Sick In The Valley of Suck: The First Chapter I Left Out

I hate being sick.  I mean, no one really likes being sick, right?  This week it just seems to suck more than usual.  This should be a crazy, fun week! I published a book! Yeah! Turkey hunting season is about to begin! Yeah! Both my kids are about to be drivers! Yeah (or not)!  But nope, I’m sick with a head cold that is just a brute.  

Life sucks.  Seek God.

And that is the problem too.  When I’m sick, I have a hard time with my spiritual practices.  I had very particular plans regarding praying with prayer beads throughout Lent this year.  Plans for specific things to give up.  But when I am sick, it all just goes out the window.  And without Heather here, my kids have to face the reality of their only parent being sick and the truth she protected them from their whole lives: I am a big baby when I get sick.

Today though, I’m pushing through.  Yep, I’m a real trooper here and trying to think on God today.  Partly, I am thinking about something I may have left out LIFE SUCKS SEEK GOD.  I’m guessing most authors probably feel something similar at times. I’ll probably think of a few more that will go into a future revision.  

Maybe it was my kids sharing with me over the past few days their worries about the future.  Maybe it was my own insecurities of publishing my own book.  Maybe it is just this stupid cold.  Whatever it is, I started thinking about the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.

Here is what got in my head...who sustains the two sons?  I know, it is obvious right? The father.  But stay with me.  Just think through all the father did along the way.  He built up a fortune and birthrights for both his sons. He gave away an inheritance to the younger and continued to always have his eyes on the horizon.  He continued to provide for the older son, trusting him and sustaining him as he took care of the father’s household.  The father clearly never lost sight of this either.  Both sons take for granted the father has been there for them all their lives.  

That is what hit me.  That is what I left out of the book.  I left out grace.

Why do I say that? Because among all the things the valley of suck has taught me is I cannot sustain my faith - only God can do it.  God’s grace sustains our faith.  We can fall back on God precisely because God is THAT FATHER who does not abandon us; does not get upset when we say we wish he were dead or when we thumb our nose in God’s face for providing for us.

Call it grace by any name you like: common, prevenient, or original.  Call it blueberry for all that it matters - while grace may provide the freedom to turn to God, it is still God’s grace and none of us have that in us by any measure other than what God gives to us.  We so do not comprehend the fullness of grace.

And do we really want to dismiss the God of the Old Testament?  The Psalmist clearly understood there to be a God in heaven whose grace was not only supportive but protective in nature.  I think just two samplings are sufficient for this regard...

I  lift up my eyes to  the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who  made heaven and earth.
He will not  let your foot be moved;
he who  keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:1-4)

He will  cover you with his pinions,
and under his  wings you will  find refuge;
his  faithfulness is  a shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4)

I cannot sustain a simple practice of praying simple breath prayers when I’m sick with a cold for crying out loud!  What kind of faithless fool am I??  How wounded and weak am I??  I cannot sustain even something so simple.  No.  I cannot.

And this is why we dare not depend on or put faith and trust into our spiritual practices - they do not make us holy.  They do not make us “good Christians.” Our penance only states the fact of our fallenness, not our ability to forgive ourselves.  

Life sucks and we seek God because God is precisely where we are going to receive our help.  God’s grace alone has sustained me.  The habits which nurture holiness are gifts of grace to growing a more intimate relationship with Immanuel.  They do not save us or redeem us.  They make us aware of how much more we need to seek God when life sucks.

To get Ken's new book Life Sucks Seek God click here to buy on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.
Image used with permission:

Life Sucks Seek God - First Thoughts On A Book I Didn't Want to Write

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Everything changes.  Nothing changes.

Writing a book changes things and yet nothing changes at all.  The work of writing a book, be it an eBook or traditional hard-copy, or published or self-published is so much like the journey through the valley of suck.  Once done, it is done.  You put it out there with hopes it might make a change in a person's life.  Hopefully many people's lives.

This was not the first book I intended to publish but I am glad it is available first.  All along, since I started this was to offer something I could not do on a blog - a concise and practical help for nurturing faith during difficult times and situations.  There are much longer books on the subjects of suffering and pain. There are more pastoral books that comfort and provide care.  This is not those books.

I cover two things primarily in Life Sucks Seek God.  The first is my very real and very simple path to coming to believe in a God worth trusting in during the worst of times in my life.  The second part is to take that faith in God and combine it with simple descriptions and directions for spiritual habits - "faith hacks" - if you will.  These are for everyday use not just my rambling.  I help you with the very things that have helped me through the years and especially the trials of the diagnoses and death of my wife, Heather.  It is also about the days, weeks, and months after her death.

Heather's prayer was that her life and fight would be used to help point people to God.  My prayer is this book might be used to fulfill this prayer she had.  This was a ministry I never wanted and one I would gladly relinquish but I can't. This is why it is free now and will never be more the .99 in the Amazon Kindle store and available to be loaned too.

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