Tag Archives: God’s Love

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

 

For as beautiful as faith is, for as wondrous as the hope that it brings can be, the devout and determined Disciple meets with challenges to it daily.

I sat across from a friend recently, and I had to ask, “How is your faith?” I could hear it in his voice, the pain and the struggle. Life, it gets hard for all of us, and in those moments as we feel the weight of it bearing down on us, we can’t help but wonder to ourselves. We feel angry but once the anger subsides, as the fairness, or lack thereof, of it weighs down on us, it turns to a sort of quiet depression as we try to figure out what’s the point of trying when all trying seems to do is lead to disappointment.

After a brief moment of silence he met my eyes, and with a slight sigh, shrugged as he answered, “Not as strong as it used to be…”

His problem, his challenge, the question that lingered on his mind was a simple one, one that we all perhaps battle with now and then, but that we don’t give much thought to during the good times in our lives when things seem simple and easy for us. When the rough times come though, it plagues us as we try to hold on to our faith while remaining a good person, while trying to live the life that we know we should live.

“Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?” That was the sum of his problem, the one question that he couldn’t quite wrap his head around. The truth is that I’ve been there, I’ve toiled and struggled with the same question, with the same thought rolling around my mind. I’ve wondered why and how a loving God, a caring God, one who is meant to draw His children so near could let them slip so far away from Him. In the depths of depression I wondered how He could be so far removed from the toils of us mere mortals He so loved, that He loved so dearly that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for. (John 3:16)

The question though answers itself. Yes, it seems as if “good things happen to bad people” while “bad things happen to good people” but the question of why that is the case isn’t so much a mystery, or at the very least, isn’t as big of a mystery as we perhaps let it become in our own minds.

Let’s consider, for a moment, the nature of this world. Despite the imperfections of it, despite our own imperfections, God is not removed from us, nor is He, even in His own perfections, distant from this world. (Romans 3:22-24) Yet in this He warns us that this world that we live in, because of its flawed nature, is going to be a battleground, it is going to be a place of a deep and lasting spiritual warfare. The temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13) itself is very telling of just that, not just because our blessed Savior faced the challenge of the sin and the Devil as we did but because he tempted Him in every way he knew would possibly make Him stumble.

This is what he does with us. He looks into our hearts, he examines and he explores our spirits and our souls, searching them for the weaknesses that we have, for those small shreds of self-doubt, for those little bits of vanity, for any piece of pettiness or pain that might plague us. He uses them against us, he turns them against us, to swallow us whole in them and thus devour us himself. (1Peter 5:8)

Why though would he use such tactics against “The Bad” when he knows already that he has won with them? Why would he use them against “The Bad” when he can hold them up as an example of the good things that can happen if you just succumb to temptation and yield to him, relenting in your effort to try and live that good life, that righteous life you have been called to? This is a weapon in his arsenal that he uses to wage his war, that he uses to win his battles and he is going to use it against the faithful Disciple in order to try and win that they may fall on the fields amidst their struggles and their wounds.

Our Heavenly Father, He does not abandon us during these challenges (Joshua 1:5) regardless of how distant He may feel. He arms us that we can stand (Ephesians 6:10-18) knowing that, through Christ, we can find the strength we need to stand triumphant in all the battles, in all the adversity that we may face. (Romans 8:37) This is the promise He has made to us in the love that He has for us, and it is never removed from our lives even as our old and ancient Adversary seeks to put a wall between us and Him that we may not gaze upon the love that He has for us in the faith He has granted us.

It isn’t a question of God’s grace or even a question of faith, but rather a question of how you stand, how you push back when you feel the weight of your enemy, the weight of someone trying so hard to steal your peace from you. Good things may happen to bad people and bad things may happen to good people in this world, but the real victory, it comes not just from knowing this but knowing that the truest rewards, they come to those who accept that and live with faith, hope and love in their hearts, refusing to let this have any power over them, understanding that the real power comes from the blessing they can be despite it all as they hold fast to the wondrous miracle of grace in their life.

