Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
(Peter-John Courson passed away February 5, 2019. He was the somewhat-known pastor and son of a well-known pastor, Jon Courson)
The internet has created connections that just a few decades ago probably wouldn’t have existed.
Case in point: about 12 years ago while commenting on a blog I often frequented, I began to share some comments back-and-forth with an individual who wrote under the pseudonym “Costco Cal.”
After some time, it was revealed that “Costco” was in fact Peter John Courson, son of well-known pastor Jon Courson (from Applegate Christian Fellowship in Oregon).
At this blog, Pete was a regular commenter who had a wry sense of humor, and often enjoyed the role of being a good-natured provocateur. He liked to ask questions to get people thinking. Sometimes he could push the envelope to the point that some would feel a bit irritated, But, he also showed a strong sense of self-depreciation, able to make himself the butt of his many jokes. Bottom line, Pete was a big personality. Sometimes that big personality left people scratching their heads.
As the fates would have it, Pete and I bumped into each other in the lobby of Harvest Christian Fellowship while attending the 2009 Preach the Word conference. It’s always kind of strange when people who only know each other through the internet meet. But it was kinda fun to actually talk in person. And, during the conference, we texted back and forth some of our thoughts and reactions to the speaker’s presentations.
As time went by, I learned more about Pete’s life and some of the challenges he faced.
- As a young boy, he lost not only his mother, but a sister as well.
- As an adult he fought a 20-some year battle with Crohn’s disease that often brought terrible misery and an on/off again dependence on crippling steroids.
- Pete had a few intestinal episodes that brought him to the brink of death.
- A few years back he had to have brain surgery.
Then, most recently, Pete received the devastating diagnosis of having stage 4 colon cancer. And not soon after, he went under hospice care. Finally, he commended his spirit to the Lord.
When I look at Pete’s list of life challenges, it almost seems too much. So much pain and way too much burden. His was a life where we might say the cards were stacked against him.
Yet, Pete plugged through each of those debilitating challenges with great aplomb.
He was like a cork that, although continually dunked by forceful waves, always popped back to the surface. In the midst of a mountain of trials, Pete could always find joy in Jesus and gratitude for the gifts his heavenly Father provided him. He loved his wife and his kids (two adopted from Africa). He was thankful for his ministry. He always seemed to find the silver lining when dark clouds formed.
There were times during our internet interactions where I didn’t always see things as Pete did. Sometimes he chose paths that confounded me.
But this one thing I know: Peter John Courson was fully committed to God. When faced with some of life’s worst difficulties, he was in lockstep with Peter who once told the Lord, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Peter stuck to Jesus like Velcro. He clung to the rock even when the winds whipped and the waves roared. Although I’m sure that he felt pain, disappointment and even despair. he never cursed the name of his Creator. Bottom line, he proved to be obedient to the scripture that starts this blog post.
One of the most common things we say when someone passes is “rest in peace.” But for Pete, I say “rest in joy.” For he nurtured joy even though his life was overwhelmingly challenging. Now he is freely and eternally experiencing joy in the presence of Jesus.
No more burdens, just pure joy.