Many of you know about my dear friend Hugh Vickery, Interior Department spokesman and speechwriter (Hugh also teaches a Bible study for Interior Dept. employees every week). You have prayed for his wife Amne, who has battled cancer for more than ten years, and for their children Ian, Bladen, Oliver and Hannah. Mostly, you have been blessed by the ongoing testimony of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and their determination to honor Him in all things, including the great physical and emotional challenges brought on by Amne's condition.
Recently, Hugh has also been facing some physical ailments of his own. He's a very active, robust and athletic fellow, and has long threatened to utterly shellack me if we ever get on a golf course together. :):) I'm sure he will, but presently he's temporarily facing some painful and difficult issues of his own that are making life difficult personally, and also in his ongoing determination to take good care of Amne and the family. I'm confident that he'll be fine, but your continued and enhanced prayers for Hugh, Amne, Ian, Oliver, Bladen, and Hannah will doubtless be much appreciated.
I share this with you to encourage those prayers, but also to share with you a blessing that happened this past weekend. Ian brought home 20 of his friends from Penn State for weekend to work on a charitable project. On Sunday morning, the young people asked Hugh to teach a message from the Bible, and he shared with them passages in James and I Peter that promise joy and God's keeping in the midst of the most difficult trials. Consider the power of such truth coming forth from a man who has known so much difficulty in his wife's long illness, and now in dealing with his own. I doubt that those young people will ever forget the truth that shined forth not only in word, but in living and tangible expression of the truth that trusting believers "bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (II Corinthians 4:10).
I am greatly blessed and honored to be the friend of such believers. And I mindful also that in the 10+ years we have sent out the Orange Moon devotionals, so many of you have been to me the same burning and shining light gleaming brightly in the pain of your particular challenges. I know that many of those challenges continue until this moment, and be sure that I am offering thanksgiving and prayers of intercession for you even as I type these words. You all amaze me, and I can hear you even now chiding me. Yes, I know. Your Lord amazes me even more.
The world has no natural explanation for how Hugh could teach such a message as he did this past Sunday. Satan has no weapon against the God-enabled determination I have witnessed in so many of you that rejects despair and embraces the joy of the Lord Jesus in the midst of sorrow. And few men are as blessed as am I to see the risen Lord Jesus once again walking the earth, albeit this time in the hearts, hands, and feet of so many brothers, sisters, and friends. I am most grateful.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
(I Peter 1:3-8)
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."