God is there for you, He always has been and He always will be. This is His promise to you, hold fast to it in the love that He has for you and you will stand firm against the challenges that this world has, refusing to let imperfect notions, thoughts and understandings create imperfections within you.

God Wants A Relationship With You

The Bible is God’s love story to us.

 

Psalms 16:8-11  I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken,
for He is right beside me.  9  No wonder my heart is glad, and I
rejoice. My body rests in safety.  10  For You will not leave my soul
among the dead or allow Your holy one to rot in the grave.  11  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the
pleasures of living with You forever.

Since the beginning of time God has been pursuing relationships, it started in the garden with Adam and Eve we see God enjoying the sacrifice of Abel and the righteous attempt to correct his brother Cain.

It seems that God spent time everyday in the garden with Adam and Eve up until the day that they rebelled against God. Adam and Eve attempted to cover-up their sin but the relationship was different now, they had forfeited eternal life in the garden, their decision changed everything but God didn’t regret making man instead he continued to pursue our heart.

When trouble comes our way we think that God’s opinion of us has changed, we can easily think that our circumstances are a reflection of how much God loves us. We need to look at some of the people that God loved in the Bible, God obviously loved Job, he even bragged about how good he was but he didn’t keep him from experiencing trouble.

Psalms 23:6 Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live
in the house of the LORD forever.

The twenty-third Psalm is a beautiful picture of God’s loving care and provision for man. The good shepherd provides what is best for us, guides us along the path and protects us from danger. We can be a guest in God’s house, he prepares a feast for us and he fills our cup to overflowing but the best part is that the guest at God’s house don’t have to leave.

God did everything to guarantee that I can have a relationship with him, I need to take him up on his offer found in John 3:16, Jesus tells us that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who, or What, Can be Against Us


“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) How often do we forget that promise? Perhaps it’s not forget in the traditional sense. After all we remember what the words are, and we may even utter them quietly to ourselves, searching for some sort of comfort when things start to get tough, but, when we look around, we have a hard time really and truly grasping not necessarily what it means but how it applies to our current situations. After all, if God is for us, should it really be this hard? Can’t it just be that much easier? Why can’t it be that much simpler than it is?

That’s the struggle though, isn’t it? It doesn’t come from God’s promises but from seeing how it is actually working in our lives. The words, they aren’t all that hard to understand, but how they apply, how they can possibly be true, that’s the real difficulty that we face. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” At times it just seems like pretty much everyone or everything and the burden, it is too much to bear as we search for the purpose and meaning in it all, as we seek the answers to why it has to be the way it is when the we know God is there, but we can’t figure out how He is there.

We’re not the first to face that question. What were the words of the Elisha as the army’s surrounded the city and it seemed as if all had been lost? “‘Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’” (2 Kings 6:16) In many senses we can all be like the servant who cried out, seeing the insurmountable odds, “Oh no! My Lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15) We don’t necessarily see the army of the living God, standing there in front of us, we don’t necessarily see the miracle of His power and glory between us and our real struggle, our real adversity, because we are so focused on all the ways everything has or can go bad, on all the ways that it has or can go wrong. Yet, what we need to be focused on is faith. After all, if it is truly what is hoped for and yet unseen (Hebrews 11:1) then our salvation and our defense is truly at hand even when it is the least clear to us.

We are reminded by the words of the Psalmist, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) More aptly we should be remember it is not just “What can mere mortals do to me?”, it is also a question of “What can this mere mortal world do to me?” No matter how many times it seems like it is there to knock us down, no matter how many times it may seem like it is there to break us, no matter how often the Devil may come to us, roaring like a lion that is seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8) God is there to heal us, to strengthen us in the love afforded to us by His goodness and mercy. (Psalm 147:3) After all, if He so loved each us, if He so loved the world that He would not even withhold His precious son from us, (John 3:16) letting his precious blood be spilled for us and for our sins then what really will He let touch us, what really will He let destroy us.

