Hungering for Righteousness

A few years ago, I would have called something like this a coincidence, but have now learned to see them as “God moments,” where the Spirit is trying to tell me something. At church we have been taking a look at The Beatitudes. A few weeks ago, the unthinkable happened. I was finished with my sermon early. I told our music director that it probably meant that the boys would arrive early. Sure enough, the second was born at 10:46 on that Sunday…just as our church family was gathering for worship.

What was the God moment? Our passage was Matthew 5:6:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

For the last two weeks, my wife and I have spent a considerable amount of time in the NICU with our boys, with the primary focus being on them learning to eat. I’ve shared some lessons from that time already, but as I prepare to finally preach on this message Sunday another truth has come to my mind.

I understand hunger. In fact, it is embarrassing how much of my life feels like it is planned around not being hungry. Have you ever picked a restaurant just because you knew it would leave you obnoxiously full? I have for sure. I know that being full is way better than being hungry and so I often plan my days around eating.


So imagine the feeling this week watching and waiting for my sons to make the connection that if only they would eat, things would be better! I would say things like “If you’d just eat this, we promise to leave you alone.” The NICU is great and our boys were well cared for. It is also not home. Waiting on this milestone has allowed me to see hunger from another perspective.

I imagine when Jesus says that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, he does so because he knows that those things can only be found in him. We have been created in the image of God and because of that I believe that there should be a desire for the things that God desires. I know that in my own life I have never regretted being obedient to the things that God has commanded me to do. On the other side, some of the deepest pains have come from my disobedience.


Richard Rohr and NT Wright are among a group of scholars that believe that we have used the word righteousness in the wrong way, when in truth it should be justice. The depth of scripture is that both can be true: We must hunger for our own righteousness, but we also must hunger for justice for all people.

Our desire to see things made right is a good thing. Knowing the love that God has for us and knowing that the hurt in this world is not what God had in mind, we should hunger for righteousness. I make sure that I honor God with my actions. At the same time, I have to remind myself that it isn’t about me in the first place.

As believers, our actions must always be kingdom minded. We should desire to daily be the hands and feet of Christ in the places where we have been led. We should see people hurting and have compassion on them, withhold judgment, and be a friend. We don’t concern ourselves with making only our lives better, but the lives of everyone around us as well. When you see someone that isn’t treated well, it should bother you. When you know that there is a hurt, you should work to help heal.

As I sat and waited and cheered and hoped for my sons to transition from hunger to fullness, I think God looks down on us in the same way.

Some days God looks down on me and cheers! “He gets it!”
Some days God is upset because I’m not doing as I should. “I wish he understood that I’ve created a better way..”
But no matter how I respond each day, his presence and his faithfulness are constant.

In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that he has come that we might have life to the full. The best hope that we have of finding satisfaction in our lives is only when we are fully committed to finding our place in serving for the good of the kingdom. We should desire our own personal righteousness and we should also look at the world and have a strong desire for justice. HenryFeed3

If only we would understand obedience. If only we would work to fight oppression, hurt, and injustice in the world. If only we would fight to make sure that all people know that they are loved and valued.

Then, and only then, will be be truly full.

Obnoxiously, gloriously, tremendously full.

Seeing God at the NICU…

This morning I sit and write this post from the Special Care Unit of our hospital, where I have the chance to sit and hold our newborn son Henry. If you are reading this you probably know that Henry’s brother Asher has been home with us for a few days. We have not shared all of the details along the way, but for the sake of this message just know that because they came a little early, both boys needed some help getting enough food intake. I’m as shocked as anyone that one of MY children could have a hard time eating, but from what we’ve been told it is absolutely normal.


No matter how normal it might be, nothing can prepare a parent for these kinds of situations. You hear stories of others and feel for them, but when it is your own child, you think about things a little differently. Though they spent the first 8 months of their life in the same place under the same conditions, their stories are already different. Their births were very different, with one being a c section, and they have had their own challenges to face. We’ve been told that with twin boys, one usually struggles a little more than the other.


So…on Thursday, we celebrated as Asher was brought to our room downstairs and on Friday we celebrated as he was finally able to come home! At the same time, there is profound sadness because our home is not yet complete. We trust that he will develop on his own time and we long for that day, but for now there are lots of visits back and forth from the hospital, calls to nurses to check on how he is doing, while at the same time caring for a newborn and 2 year old girl at home (with LOTS of help from family, of course).

While I don’t believe that on this side of heaven we will ever understand why these things happen, I do believe in a God that is continually in the process of working to redeem even the worst of situations. At church the last few months we have been talking about spiritual awareness…where is God speaking?

Thinking about our boys, I think God is preparing us for the challenge of raising children but also showing me something about how we get to be a part of redeeming these stories.

Two boys, in similar circumstances, have developed differently. They’ve share a womb, a room, nurses, parents, and more. And yet one is taking a little bit longer than the other to do his thing.

Perhaps you are like me in this way. You know people in your life that don’t understand the joy found in the Christian walk. I think of church members, relatives, friends, and so many more that struggle. Someone that they love is not doing as well as they should. Perhaps they have prayed for them to attend church and no matter how much they pray…nothing seems to happen.

Or perhaps you are frustrated in your own spiritual growth (though I think sometimes we obsess over that more than we should). You think you should be at some heightened state of spiritual strength, you should have figured it out. And yet…you struggle.

I have been so encouraged this week by the love shown to us by the nurses and doctors at this hospital. They have loved us and our boys incredibly well. They will continue to love on our Henry until he gets a chance to come home. So what is God teaching?

We can’t control everything, no matter how hard we try. We can’t make people develop faster than they do. We can’t be responsible for results.

What we can do is be faithful in the tasks before us. Asher eats like a champ. Taking care of him is very similar to any other healthy newborn. We celebrate the good days and the time spent with him. We cheered as he got to come home.

And for Henry, he struggles, but we know that his day will come. We cheer at signs of progress, we pray when we see setbacks, and we continue to care for him until it “clicks” and he starts doing the things that a typical newborn should. We know that he will. We also know that this situation could be far worse. It’s just that sometimes it is hard to wait. 

20180506_103508I don’t know your story. I don’t know your situation. I don’t know the hurt and the heartaches and the long nights praying for those that you care so much about. I also can’t promise that things will always get better. Life is fragile. Relationships are fragile.

What I can do is encourage you to be faithful in the circumstances in which you currently find yourself. Encourage when you can. Celebrate when you can. And mourn, when appropriate.

Today we wait for one milestone but we know that there will always be more times of waiting. And so, we place our faith in a God that we believe can and will redeem this situation and trust that God can use this opportunity to help us see the ways that he will work through this situation.

While our stories might be different, that statement is the same. Take heart. God is at work. And we’ll see the answers at just the right time.

(I’ll end with a few more pictures…because that’s what dads are supposed to do.)

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