No Greater Joy



Many of us are familiar with the children’s book by Michael Rosen (1989) “Going on a Bear Hunt.”  As the story goes there are obstacles on the path that is being followed in order to catch the bear.  The long wavy grass, the deep, cold river, the thick oozy mud, the big dark forest, a snowstorm, and a cave are obstacles on the way to find the bear. As the story goes, “can’t go over it, can’t go under it, we’ve got to go through it.”  In other words the obstacle cannot be avoided.  In order to get to the other side, we must go through it.


Life is pretty similar to this children’s story.  We can’t go over, under, or around; we must go through the obstacle.  These obstacles in the paths of our lives are also tests of our character.  We try to go around, over, or under the obstacle; but God in His desire for growth in our lives keeps prodding us back to the path through the obstacle.


I have watched our daughters go through various trials over the course of the last year, and as much as we wanted to go around some of these trials or pray them away; God in His infinite wisdom steered them back through the trial.


Danielle began a beautiful relationship with a young man at the beginning of 2016.  My heart has been thrilled as I watch this relationship follow the pattern of a godly relationship that focuses on Christ and how He can be glorified through their relationship.  They spend time in God’s Word each week sharing what God is doing in their hearts and lives.  They have set physical boundaries that keep them pure.  In August, after struggling with his health for many months, Aaron was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  The news was devastating for everyone, but Aaron being a fighter met this challenge head on and Danielle along with his many family members and friends walked beside him through the challenge of chemo.  She was able to keep up her studies, a job, and twice weekly visits to Columbus, an hour away from Cedarville University, to sit by Aaron as he received chemo and encourage him since he was confined to keep him free of infections.  Through all of this, Aaron and Danielle grew in their walk with the Lord together and were a testimony for all to see.  There was never any complaining or questioning God’s plan, rather there was complete faith in God for the challenges that lay before them.  Aaron is now cancer free and returned to Cedarville to continue on the next part of the journey God has for him.  “Gotta go through it!”


Denise has gone through many challenges in her short life of eighteen years.  As she began to prepare for her college years this past summer, she made the difficult decision to not play soccer for Cedarville University.  She chose to play intramural soccer so she could spend more time on her studies and develop friendships.  Even though I had encouraged her to play for the university, I watched her make this difficult sacrifice of something she loved in order to focus on the true purpose of college-studying, learning, and receiving a degree.  In October, during one of her intramural games she tore her other ACL.  (She had torn the other one a few years earlier playing soccer).  After surgery, the surgeon told me she should no longer play soccer.  As I watched this sweet girl go through this, I saw the joy of the Lord continue to emanate from her life and be an example to those around her.  She completed her semester at Cedarville despite having surgery.  Through all of this there was never any bitterness toward God, but rather a faith in God and the journey He had her on. “Gotta go through it!”


Delaney having never moved in her life was faced with the challenge of moving from her childhood home, childhood friends, and all she had ever known.  As a junior in high school, she knew that life would not be the same.  Yet, now six months later God has allowed her heart to be more sensitive and observant of the needs of others.  She sees that even when we resist the changes that God has in our lives, if we trust Him for the results He will bless us in ways that we never dreamed were possible.  “Gotta go through it!”


As I watch the growth of these sweet girls, I praise my Lord for what He is doing in their lives.  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (III John 4).  As we have grown and walked together through these struggles, I am thankful that rather than going around the trial in their own strength they have chosen to walk with God “through it!”


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