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The Guinness Book of World Records tells me that Charles Osborne of Anthon, Iowa once had the hiccups for 68 years.  He tried all of the 'old home' recipes to get rid of them, like drinking a glass of water in strange ways, choking down a spoonful of sugar and breathing into a paper bag.  He also consulted with a variety of doctors, but nothing worked.  He died of natural causes about a year after they stopped ... at the age of 97!  I've heard many suggestions over the years of how to get rid of the hiccups, but I have never heard of a way to avoid them all together.

Though I have not read about it yet this year, it seems like pothole season in Michigan is right around the corner.  Subzero temperatures, then highs in the forties and then back down to lows in single digits - mixed with snow, sleet, and rain - sure seems like the proper formula.  At least in this case I know of a way to totally avoid them:  never enter into a motor vehicle!

To the best of my knowledge, I have never hit a landmine, or even seen one.  I say "to the best of my knowledge" because there always is the bizarre possibility that I have driven over a dud without knowing it.  Conventional wisdom tells me that if I limit my driving to the USA I shouldn't have any trouble avoiding them.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, as we live on this earth, certain things - like hiccups and potholes - are pretty much unavoidable, while others - like landmines - are a different story.  And I'm not just talking about death and taxes - though grief and financial burdens are a part of the story.  Inevitably, as we live in this sin-infested world, no matter how good things may be going in our lives, we are guaranteed to encounter illness, disappointments, surprise attacks, unanticipated setbacks, and the death of loved ones.

Some problems in life are avoidable, but most are not.  Of the unavoidable our options seem to be either to let them knock us out, or to work on being strong enough so that, when they come our way, we have the strength to get back up, dust ourselves off, and then continue to move forward.  I have a feeling that most of the complaining and blaming comes from those who are not getting back up (complaining and blaming seems to burn up a whole lot of energy).

I like the way Psalm 1 puts it:  "How blessed you are - you don't hang out at Sin Saloon, you don't slink along Dead-End Road, you don't go to Smart-Mouth College.  Instead you thrill in God's Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.  You're a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.  You're not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust - without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.  God charts the road you take.  The road they take is Skid Row." (The Message)  The good news is that everyone, even those who have found every one of their friends while hanging out at Sin Saloon, still can find hope in Jesus.

My past week started out helping a family say "auf wiedersehen" to their 94 year-old matriarch.  Shortly after that I had the privilege of telling the story of Joshua, Jericho and Jesus to a group of four year-olds.   Since then I have had private conversations about the love of Jesus with people in every decade of life in-between.  Most of them have run into hiccups or potholes in their lives.  The others have driven through through minefields - unsuccessfully, I must add.  But none are without hope.

How do I say this?  "We were buried with (Christ) by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection." (Romans 6.4-5)  In other words, we have a friend named Jesus who is in the business of picking up those who have fallen and raising up those who have driven into minefields.

And, then, after he picks us up, he says, "Let's return to Psalm one and look for a way to make it easier the next time around."

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