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.
~ The Apostle Paul – II Corinthians 4:16-18
“How you respond to the troubles in your life will go a long way toward whether or not you ever, ever, ever develop courage, ever develop patience, ever develop compassion, ever develop sobriety and humility, ever develop any of those things. Don’t waste your sorrows.”
~ Tim Keller
Sam: “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: “What are we holding on to, Sam?”
Sam: “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
~ “The Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers”
“Well, how is John Quincy Adams?”
“Thank you,” he said, “John Quincy Adams is quite well. But the house where he lives is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it, and it is becoming quite uninhabitable. I shall have to move out soon. But John Quincy Adams is quite well, thank you.”
~ John Quincy Adams
“I have seen great beauty of spirit in some who were great sufferers. I have seen men, for the most part, grow better not worse with advancing years, and I have seen the last illness produce treasures of fortitude and meekness from most unpromising subjects.”
~ The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis
“Our bad things turn out for good. Our good things can never be lost. And the best things are yet to come”
~ Jonathan Edwards
“The simple truth is, life is hard. It never will be as good as we want it to be, and it will inevitably become painfully difficult for everyone before it’s over.
“So the question is, how then should we live? What story should we tell with our lives? To achieve what? My life is telling a story. Your life is telling a story. If there is a good story to tell, one that gives me solid hope through bad times that good times lie ahead, and one that releases me to live with joy and purpose now, I want to know it and live it.”
~ Larry Crabb
“Why fear death, it’s the greatest adventure of all.”
~ Peter Pan
“If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line – starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King’s Highway past appropriately named dangers, toils, and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City.
But that is not the way I have done it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order.
The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises.
Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested upon bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led – make of that what you will.
~ Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
~ 1 Peter 4:19
The hope of the Christian faith is dependent on God’s display of strength, not ours. God is in the business of destroying our idol of self-sufficiency in order to reveal himself as our sole sufficiency. This is God’s way —he kills in order to make alive; he strips us in order to give us new clothes. He lays us flat on our back so that we’re forced to look up. God’s office of grace is located at the end of our rope. The thing we least want to admit is the one thing that can set us free: the fact that we’re weak. The message of the Gospel will only make sense to those who have run out of options and have come to the relieving realization that they’re not strong. Counterintuitively, our weakness is our greatest strength.
It is the last Sunday of Advent: let there be light, and let it begin with me. Let others see the Light inside me, through my cracks and dents. More Light! Each day will be a tiny bit longer; the Spring is coming. We are so much closer to the Spring the we were in the glory days of September. it’s time to plant bulbs. No, no, you didn’t blow it – it’s never too late. We plant them in the cold and dark, in rocky soil that nicks our fingers, and yet when they bloom, daffodils and paper whites, each one is like a candle with a stamen, not a wick. They remind us that nothing – nothing! – is ever lost. It just may not be its time to appear yet. Bulbs and then . . . wait . . . wildflowers.
Once on a cold dark mid-December’s day, I happened to be at the Book Depot in Mill Valley with Wendell Berry, who said gently, “It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.” I love that so much.
~ Anne Lamott
“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
~ C. S. Lewis
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
~ Anne Lamott
“We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.”
~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
“If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.”
~ Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
~ Steven P. Jobs
“You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out – perhaps a little at a time.’
And how long is that going to take?’
I don’t know. As long as you live, perhaps.’
That could be a long time.’
I will tell you a further mystery,’ he said. ‘It may take longer.”
~ Wendell Barry, Jayber Crow
Death is to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”
~ Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
It’s a question of being so pitiful that God takes pity on us, looks down and says, ‘He’s done for. Let’s give him a few good words.
~ Walker Percy
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
~ C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
I’m standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She’s an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other. And then I hear someone at my side saying, “There, she’s gone.” Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she’s gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” …And that is dying.
– Author Unknown