Monthly Archives: April 2013

Thankful for the Thorns

by Dr. Cynthia Jones Neal

How easy it is to forget to be thankful for suffering and weakness. We are so often more thankful for the good things, the comforts in life, things that go well. But the weaknesses and sorrows ought to be received with thankfulness, for the weaknesses point us to God, reminding us of how much we need God’s amazing and sufficient grace.

Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 12:5-10 that the thorn in his side reminded him of God’s grace. What was it that would remind him of his weakness and need for God?

Paul was caught up into Paradise and heard that which no mortal is permitted to repeat. He had reason to boast, but a thorn reminded him of his particular weakness. Perhaps that thorn was the painful awareness that he had killed Christians. Living with the horror that he had murdered, especially those who loved Christ, must have been a terrible sorrow, one Paul would live with the rest of his life.

In my own life, weakness and needs have been hard to recognize and acknowledge. Suffering just was not in the script, at least the script that I wrote. God has had a different script for me, however, one that includes suffering and sorrow and reminds me of the many ways I hold onto idolatries and false supports rather than seek His holy will.

Remember the journey of Much-Afraid (Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard) as she faced her fears and began to follow the great shepherd. The first step in her journey, however, required her to take the hands of her companions, Sorrow and Suffering. Only as she journeyed with these companions would she be transformed, able to receive a new name along with the feet that would enable her to prance on the mountain with the shepherd. Through many trials and travails, Much-Afraid received new feet and a new name, Grace and Glory. Sorrow became Joy, and Suffering became Peace. How many of us look for our new names as we enter our journeys? In Rev. 2:17b, God says, “To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”

One final thought comes from Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love:

“The situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it…But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in the humanity’s pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life.”

As I journey through this life, I hope to receive sorrows and suffering with greater thanksgiving, participating in the pain of humanity while awaiting my new name as I continue to look to God for His sufficient grace.


Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Current Associate Professor of Psychology, Cynthia Neal Kimball (on faculty since 1990) was featured in the Winter 1999 issue.

The following statement was included at the time of publication:

Dr. Cynthia Jones Neal, chair of Wheaton’s psychology department, has been at the college since 1990. She received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of New Mexico. Her work has been published in several professional journals, including Personality and Social Psychology, and Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. She also co-authored chapters in Vygotsky and Education and A New Vision for Welfare Reform and Nurture That Is Christian: Developmental Perspectives on Christian Education. Dr. Neal received Wheaton’s Junior Teacher of the Year Award in 1990.

Malcolm Muggeridge and the Iron Lady

As English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge aged, he embraced increasingly conservative principles. Moving from atheism to theism to Catholicism, he adjusted his views, publishing books and articles reflecting his ideology. Enjoying an extraordinary network of friends and acquaintances, Muggeridge interacted with the prominent voices of his day, including authors, films stars and politicians like U.S. President Ronald Reagan, with whom he shared a contempt for abortion.

Malcolm Muggeridge connected with other conservative politicians, as well. In 1978, he evidently encouraged Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain (who died at 87 on April 8, 2013) to accept an invitation to speak at Pepperdine University. At this time, Thatcher was still a Member of Parliament. Unable to attend due to prior commitments, she sent gracious responses to both H.A. White, president of Pepperdine, and Muggeridge.

Dr. Mal Couch

Dr. Mal Couch died on February 12, 2013, age 74. Born and raised in Dallas, attending Scofield Memorial Church where he heard such preachers as Harry Ironside, Lewis Sperry Chafer, V. Raymond Edman and Carl Armerding, perhaps it was inevitable that he would find himself immersed in dispensational theology and its accompanying prophetic emphasis. After earning his B.A. from John Brown University, he returned to his hometown where he attended Dallas Theological Seminary, earning his Th.M in Systematic Theology. Aside from ministry, he supported himself in the television and film industry, editing news broadcasts and documentaries, keeping him close to current events. On November 22, 1963, Couch, a senior at DTS, was assigned by Channel 8 to film John F. Kennedy’s fateful Dallas visit, riding in the motorcade a few cars behind the President.

As shots rang out from Texas School Book Depository, he saw the rifle barrel drawn back into the sixth floor window. Couch was responsible for filming the brief footage of bystanders dropping to the grass at Dealey Plaza. His eyewitness testimony is documented in the Warren Commission. “One thing that impressed me in the days that followed the assassination of President Kennedy,” he told an interviewer, “was that so many people appeared confused and lost at that moment. They walked around the city in a daze. They had no connection with life, it seemed. For me, my personal faith in Jesus Christ and in a God who controls the affairs of men, did not change a bit. In fact, it gained deeper roots.”

