Tag Archives: Encouragement

John 16: Take Heart!

Posted by: 

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (v. 33)

I love how forthright Christ is when he promises trouble. Ease will be the exception. Peace, an anomaly. But then, there’s a glorious juxtaposition: he has overcome it. In fact, Jesus experienced it firsthand, as God in the flesh, which is why we can trust his claim that he has truly conquered it.

I remember taking comfort in this verse following my “coming out” online, when unbelievers unleashed their opinions on my faith and my commitment to honor God by remaining single. During that time, I could imagine — almost hear — Jesus speaking these words to me. And many, many times since.

“Take heart!”

Yes, the world has trouble, and it can feel unpredictable and chaotic. But at least Jesus told us up front, and gave us hope for those moments when we feel it most.

John 9: The Works Of God

Posted by: 

The story of the man born blind has always been comforting to me, because I also have an “abnormality” — in my sexuality — that I can’t necessarily attribute to any cause. Like the man’s blindness, same-sex attraction seems to have been with me since I was born. I didn’t ask for it, I don’t want it, and I know it’s not God’s original or ultimate intent for his creation. But it exists and persists in the “already/not yet,” even in the life of believers.

So, I was encouraged when I learned that C.S. Lewis, citing this very text, made the same connection between the blind man and the “homosexual” (to use his term). Jesus doesn’t explain to his disciples why the man was born blind, neither does God tell us why same-sex attraction might exist in the life of a Christian, but we can be sure of the end result — “that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3).

The works of God. Displayed in him.

Those continue to be encouraging words, even though sometimes that glorious end feels far away. In the meantime, my work is to believe, casting my cares on Christ, eagerly awaiting the day when the works of God are finally and fully displayed — even in me.

Tell Me Jesus Is Worth It

Posted by: 

About a year ago, a friend took me out for coffee and asked what he could do to help me when I’m struggling with faith, sexuality, or singleness. It was one of those moments you hope for — a friend who not only prays for you but also asks, “What more can I do?”

I fumbled over a few words (between gulps of white mocha) but couldn’t quite articulate what it is I really need during times of struggle. I’m not sure anyone had ever asked so directly, so genuinely. Whatever the reason, I was a bumbling mess in that moment, so I reached out to him a couple days later with a follow-up text:

“You asked how you can be a better support to me. Of course you already are, but I’ve been thinking about it more. Because I didn’t answer very well the first time. I think the best thing people can do is to remind me that Jesus is worth it. Tell me out loud, ‘Jesus is worth it.’ Because we so often forget — at least, I do. But the catch is, people have to really believe that themselves for it to be any real encouragement to me. Does that make sense? We don’t persevere in the faith because we like Christian values, or because we want to please our family, or even because we want to go to heaven. But because, in the end, we get to know and love and BE WITH Jesus! If he’s not worth it (or, more accurately, if we don’t remember that he’s worth it), then we have every reason to give up. So… That’s one way. Hugs and coffee dates and [your wife’s] amazing lasagna are a few of the other ways.”

My friend took his question — and my answer — seriously. I know because, since then, he often texts me with that precious reminder: Jesus is worth it. The phrase has even inspired its own hashtag. He’s always quick to respond with encouragement when I tell him, “It’s a #JIWI kind of night.”

As a single person committed to celibacy, but living in a world where sex reigns supreme, there are days when my mission to be happy in Christ comes to a screeching halt. I have fears about the future. Setbacks when I’m striving for holiness. Doubts about how long I can put up a good fight when the odds feel stacked against me.

During those times, I need someone to sit beside me — maybe even hold my hand — and tell me the old redemption story. Tell me about the God who became a man, walked among us, and built his kingdom. Tell me the truth about his death and resurrection, which I reenacted through baptism when I was a boy. Tell me he loves me, forgives me, walks with me, and is working all things for my good. Tell me you’re my brother or sister and you’re persevering with me, because that’s what saints do. Tell me Jesus is coming back and he’s making all things new — even now, as we sit here hand in hand.

On those nights when I lose focus and can’t seem to find joy in Christ, tell me what I already know: tell me Jesus is worth it.