on our support staff at a church I once served. He was all smiles about his future, such a contagious fellow.

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Adversity versus Prosperity

Whether or not you realize it, life is a perpetual struggle to maintain balance between various opposing forces. Over the next few days, we will examine some common extremes that threaten to pull us off balance. The first is the tug-of-war between adversity and prosperity. When reflecting on the effects of adversity, the sages of Israel wrote, If you are slack in the day of distress, Your strength is limited. (24:10)

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A Tactical Advantage

Having predicted your success in battle against the attacks of the devil (Psalm 91:5–10), this Psalm continues with several commitments from the Lord. He has promised to give you a tactical advantage, which the songwriter enumerates in the final verses. Assistance against Evil. God has promised to send angelic assistance when we face attacks from supernatural realms.

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