Repost: Birthdays

I’m sick today on my birthday weekend. I don’t usually mention it’s my birthday because I’m not much for them and don’t really like all the ‘Happy Birthdays’ and attention on me other than my family. But I’m really disappointed and down about being sick at this time in addition to feeling miserable.

My wife always does her best to make me feel good on my birthday which is really nice so I do have that.

I wanted to go back and read my post on birthdays from a year ago so I thought I would repost it here.

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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 {put cursor over Scripture reference}) 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. I like praying for others.

8 Responses to “Repost: Birthdays”


  1. 1 Jonathan Sharman

    “…man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3b). – MOSES

    “… It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). – JESUS

    I pray that you hear God’s voice and be comforted. It’s true that God’s word is the bread of life – but his voice is sustenance to the spirit. Be encouraged by this to live as Christ lived – not for his purposes and his own joy – or even to make others happy, but for the will of the father. I think you’re in a good position to do so, having plowed soul ready to accept seed with open arms. For even of the greatest of the Old Testament Bible heroes, none of them failed to fall short of the glory of God, as we cannot be perfected without Christ – and it is through his spirit that we are lifted up to righteousness. I bless you, and pray that you hear the voice of God and hear his new words for you alone afresh. Happy birthday. 🙂

  2. 2 Gary Zimmerli

    Jeff, we celebrate your life among us.

  3. 3 Iris

    I am so sorry you are not well on this your birthday week-end. I am praying for you and for your family also. I, for one, am glad you were born and are the Lord’s. He treasures you and so do those of us who read here.

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    Very nice writing Jonathan and thanks Gary and Iris. I slept all day and felt just better enough at night to have a little pizza and soda and watch tv with my wife. I’m still weak and queasy but better.
    Jeff

  5. 5 Peter M. Lopez

    Jeff, a belated happy birthday, but I don’t think you will ever be too self-centered. Blessings, my brother.

  6. 6 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks Peter

  7. 7 Geoff

    Hey man,

    I’ve had similar thoughts about certain physical problems I’ve had. If you ever want to talk about how much our bodies can suck in a way not designed to offer solutions, you have my email.

    Geoff

  8. 8 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks Geoff. I’ll keep you reply in my inbox. I see you lift weights which I used to love to do.
    Jeff

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