March 9, 2014

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…”  Philippians 3:8

Angry Gopher

Angry Gopher (Photo credit: *~Dawn~*)

I walked my nine acres of unproductive farm-ground in hunt for the only thing my property produces in abundance – gophers.  The rains of March have cleared my land of snow and sapped the frost out of the ground.  As green sprouts begin to push out toward the surface, other monuments to spring have been appearing across my acreage – the miserable gopher mounds.  I have a gopher problem substantiated by last year’s trap total of 126 gophers.  I have written about my hate of gophers before (Trapped Like a Miserable Gopher).

In response, I have picked up my ritual of gopher trapping.  I walk across the fields carrying a five gallon metal bucket filled with traps and flags that creates a rhythmic beat as trap chains beat against the bucket’s metal side with each step.  My shovel acts as a walking stick, keeping time with each step across uneven ground as I scan the surfaces ahead for any irregularities.

glaukos / Foter / CC BY-NC

While I hate gophers, I enjoy gopher trapping.  The menial nature of trapping allows me to pray and think as I haphazardly meander from one suspicious dirt mound to another.  On this day, the beating of the chains against my metal bucket drew my mind to the song “It is Well with my Soul” and thoughts of this last week.

My week contained a very unexpected discouragement.  It was another notable discouragement in a series of discouragements that have spanned the last several years.  Therefore, the lyrics of this song became more of a question than a statement.

Is it well with my soul? 

Foter / Public Domain Mark 1.0

“When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot”…have I been taught to say, “It is well with my soul”?  I consider what has transpired over these last several years and contemplate much of what I have been taught.  I have not experienced anything even remotely close to the tragedy of Horatio Spafford, author of “It is Well with my Soul”.  I know how materially and relationally blessed I am.

Yet,I think that years from now when I look back on this decade of my life, I will recognize it as a time of sustained pruning.  I have been taught such important lessons through all these discouragements.  I have been taught that there is only one thing upon which we can place our hope.  My lessons have come by the loss of many things that I unknowingly held dear.  It was only through the curtailment of these treasures that I discovered just how much I overvalued them.  I have lost my health to cancer, wealth to business failures, respect to employee intrigues, service to a Church plant closing, and friendships to disregard.

As I cleared dirt from the gopher hole I had just dug up, I mentally tried to clear away the debris of feelings in my search for an answer to the question of whether it truly was well with my soul.  I look back at what I have learned from each of these experiences. Upon each loss, I have chosen Christ.  There has not been anything that I have lost that has made me question the love of Jesus Christ for me.  In fact, my disappointments have drawn me closer to him.  When I have been stripped of what I value, I have come to recognize that it is not precious in comparison to Christ.  I stood in an empty field as pockmarked with gopher mounds as my life with disappointments and I sang:

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

It truly is well with my soul.  I know that my losses are insignificant in comparison to some but I am learning to cherish each loss because of what I have come to deeply know through them.  It has only been through disappointment that I have learned to rest in the blest assurance of Christ.  I had not realized how blind I have been to my pride and discontentment.

Foter / CC BY-SA

I gazed at my house in the distance and know that I have so much more that can be lost.  I mentally imagined losing it all – would it still be well with my soul?  Can I count all that lay before me as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord?  I cringe at the thought of walking the same path as Horatio Spafford.  I immediately know that I could not endure that on my own but I also know that I would not have to.  Today’s troubles are sufficient for today, there is no need to fret about the losses of tomorrow.  My Lord’s hand is strong and he will provide the strength needed at the precise time of need.  Therefore, I sang:

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I know that my days of trouble are not over.  I have many disappointments in my future that will teach me many lessons that I have yet to learn.  My hope is that I will learn from these previous disappointments in order to handle future losses in a more God glorifying manner.

This recent loss has revealed another blind spot in my life.  I thought that I was living joyfully.  I thought that I was showing to the world that I cherished Christ more than the treasures of this world.  However, I have learned that the imperfect manner in which I let go of those things that I highly valued, had more of an effect on people that I care for than I had realized.

I have grumbled about unfairness.  I have moped over what should have been.  I have withdrawn in sadness and defense.  I know that I have walked joylessly for significant periods.  I guess I had hoped it had not shown.  I have learned that my sinful response to loss has been a discouragement to others with considerable ramifications.  I unknowingly allowed loss to become a repelling stench to some rather than a God glorifying aroma that draws others to my Lord and Savior.

Foter / CC BY-SA

I have learned the importance of being a shining light in this world particularly in times of personal loss.  I am prone to selfish navel gazing.  However, God is most glorified when others can see us counting everything as loss in the mist of the loss.  There are consequences to wallowing in our despair.  Others are encouraged in their faith when they observe us holding firmly to Christ and allowing the cares of this world to easily slip from a loose grasp.  It is our losses where we can show others the great hope that we have.  I cannot change the past but I can plan for the future.  Therefore, I hope to learn from my past and embrace future losses with an eye to glorifying God in all circumstances.  May the Lord grant us all the strength to look beyond our loss, and demonstrate to the world watching where our true hope resides.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for all the losses that you have allowed in my life.  Thank you for revealing to me what I have been esteeming more than you.  Forgive me for holding on too tightly to the things of this world.  Forgive me of my pride.  Forgive my of my lack of contentment in you and you alone.  Father, forgive me for missing the opportunity of glorifying you in my losses and showing the world around me how wonderful you are.  Protect and encourage those who I have let down and discouraged.  Lord, I praise your name (It is Well ~ Kutless).  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

How to Count it All as Loss

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  1. Wonderful article.

