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Though my “pastor’s pen” has been inactive for the past couple of months, today I pick it up to praise our great and gracious God.

A year ago, my life took a physical turn for the worse and, over the past few days, the calendar has caused Jill and I to reflect often upon God’s kind and faithful providence. It has helped us to rejoice more in the Lord. I trust that what I share will help each of us to reflect reverently on God’s providence in our lives, moving us to consistently rejoice in him.

What we had assumed would be a standard and simple procedure went horribly wrong, eventually leading to several weeks in the hospital, including protracted time in ICU, six months away from my work, and nine months till full recovery.

There were times when I thought I was going to die, and other times when, to be frank, I wanted to die. I have a pretty high pain threshold, but the stabs of pain were excruciating, and I worried how long I would survive. I remember sitting in my lazy boy watching the livestreamed wedding of James and Jodi. My water-logged legs looked like those of a prop forward, discomfort in my abdomen shot through to my back, and my concentration level was not so level! The next day, I was back in hospital where I would be for the next two and a half months.

Before this transpired, I was as fit as a fiddle, having logged nearly 3,000 km of running during the year. But soon I would lose over 12kg, be nourished intravenously, hooked up to oxygen, two drains put in my sides, and, with the assistance of a physiotherapist, shuffle around the ICU exhausted as if I were running a marathon. But today, all of that is history. It is both a bad and yet a blessed memory, for I have experienced God’s amazing kindness.

I am back to regular running, my appetite and weight are normal, and, having missed so much ministry, I will end the year having preached some forty times. Rather than spending the holidays in ICU, I have every reason to expect to spend them with my family. Yesterday, we put up our Christmas tree and Jill reminded me that, last year, with all that was transpiring, she left it in the box. Though she would celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, she would not be celebrating it with me at home. What a year. But more so, what a God!

Every day I see numerous scars on my body. The scars remind me of that trial, but more so, they remind me of God’s good faithfulness. Reflection, like confession, is indeed good for the soul. Reflecting on God’s providence produces both reverence and rejoicing. For example, this past Lord’s Day, I saw Judah Beetge and was once again reminded of the kindness, and the power, of God. Reflection on our trials is a good thing. Though we should not be dominated by past hardships, we should use such reflections to deepen our devotion to as well as our dependence on our great God.

Tomorrow, I plan to preach from Philippians 4:4–7 at the memorial service for Wayne Allen. This passage emphasises that Christians are to rejoice in the Lord—always. That was Wayne. As he would reflect on his many trials, he did so reverently, blessing the Lord for his lovingkindness, for his faithful love. Reverence and rejoicing were the result of our brother reflecting on God’s presence in the trials of his past. That is a good lesson for all of us. I am trying to practice it. Let me encourage you to do the same.

Reflecting, revering, and rejoicing with you,