Moving north to Chicagoland, he worked a part-time editor for Moody Monthly while also serving as pastor of Naperville Bible Church (now called Gracepoint Church). At his 1966 installation ceremony, the Invocation was presented by Dr. Merrill Tenney of Wheaton College; the Charge was delivered by Dr. John Walvoord, president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Busy with ministry, Couch also attended Wheaton College graduate school. “I can think of no better place for training Christians in the art of communicating the message of scripture,” he wrote on his application.

Couch taught at Philadelphia School of the Bible, Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary, specializing in the fields of systematic theology, history, Biblical Hebrew and New Testament Greek. Recently, he was president of Scofield Ministries in Clifton, TX and Pastor of Clifton Bible Church.

A man of many abilities, Mal Couch was a photographer, radio talk show host and a licensed pilot. Using his directing and editing skills, he produced The Occult with Hal Lindsay, The Temple with Zola Levitt and Someone Cares with Charles Colson. He was also a prolific writer, including Inerrancy, Titus and the Birth of the Nation of Israel. One of his final titles was Going Home: Our Blessed Hope of Heaven and Eternity, written with his wife, Lacy.

Two Hopes

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Former Professor of Education Richard Turner (who taught at Wheaton from 1981-1994) was featured in the Winter 1994 issue.

It was as a high school student that I first heard of Wheaton College. In a magazine called Christian Life and Times I found articles written by people from all walks of life–pastors, housewives, missionaries, medical personnel–diverse both in occupation and in theological perspective within a broad Christian context. They loved the Lord and articulated this eloquently. Many of the biographical notes declared they were graduates of Wheaton College. I decided if Wheaton College graduated Christians of such quality, Wheaton was where I wanted to attend college.

After four years in the Air Force, and as a married student at Wheaton College and Graduate School in the fifties, I studied with professors who had both academic rigor and a Christian graciousness. Kantzer, Tenney, Mickelsen, Holmes, and Hawthorne taught their students to think critically and fairly at issues where there was disagreement. Cairns taught us to look at cultures through history. Taylor and Buswell taught us to look at cultures in various areas of this earth. Wheaton College provided us with a wonderfully broad, rather than provincial, outlook on the world.

Following more than twenty years as a teacher and principal in local schools, I returned to teach in the department of education. I have found that academic rigor and Christian graciousness are still alive and well at Wheaton College, along with the same reverence toward Scripture and willingness to look at issues openly, critically, and fairly.

As I retire from Wheaton at the end of this college year, I have two hopes. One is that more people of color will be both attracted to the College and made to feel welcome. Having spent most of my military time in Asia and the last twenty-five years attending and inner-city church, I have appreciated the diversity of God’s people. About the turn of the century, ninety percent of the world’s Christians were said to be white and western. In the nineties over half are said to be people of color.

Wheaton has a rich heritage in students who have lived in other countries, primarily as missionary kids. They add to the multicolored mosaic known as the body of Christ. But they are mainly white and western. Only about ten percent of the Wheaton student body come from a different racial or ethnic background. Without more of this type of diversity our students are deprived of the full richness that God’s people have to offer. The College has attempting [sic] to attract those of various backgrounds to come as students, staff, and faculty.

A second hope is that Wheaton will maintain a balance in attracting students from and preparing students for both private and public schools. Much has been written in recent years denigrating the public schools of this country. Conditions in the schools do mirror conditions in society. This is often true in private Christian schools as well as in public schools. The difference I have observed between Christian and secular school students is that Christian school students know more Bible content than Christian students in public schools. There seems to be little difference in behavior. Since eighty to ninety percent of American’s youth attend public schools we have an obligation to them. There are many Christian teachers in the public schools who by their lives are influencing America’s youth and our society in general. The public schools are just as much a mission field as an overseas destination. God will call some to public schools. We should be obedient to his call.


The following statement was included at the time of publication:

Dr. Richard Turner ’52 received his B.A. in Bible from Wheaton, his M.A. in theology from the Wheaton Graduate School, and his C.A.S. and Ed.D. from Northern Illinois University. He has served as chair of Wheaton’s department of education since 1981. He was a principal in Wheaton public schools from 1969-81 and a teacher in Glen Ellyn and Wheaton schools from 1960-69. From 1948-52 he worked in air traffic control for the U.S. Air Force. He and his wife, Connie, live in Wheaton and have three children and three grandchildren.