For most of my adult life I’ve hated it when my birthday comes around. Suffering from mental health ailments which also have physical effects have made life difficult. In addition, my back has developed degenerative conditions over the last few years. I’ve had to give up quite a few things, many of which are various forms of exercise I’ve been so serious about since middle school years. (I still do what little exercise I can.)

There are a few reasons I don’t like my birthdays, the main one being that I (used to) wish I hadn’t been born. Life is too difficult and this world is fraught with evil and suffering. I seem to see the world through darkly colored glasses.

Last year at this time I was starting to feel “the dread” because I always get more depressed as it gets closer.

At that time I was going through 2 Corinthians and was looking closely at 4:17 which I’m familiar with in the NIV:

2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

But looking at the verse in other translations gave me a fresh perspective:

2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

2 Corinthians 4:17 NRSV
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure,

If I were to say that the glory in heaven will be 900 trillion tons and our suffering here, as bad as it can be (and I know mine is much less than many), is like one tenth of a gram, that wouldn’t show enough of a difference because that isn’t “beyond all measure.”

So last year God was teaching me to hope for heaven—when we are clothed with our heavenly bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53-54) and dwell in the new heaven and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13)—and have faith that when that time comes around, it will have been more than worth it and I will be very glad that I was born so that I could be with God forever seeing Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

It doesn’t make this life much easier but I need to ask God to give me the grace to have faith that it will be as He says it will be (2 Corinthians 1:20-22) and experience the hope for heaven in this life.

This year God is teaching me that it is His will for me to have been born and to live for Him. In the past, I knew it was His will for me to stay alive. Not to be morbid but what I mean is not to kill myself. That isn’t for me to decide, as much as I wanted to at some points in the past. But now, more than that, He’s teaching me that it’s His will for me to have been born in the first place (Psalm 139:16). And it is His will for me to be born again (John 1:13).

I’ve come to embrace this with joy, even if I don’t usually feel happy. And I’m certain that without suffering God wouldn’t have matured me spiritually as He has so far.

I’m taking a big risk in writing this personal information. Spurgeon and Luther were candid so why shouldn’t I be? I’m certain many of my blogging friends are or were in a place of similar or greater suffering. Some aren’t able to disclose for many reasons.

I’m not writing this for sympathy because I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to grow more than most and as worldly things have fallen away, my zeal for God and getting to know Him through Scripture has increased exponentially.

God works through suffering and I thought I’d write briefly about it here. It’s definitely a subject of interest for me. (I almost wrote that it’s one of my favorite subjects. That’s not quite the right way of putting it!)

I don’t like “Happy Birthdays” but if you’d like to give me a present (other than a book of course*) nothing would be better than praying that God would continue to teach me about Himself (Ephesians 1:17) and to find more and more joy in this (Romans 15:13).

My prayer for anyone reading this post:

Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace—
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.

All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

I hope this post isn’t too self-centered. I’d like to read it a year from now and thought it might be of benefit to someone else out there.

*I usually hate asking for things but it seems customary for bibliobloggers to make shameless requests for material goods when their birthday comes around, or whenever they feel greedy. (I eschew smilies.) So I thought I’d throw that in there. But really, prayer would bless me the most and be the best present I could get. And don’t feel like you need to comment. E-mail me with any prayer requests you have.

10 Responses to “Birthdays”

  1. 1 Peter M. Lopez

    In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I declare that God will shower you with grace, peace and joy.  Put on a garment of praise in place of the spirit of heaviness. God is good! All the time!  I pray that the Lord would make His face to shine upon you, and that you will walk in His favor the rest of your days.  These things I pray in the mighty name of Jesus.  Amen!

  2. 2 Nick Norelli

    I’ll definitely pray, although with Xmas approaching allow me to shamelessly request a book for my prayerful efforts. [insert wink smiley here].  And even though you said you don’t care for them, happy birthday anyway, may God bless you exceeding abundantly more than you can ask or think.

  3. 3 Stan McCullars

    I thank God for your ministry here.

  4. 4 David Ker

    Thanks for sharing, you old coot. I appreciate your vulnerability and hope in this post. I’ve enjoyed following your blog for the last several months.

  5. 5 Joel

    Jeff, This post makes the subscription worth while. You are in my prayers.

  6. 6 Nathan Stitt

    Thanks for sharing Jeff. I’ll keep reading the blog and your comments, and pray for you as well.

  7. 7 Michael Flynn

    The Holiday season (and birthdays) can be a very trying time for many folks, including myself.  Its funny, because my birthday is this week as wellWhat changed my perspective a lot is that I’ve made an overt decision to offer the Lord adoration and not a laundry list of wants/needs.  Roger Mugs over at theologer turned me on to this and its really started to change my perspective.  I’m not focusing on how great God is and less on how difficult my circumstances may be.  Its amazing seeing the greatness of God shrinks one’s problems down.Instead of looking horizontal, I now have a vertical perspective and I continue offer up the adoration to God and all that he has done.

  8. 8 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks for the comments and prayers.

    Nick is up to his usual scheming for books. But there is so much to learn.

    Michael, I’ve been in counseling in the past (don’t get me started) and nothing beats spiritual maturity, in which there is no shortcut, and getting to know God better. The more I get into the reality of the Kingdom and out of the apparent reality of this world, the better. I hope you have a nice birthday.

  9. 9 Robert Jimenez

    Hello Jeff,This is my third attempt to write you.  I keep fat fingering this post and I loose what I write.  I do appreciate your openness, and I agree that God does work through suffering.  He will shape our lives through it if we will allow him to.  I have never had to suffer physically the way you have so I won’t pretend to know what you are going through.  But I have had my share of suffering.  22 years ago my oldest brother was brutally murdered, I lost my two best friends in a span of 5 years.Several years back I had a major financial crisis where I lost every possession I had built up in the last 15 years.  Including our house that we owned.  It was so difficult, I was depressed, I felt abandoned.  I will get to the point as I don’t want to be long.  What I learned through all of these trails was that God was giving me opportunities to be transformed into the image of Christ.  Once I grasped this thought, it made everything bearable.  I grew so much closer to Christ than ever before.  I really began to understand Christianity in a way that no book could ever teach me.  I will keep you in my prayers.  Happy Birthday!

  10. 10 Scripture Zealot

    Wow Robert. I can’t imagine that stuff. Thanks for taking the time to write it (more than once). It’s encouraging to hear people’s stories.

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