Each step of the way, in all that we are and all that we face, God really is there to stand for us. Sometimes it just takes letting go of the things that we think we know, remembering God’s wisdom and understanding surpasses even our own, and letting His invisible hand take hold of us, rising from the places we cannot see to stretch over us to protect us, to ensure that nothing that really and truly can rob us of His peace and comfort if we trust in Him will overtake us. Yes, that is a hard leap of faith to sometimes make when everything seems to be going against us, but then it is a question of how much hope do you truly put in the Lord and do you trust the promises He offers unto you as an undeniable truth for your life.

Take a moment in your day today, look at the struggles and the challenges that are weighing on you. Close your eyes, and search for God’s love for your life. It is there, and it is ready to make you more powerful than you ever thought possible if you just let it. No matter what hardship or difficulty life may offer, they fall if you stand firm in the Lord. It just takes the strength and the power He has already given to you and that you perhaps aren’t yet aware that you have. Then will you rest easy in the blessings of His promises for you.

Want and Need

What we want isn’t always what we need and what we need isn’t always what we want. That is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons that God teaches us in our lives as we struggle with purpose and meaning, searching for a reason, wondering to ourselves if He is even listening. Sometimes we just, well we have this image in our head of the way things should be or ought to be and it becomes such a prevalent thought that we can’t picture it any other way. Other times it’s that we look around and we can’t seem to understand why it is the way it is when we know it should be different, even if we don’t necessarily know how or why that should be the case.

It’s the question of divine purpose that so often gets to us, that so often weighs us down as we know what we want or how we want it, and yet, as we do, we have a hard time reconciling it to what God knows that we need in our lives. The thing about it is that we’re not even trying to be that terribly difficult, we aren’t trying to make it that much harder, we just want to know why it is the way that it is, we want to know what the plan and the design of it is, and we don’t necessarily get why it has to be the way that it is.

The deepest questions of who we are, and who we need to be, of where we need to be, they aren’t ever questions that come simply or easily. We don’t just become people, we grow into them. Perhaps, along the way or path is changed or altered, it might be that it we are affected, even shaped by the interactions we have with others, sometimes our road is hard, sometimes it is easy, but any way that you look at it, it doesn’t just happen overnight where, one day, we are suddenly who we are at this very moment in our lives. So why would it be any different with a God who knows how we grow, how we evolve as a person, how we learn and we change with time? Why would He make the answers clear to us in a way that He knows would be unclear because it was given without any thought or consideration to who we are and how we became that person?

What God promises us isn’t an easy path, nor a simple one in any way but to our salvation through Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:8) What He does promise is that, through the fires and the floods, through the dangers and the perils, He will be there for us and with us, (Isaiah 43:2) never leaving us or abandoning us. (Joshua 1:5) What He tells us is that what we need, in those times when we question the purpose and the plan of it is all, is trust and patience, because those who trust in the Lord will find His goodness (2 Samuel 7:8) and those who are patient with Him will find their strength and purpose, uplifted in His love. (Isaiah 40:31) This is the wondrous miracle of His hand in our lives even as we find ourselves questioning where He is when we want the most.

Remember, it is not our wanting that exalts us, it is God, our Heavenly Father, and God alone who does that. (Psalm 46:10) It could be, at that moment, we don’t quite get how He is exalting us, but it’s only when we put those feelings behind us, when we let go of them, in the blessings of His hope that He lets us be of one mind with Him, (Romans 15:5) to see as He sees, making more and more apparent the glorious nature of the lessons He is teaching us to become as we need to be as He makes all things possible to us through the power of His grace made perfect in Christ through us. (Philippians 4:13)

Take a moment today, and look at your life, look at what you are struggling with, what is challenging you. Take the time to look at what you have laid at God’s feet, the burdens you still feel weighing on you, and instead of mistaking want for need and putting what you want out there, say to God, “Lord, show me as You will, teach me as You must so I can be as You intend for me to be.” Let go not just of the struggles but of the wants and the desires you have in them, and make it about what the Lord, your blessed Father, intends for you and let Him, in trust, patience and hope, guide you to where you must be.

