Struggles of the faith

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My sister and her friends have taken to shouting “Struggles of the faith!” whenever something mildly inconvenient happens to them.

No more coffee creamer? Struggles of the faith!

IPhone died in the middle of your Words With Friends game? Struggles of the faith!

You’re wearing flip-flops on a rainy day? Struggles of the faith!

Similar to Alanis Morrissette’s song “Ironic,” where she sings about things that are actually not ironic, these problems are miniscule compared to true struggles of the faith.

This week is Struggles of the Faith week in chapel — a nearly 20-year tradition on campus  where various speakers share their true struggles and how they have shaped their walk with God. Monday morning, College Football Hall of Fame Coach Gene Stallings spoke about his son, John Mark, who had Down syndrome.

Stallings admitted that the day his son, whom he affectionately called Johnny, was born was one of the saddest days of his life. He went on to say that raising his son was one of his life’s greatest accomplishments.

“I prayed to God hard that He would change Johnny,” Stallings said. “And you know what He did? He changed me.”

Stallings shared that, through the struggles he and his wife faced while raising John Mark, the joy their son brought them outweighed the difficulties. When John Mark died in 2008, the family had John Mark’s ultimate reward in which to rejoice, comforted in knowing that his love for God and child-like innocence had guaranteed him a place in Heaven.

“If we as parents had one wish for our children, we’d wish that they’d spend eternity in heaven. That’s what parents want for our children. Knowing that we had raised a child who was going to forever be in the presence of God — that was worth all of those struggles.”

You can download audio or video to Stallings’ speech, along with others throughout the week, through Harding’s iTunesU page, www.harding.edu/iTunesU.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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