Back so soon! Yes, I am.
I was going to upload my draft of chapter one two weeks ago, and then last week, but life took over as you realize from reading my previous two posts.
Uncle Bud is dancing in heaven, or whatever he is doing. I know my dad is dancing. What would Uncle Bud be doing? I hope you read my last post about him. I’d like to upload some more pictures and a video of Aunt Mary being given the folded flag by a military representative of the president of the United States, followed by the 21 gun salute and taps. Very moving. Maybe I’ll do that yet this fall. Keep an eye out!
I’ve revised my chapter one for my upcoming Bible Study, A Traveler’s Guide Through Suffering and Joy, and I want to make it available to you for your blessing and to offer me constructive input. I’ve made available the chapter of introduction, and I expect to upload chapters 1, 2, and maybe 3. You can print them and put them in a binder to use. And if you’re not interested, just enjoy the posts.
Readers of the downloads should know that chapter one is a set-up for the theology of suffering and joy that will be explored in the following chapters. The chapter of introduction sets up the project. Chapter one sets up the practical theology to be explored in the chapters to follow.
Here is a draft of chapter 1:
Chapter 1 A Traveler’s Guide – Three Cosmos
Now, for those of you who are not interested in perusing the Bible study, let me encourage you (and every reader) with the words of a hymn, “Come, Ye Disconsolate.” I’ve seen three verses to this hymn, but the first two were written by the Irish poet and author, Thomas Moore, who lived from 1779 – 1852.
Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.
Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”
How do these words minister to your heart? What Scriptures support its theme?
Thomas Moore’s life was not one that I would hold up as an example of Christian piety, but I am sure there is more to him than what I’ve read. He lived a worldly life, it appears to me. I’m not sure of the depths of his Christian faith, but he did write a good number of hymns. (I believe I read 32.) His wrote much poetry as well as biography, satire, and other works.
Moore did experience much suffering in his private life. All five of his children died young — in infancy, youth, or young adulthood. The one who lived the longest lived to be 27. The parents outlived their children. Interestingly, this hymn was published in 1816, before any of the children died. The first to die was the following year. God had given him solace before he needed it. I wonder if his own hymn ministered to him and his family.
Well, that’s pretty sad. Hmm. Not where I wanted to end this. Yet, there is serious and needed consolation in this hymn that is not sad, but communicates a quiet sweetness which is quite clear in verse two.
We don’t need to know anything about the author of these words to find them useful — as a balm and encouragement.
“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot cure.” Isn’t it interesting that just as our past can impact our present, so also our future expectations can influence our today?
Actually, we can leverage our future to grasp support and strength for today. Not only is there comfort here; there is motivation. Listen to Hebrews 12:1-3, and hear the encouragement and motivation. Jesus provides both the inspiration and the strength:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus, for the joy set before Him — leveraged His future to draw stamina for the current calling.
I’ve thought of this concept often, and wanted to share this idea with you. I have to ask Jesus to help me leverage that eternal perspective for the current moment, because it does not come naturally to me. It is supernatural.
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.”
Uncle Bud is cured.
Aunt Mary, his wife of nearly 41 years, is banking on the cure.
So am I.
I have just finished reading through your initial drafts of the following;
* Introduction, Parts A & B * Chapter 1: The Three Cosmos
For those whose spiritual pathway is intellectual, this combination of narrative and proposition (robust theology!) could be a balm-like study. Readers/students who depend on media (stimulated senses) for spiritual influence will depend on external reinforcement from others to “plod” through “heady” verbiage. So far, both the explanation of concepts and the questions for reflection offer a systematic approach to the topic of suffering and joy that encourages depth and truth.
Now that I have given you my general impression, I need to make this disclaimer: what appeals to me as a 72 year old male who has a graduate degree from a seminary and has taught the subject over the years probably will not appeal to your average audience. This study you are preparing will need thinkers and readers like its author. I say this to encourage you, Karen, to use your rare gift to minister to those who hunger for spiritual insight rather than drugs to navigate the pain and suffering in their lives. The Bible book store is filled with the lighter version of Bible study, but you must remain true to your unique calling.
Carry on with your writing! Capitalize those limited hours allowed by your body to develop what you have started—to write with creative momentum rather than rewrite for perfection. Be yourself and trust God to give you a readership of his selection.
Especially strong for me is your fine attempt to engage the reader with your thoughts as well as the words of Scripture. I especially like your challenge to the reader to define and describe his/her experience as a “pedestrian theologian.” Earlier you ask the reader to summarize his/her drawing towards such a study.
I will stop now, but in the end if you sense that your study has become too lengthy and/or cumbersome, I could help with the task of finding ways to shorten, clarify, and simplify. Meanwhile, keep the additional chapters coming my way, and I’ll offer my feedback.