I observed a mother and daughter in a grocery store today. The daughter was a young teen, pushing the cart behind her mother. The daughter stops at a soda she wanted.
mama,” picking up a bottle of bubbly goodness; a brand of soda that
is usually sold with a jingle or catch phrase. The mother stops and
looks it over. “Sweetheart, here,” grabbing at the shelf.
brand?,” she scuffs.
Save some money. I ain’t got payed yet.”
mother places the store brand soda in the cart and continues walking
down the aisle; daughter just stares down the aisle.
come on, hurry up.” Her daughter catches up.
are you gonna tell me to hurry up when you walk so slow?” – I
chuckled on the inside. But praising, that the mother was teaching
some thrifty responsibility.
was obvious that the daughter’s rebuttal was fueled by discontent.
However, the ordeal reminded me of The Crab and His Mother:
old crab said to her son, “Why do you walk sideways like that, my
son? You ought to walk straight.” The young crab replied, “Show
me how, dear mother, and I’ll follow your example.” The old crab
tried, but tried in vain, and then saw how foolish she had been to
find fault with her child. – Aesope’s Fables
Oh, how easy it is. – to find fault with others and dismiss our own faults. I pray I may be aware of my own hypocrisy. Help me Lord, to change my ways, so that I may direct my own children in truth and righteousness. It was Jesus that said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise (John 5:19.) Father leads, son follows; Mother leads, daughter follows. Mothers and Fathers are examples for their children. To have one and not the other is to break a link in the chain. – I am not saying people cannot grow to be good people without issue. However, chances are greater when one is missing. Why risk your child’s development? Ironic, today I started reading, The 5 Love Languages for Children – By Gary Chapman. The book was handed to me. Children seem to be an important topic as of late. Gary Chapman’s book for adults, carrying a similar title, is a great read too. I encourage it. God bless.
Time and time again the question pops up in life, why do we suffer? This question enters our minds as soon as strife or grief arrives in our lives. In The Problem with Pain by C.S. Lewis, he says we regard God as an airman regards his parachute. – Being prior military, I cling to the comparison. An airmen never hopes that he has to use his parachute. It is the last resort to an awful situation. How often do we resort to God when all other methods fail? Should He not be the first resort? There is so much in our lives fighting for our attention and God is usually the last person to get it. I will ask, where in our busy schedule does God fit in? Is it after we get out of bed? After breakfast? Do we say, “oops, no more room in my schedule, Lord? Then don’t be surprised when he says, “be gone from me, I never knew you.” I implore you, dear reader, to put God first. If the question, Why do we suffer?, refers to the loss of a loved one. Reflect on the following; a true christian never dies, we just relocate. I do not down-play your lose. Rather, you have my sympathies. I have lost people too; one to suicide, one in a fire, one killed in a hit and run, another blown up by a suicide bomber, and a grandfather to Alzheimer’s. I can only imagine what the future holds. If the question, why do we suffer?, is a reflection of the time we spend bed ridden before our death. I will say, have you not heard? There are no aeithiests in foxholes. Meaning, it is not until we are face to face with death that we begin to reflect on our mortality. This is usually when people reach out to God. I had a friend tell me that his father was on his death bed, so he thought. The pain was unbearable. He wanted it to end and his father, up to that point, never accepted Jesus. It was not until he was at the end of his rope, in pain and suffering, that his father reflected on his relationship with with the Lord. His father accepted Jesus Christ after being on the edge of pain and death. By the way, he made a full recovery after that.
What about those of faith that are themselves in a bed with pain? Peter Marshall was a Scottish American and US Senate Chaplin. His wife, Catherine Marshal (1914-1983), was a writer and author. She penned A Man Called Peter; the story of her husband. It would later become a film. In both film and book, Cathrine becomes sick and contemplates her suffering. Relenting, Cathrine cries out to the Lord saying He can have all of her and to do with her as He pleases. Soon there after, she recovers. Peter Marshal tells his wife that the Lord did not want a part of her. Rather, the Lord wanted her in totality. This reminds me, that pain and suffering is one way that we are tried and tested. The Lord grabs our attention and refines us this way, sometimes. I urge you to pray and give Him benefit of the doubt. Remember the story of Job? He lost everything; home, family, finances, health. Eventually, Job breaks down and demands that God explain Himself for the suffering he endures. The Lord answers Job from a whirlwind:
Who is this that darkens counsel without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? (Job 38:1-3).
