UpBuilding Men, Women, and Children in Practical Christianity

November 2002 Monthly Letter

Dear Partner In Ministry,

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.”
2 Corinthians 4:8

During the UpBuilding Weekends, I usually preach one of three sermons that I have seen our Lord effectively use over the years.

Each time He refreshingly turns ‘old water into new wine’ for each new congregation of hearers.

As I was leaving First Presbyterian Church in Santa Paula, a petite woman named, Sue, gave me this letter, prefaced by her comment: “Your sermon on Staying Up In Down Times was just for me!”

“During the last 18 months I have lost so much: loss of my husband to death; loss of my only surviving sibling to death; loss of both of my breasts to cancer; loss of most of the vision in one eye to muscular degeneration; loss of all my writing when my computer hard drive died.

I had chemotherapy and radiation. They caused weight loss, lethargy, and painful burns.

I celebrated Easter less than a week after my husband died and our wedding anniversary a month after his death. Together with a few friends, his birthday was celebrated without his physical presence. The same was true for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How can I ‘truly celebrate’ when my whole world has crashed around me?

Your preaching about Paul’s trials reassured me of God’s presence right in the middle of all these circumstances and gave me renewed comfort, encouragement, and HOPE!

Yes, I have mourned and grieved; I have cried tears of sorrow, anger, and frustration. I have hurt physically and emotionally, but never spiritually.

Verses 10 and 11 (from 2 Corinthians 1:8-11) reminded me of what I have gained over these last 18 months. I have gained the faithful prayer support of the members of my church AND a depth of faith in God that I never would have had if my life had remained as it was. Do I think the gains outweigh the losses?

I would have chosen a different path than the one He chose for me. But through it all, His faithfulness has given me the courage to face life with joy in the midst of sorrow; peace in the midst of chaos, and HOPE in the midst of confusion. And so, the answer to my question is ‘Yes, I know the gains outweigh the losses.’ Thank you, Reverend Rand!”

Thank you, faithful partners, for helping me to upbuild those who are downtrodden!


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