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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



Tim Ritter, in Deep Down, told about a patient at the dentist's office who tried to lighten her fear by listing her middle name as "Wimp." After a little while the receptionist stepped into the waiting room and said, "The doctor will now see the wimp." Four people got up. Webster's Universal Dictionary defines wimp as "a weak or ineffectual person." The dentist's office is not the only place where some people prove to be wimps. Some people wimp out in the face of pain and suffering. Thirty years of preaching have exposed me to many moments of pain in the lives of other people and in my own. Two truths have become clear. First, pain is a reality of life. The Bible and human experience make clear that sooner or later we all do some suffering. In Jesus' words, "in the world you will have trouble" (John 16:33 NIV). There is a 100% chance of rain as regards the storms and problems of life. Second, not everyone responds to life's cross-like experiences the same way. To put it bluntly, some people suffer not only more than others, but some suffer better than others. At the first sign of hardship, some people wimp out. They not only begin to cry and complain and moan and groan — they never let up. They develop a chronic "why-me" mentality and become bitter, not better. But there are others who, after the initial and very normal response of shock and grief and denial and even anger, begin to face their suffering with resolve and determination and faith. Instead of blaming God or insisting He explain all His ways to them, they are driven to lean more completely upon God. They face their cross with courage and bear it in dependence upon God. In doing so, they truly become better, not bitter.

John Wayne said, "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." That's what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane as recorded in Mark 14:32-42. As He contemplated the cross with all its physical and spiritual horrors, Mark says Jesus was "troubled and deeply distressed and exceedingly sorrowful, even to death" (14:33-34). Jesus struggled desperately in the Garden, falling on His face and praying repeatedly that if possible, "the hour might pass from Me," and that the Father would "take this cup away from Me" (14:35-36a). But Jesus did not wimp out in the Garden. He wrestled in prayer until He could finally say to God, "not what I will, but what You will" (14:36b). What cross-like experience are you facing that creates agony and dread? It takes courage to do God's will, especially when God's will is in conflict with what you want. To carry the cross of self-denial requires courage. Wimps need not apply.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