It is only then that you will find the true path to the peace you are seeking, the only way you will find the true reconciliation of your will with God’s to the glorious ends of the love He has for you as He makes it about you rather than you making it about yourself.

What if God Doesn’t Care

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder if God actually even cares.

I mean we know He does, or, at the very least, we think He does. It tells us in Scripture He does, and what are the words to that children’s song? “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” After all, if He cared enough to create us, if He made the promises that He made, assuring us that they are the same, that His love, bound to us through Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) there has to be something to the idea that He actually cares. Yet, sometimes it feels more complicated than that, does it? Sure it’s the faith of a child that saves, making way the path to Heaven, (Luke 18:17) but we don’t stay children forever, eventually we put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and adult problems follow us.

During those times God can seem so far distant, He can seem so far removed as we pray for a sign, for any sign that He still sees us, that He still contends with our cause, that He still cares. There are those times when, for as much as we know that He is there, we just don’t seem to feel it, at least not like we did, at least not like we should, and it’s hard. More than anything else it hurts as we just want so badly for Him to make His presence to be known, to let us know He’s still there, that He still sees us. If there is a Hell, if it is being removed from the presence of God, then those moments sure seem like they are as close as you can get to it on earth, aren’t they?

The thing about it is that, whether we feel His presence or not, whether we see His hand or not, God is there, and there isn’t a moment, a second, an instant where He doesn’t care. (Matthew 6:25-34) We know this not just because the Bible tells us that He loves us, that He is always there for us, that He cares for each of us individually with hope and grace, mercy and faith, but because He is the God who gave His only Son as the great sacrifice to wash away our sin and our guilt, to chase away all those problems big and small that would keep us separated from Him. (John 3:16)

You see, this temporal existence is the last great battlefield, and the Devil, our old adversary, he does everything he can to prove to us that Hell does exist, not just as a spiritual plane but as physical one too, and that this, right here is it. After all, if he can convince us that God doesn’t see us here, if He doesn’t see our pain and our anguish here, then is there really a God, is there really a Heaven or a Hell beyond any of this or is it just a moral argument devised millennia ago? After all, for as much as it can be made to feel as much like Hell as it can, our existence this side of Paradise can’t really be made to feel as splendid as Heaven itself, for however close we may wish or want it to be.

It’s not that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t understand. It’s that it’s easier for us to believe that He doesn’t see it than it is for us to accept the truth: amidst this life there are going to be struggles and hardships that seem like they are more than we can handle, there are going to be things in it that are going to cause us so much pain we don’t necessarily know what to do, and yes, God doesn’t necessarily stop them from happening. Why? Because even through them He has a plan for them, He has a lesson He teaches us (Jeremiah 29:11) and He knows nothing the Devil can throw at us is more powerful than we are when we put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just because we know something is painful now doesn’t mean it can’t lead to something amazing in our future now if we let God show us what it means, just like we can’t know if God takes something painful from us now it can’t lead to a greater pain or a deeper anguish in the future. The nature of faith has to be in the trust, as we put everything we don’t know in the hands of a God who does.

Never for a moment believe that God doesn’t care. He does, and, even in your hardship He is sparing you from some greater challenge, some greater hardship, waging a perpetual battle against sin, death and the Devil for you. He is doing it in ways we can’t understand and can’t conceive, and all He asks of you is a little bit of faith as He guides you through it all. It’s here then that we realize that when we can’t see God or hear Him we need to rely on our other senses, on a greater spiritual sense to find Him. When we do, we know then not only does He care for us, but that He also carries us. It’s then that though that purpose may be lost on us for the moment, we are drawn to the greater moments nearer to eternity when all purpose is revealed to us.

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Sometimes I take on projects that I know are well beyond my capacity, that are well beyond my own ability. Sometimes I just sit here in this chair and I’ll stare, my look perhaps a little hazy but my mind intensely focused, wondering how I’m going to go about doing this, tracing and retracing my thoughts even as I find I am unable to think about anything else.