The Lord is telling Job that he
speaks without any understanding. Our perspective is so limited
compared to God. We could not comprehend all that the Lord takes into
consideration before our suffering. The Lord gets Job to question his
position in the grander scheme of things.
This world operates by the laws
of physics. Who do you think came up with the foundations of physics?
– Certainly not man. Man has only discovered physics, not created it.
Man was nothing before the physical laws and properties of the world
came about. Trying to explain the foundations of the world to Job
would be like trying to explain calculus to a rock. The language and
understanding was not there. Are we any better today? With
advancements in languages and sciences, we may be better equipped.
However, that does not mean we can understand all that the Father
takes into consideration. Our minds and our strengths are vastly
inferior to God.
Sometimes I find myself in a situation where my pain and suffering helps those going through similar experiences. Who is better equipped to minister to the suffering than those who have suffered? It is hard to relate to someone about pain, if you have no understanding of pain. Christians are not called to live a life of comfort. We are called to a life of servitude on the Lord’s behalf. Will you serve? are you willing to be burned, refined as a tool for God? Christians should strive to be givers and not takers, that does not mean you cannot accept something offered. If we do not learn to receive help, we could never accept what the Lord has done for us on the cross. You do not have to be a pastor or member of clergy to minister to others. You can minister to those in your workplace. Ministry can happen in our day to day interactions. But treat all hardships as discipline from the Father.
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left withoutdiscipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:7-11, ESV
Reflect on the manor in which you are living. Are you living for self? Or are you living for God? Are you reflecting on Him and His word? Or does your family, love interest, job or gadgets get the prime cuts of your attention. I say this so you may reflect on your daily habits and motives before you ask, “why do we suffer?” When you might mean to ask, “why am I suffering?” In life and in scripture, we see man often suffers in this world. The suffering of mankind is often brought upon by the choices men and women make and seldom because of God. In scripture, we see God removes his hand of protection because of wickedness. – This is all evil needs to succeed, for God to remove Himself. Darkness is the absence of light; wickedness is the absence of righteousness. Adam and Eve could have lived in paradise with God, free of worry, pain and suffering. However, God gave man an element of freedom. Seldom, do we use freedom for righteousness sake. In short, we are selfish creatures that need to learn the selflessness of Christ. He gave it all unto death. – Give all the glory to Jesus for that.
This day in history is shadowed by men of wickedness. Some may want to overlook it because staring at it is difficult. However, eyes were fixated that day, as the nations watched on in terror and gloom. Every station was glued. – The whole world was watching. I remember those pillars of smoke as the towers collapsed. – I was just a teen. My heart goes out to the loved ones lost and volunteers that helped at ground zero. – May God bless you all. I pray it may be a reminder that there is wickedness in the hearts of men. Because of this, we must draw nearer to God. Nobody knows when their last moments will come. Certainly, nobody did then. Harsh words in a harsh reality, forgive me.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3
What is meant by, For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God?
First, Psalm 91, I believe they go hand in hand.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1)
First, hidden in Christ. Then, being in the shadow of the most High God. We must first die to our flesh and our old ways, baptized into Christ and forgiven. This should be done before we can reside in the shadows of the Most High God. Only the Holy Spirit of God can give you life in the spirit. Without Him, we are dead. It is the Holy Spirit that is “the light of life.” Without that light, we are in darkness. Baptized and grafted into Christ, He becomes our shelter and refuge as we look to him and not the world. It is God that decides to hide us or put us on display for His names sake – His timing prevails. Dwelling in another person’s shadow is to be hidden; concealed or overlooked. Those that abide in God reside in his shadow. It is a place to be nurtured and raised spiritually. So, draw nearer, O’ children of God; under the Lord’s wings, to the mother hen guarding her chicks. Let the Lord nurture you until it is time to leave the nest; to be in the world, not of it. Lastly, I would like to offer up this prayer:
O’ Heavenly Father, I know it is to your glory to hide a thing and the glory of kings to seek those things out. However, my old life has become hidden and I do not seek it. I have forfeited it for your name’s sake. Shelter me Lord and teach me your ways, which are of heavenly stature. I am clay in your hands and I will remain hidden in your care. Help me to reside in the confinements of your shadow without anxiety, as I seek your kingdom and your righteousness. May the families of those that have born loss find comfort in you. May your wings expand over us all. Amen