  2. Incredible testimony of how, if we listen, God will reveal Himself to us…whether through nature or through another’s testimony. Loved this–“May the Lord grant us all the strength to look beyond our loss, and demonstrate to the world watching where our true hope resides.”

  3. I don’t know you and yet you have taken the time to bring to my mind, in a christian and Christ-like manner, an area in my life that I must address. Thank you and May GOD richly bless you and keep you.

  4. Yep, suffering is the bridge to perfection. Chastisement is not only punishment, but it is also “son-training”. It is an effectual working of the Holy Spirit in us and through us, designed to be abrasive to the “flesh” and destroy its influence on us.

    Hebrews 12: 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

    God bless. Love your Blog.

  5. You are so right, JD: “It is our losses where we can show others the great hope that we have. I cannot change the past but I can plan for the future. Therefore, I hope to learn from my past and embrace future losses with an eye to glorifying God in all circumstances.” So true, and so well said. Thank you!

  6. Any tips for voles? Seriously, thanks for sharing so personally. I get your point about not being joyful in the face of loss. I don’t think I’ve learned that lesson yet either.

  7. I’ll tell you what – this echoes much of my own walk, even being only four years in the faith. But He never gives up on us. Here’s what we all know, that He, Who began a good work in us shall see it through to its completion. God bless you richly, and give you strength. Amen. A heartfelt amen, to your prayer.

  8. I too love this hymn. Thank you for sharing your spiritual walk. Our influence on others in suffering is especially meaningful to Christians.



  9. Life indeed is unfair, but God is good. I must say this phrase at least once a day to my young boys. Your writing is refreshing and uplifting. I love the song “It is well with my soul.” The story behind it is heartwrenching. But he never gave up to total grief. He kept going and sharing God’s love with people even though he had to loose his loved ones in the ship wreck. Consequently this was not the only children he would lose to death. It makes me sigh. I guess I don’t have it so bad. A gopher is just a gopher anyway. We all sit on the precipice of going crazy I think. But God’s grace brings sweet peace. I am honored to have you follow my blog. Be blessed today. Meghan

  10. I visited your blog after you ‘liked’ one of the posts on mine. Challenges and loss are part of our lives. Sometimes, they seem relentless. And yet … our God never changes, His faithfulness is sure, from generation to generation. With so great a crowd of witnesses behind us and surrounding us, it amazes me that I ever manage to take my eyes off Him. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I was greatly encouraged and challenged about what walking a ‘godly’ life means after reading Isaiah 58 (particularly verses 1-12) just this morning.

  11. Reblogged this on The Narrowing Path.

  12. My thoughts and prayers are with you JD. Thank you for sharing your wak in Christ through the sorrows that indeed like sea billows roll. This is one of my favourite hymns, and it has ministered to me and my children greatly in this last year of sorrows and joy.

    Your readers may enjoy this article about the writer of the hymn:


    In Christ’s love, Sherryn

  13. I will have to echo rtrube54. Thank you also for your transparency, honesty, encouragement and reminder of our future hope and true treasure – Christ.

  14. Dear Sir,

    This was such an encouraging article. I especially appreciated the phrase you used: “a time of sustained pruning”. It seems that if one is truly committed to following Jesus that such times are inevitably unavoidable. Yet, responding in the right spirit, as you have so aptly pointed out here, is often difficult.

    Thank you so much for sharing your struggles so honestly. I think many Christians will be encouraged through this article.

    What a blessing to be able to say that you have truly hung on to faith in Christ, rather than bitterness over your losses. This in itself is a powerful testimony, even when lived out imperfectly. (And if we could do it perfectly, why would we need a Savior?)

    I wanted to share something that my prayer partner shared with me. Although she tailored it to parenting, I think it can be adapted to anyone seeking to honor Jesus in his life. Here are the words she said to me: “God does not call us to parent our children perfectly. Instead, He calls us to keep pointing our children to Jesus.” Relating this to the Christian life, I think when we are honest about our struggles to those who are observing us, then keep pointing both ourselves and our audience back to Jesus, this truly glorifies God. And might also keep pride at bay.

    My family and I have also been going through a time of sustained pruning lately, and this article will be a great encouragement to other family members. I plan to put it in a special folder where I can refer often to it.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful, God-glorifying articles. May God bless you and your family!

    Best Regards,


    Psalm 34:18

  15. You list of what you’ve learned is so good. You have such a way with words. 126 gophers?! Yikes.

  16. Wow, as I walked your property with you, listening to the reflections of your heart, I too am challenged to be a better reflection of God’s glory in the midst of worldly loss. Thanks for sharing so openly… and for using one of my favorite hymns- His eye is on the sparrow is its only rival.

  17. Great reflections and love the weave of scripture, hymn, gopher trapping and reflecting on loss.

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