There are moments when I just sort of let out this half laugh. You know the one? It almost sounds like a sigh but there is this chuckle that tries to find humor in it as you find yourself a little bit on the frustrated side. When I do, the prevalent thought that runs through my head seems to be I have no business pushing myself like this, testing the limits of what I can and can’t do, knowing full well just how far it is beyond my skill, talent and ability.

Yet I still try, pushing myself a little harder day by day. Maybe, in a sense, there are the times when I know that I am going to wind up disappointed. It doesn’t quite turn out the way that I wanted to. It could be that every step of the way I am going to end up frustrated, silently cursing what I am doing for turning out so bad, and myself for letting it. Invariably I know those moments may come and that, for as much as you warn yourself about it, telling yourself not to be disappointed if they do, nothing really prepares you for the reality of them if and when they do actually hit, do they?

But then, during these times, during these moments, we have to remind ourselves that though a wise man knows their limitations, it is a great man who not only knows them but does everything that he can do to push himself past them. Life is about understanding the boundaries that our limits have put up, and pushing ourselves past them with strength, vigor and courage in a hope, faith and trust that all things will work out as they must.

Faith is about a journey to the borderland of our boundaries, testing the limits of who we are and what we can do. Consider the words of the Lord to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) This is a testimony of a God who does not believe in limitations, a God who, looks to us, and, in the knowledge that all things are possible through Him (Matthew 19:26) sets us apart in the wondrous and boundless nature of His love that all things may be made possible through Him who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

Without a doubt there will be frustrations, there are going to be challenges that meet us along the way. There are going to be moments in our lives when we feel like throwing up our hands, thinking to ourselves why do we even bother trying? Why do we even bother when it all seems to slip away from us, and it just seems so hard? What we have to remember, during those times, is that we are created in a divine and holy image, in the glorious image of a God who loves us and sets us apart to be more than conquerors in Christ. (Romans 8:37) What we may believe is too hard for us, that we may believe is too difficult for us God has other ideas for. We just need to cast our cares, our worries, our frustrations, our self-doubt aside and look to a wondrous future, and a hope filled plan for our lives.

I have no illusions that I am a great man. Maybe someday I might be better than I am today in the belief that today I am better than I was yesterday. What I know is that if I keep pushing my boundaries, if I keep trying harder to do make what seems like it would be impossible for me to do possible then the best is yet to come for my life in the trust that God will always be there to help me along the way, to help me become more than what I am, perfecting me in His grace and love.

Look to your own life, consider your journey, and the borders it takes you to of your own perceptions of your capacity to grow and to be, to think and to do. God is ready with a divine design for your life to take you beyond. Trust in Him and He will carry you to new heights beyond anything you ever dreamed of before.

Lessons of Faith (One): Trust


The greatest lessons we can learn come from the deeper meaning that faith has in our lives. As we are it teaches us as we ought to be, as we desire to be, so it instructs us as we need to be. The only questions that then remain are what does God require of us so we can live up to His potential and what gifts has He given us so we can?

In the stress of life’s journey we sometimes forget that, don’t we? It’s hard to keep focus on, especially in our times of trouble and hardship we pray for our Heavenly Father to reveal His plan for us as we battle with our deeper sense of purpose and meaning. It’s not for lack of trying, it’s just that we can’t see it when the times get rough and the world around us seems slightly blurred. We want to do more, to be more but we can’t entirely see how we are supposed to do it. We look for the answers but, in the end, they seem far removed and far distant from us as we do.

The thing about it is that it’s never quite as complicated as we make it. Granted none of us can see the future, and we don’t know what’s going to happen next in our lives. God, on the other hand does, and He has a purpose in it. (Isaiah 46:10) For everything we can’t see, and that we can’t understand or yet comprehend, the Lord, our God, can and does and in this, He creates, through us, something of the divine with miraculous wonder. (Romans 8:29) Perhaps we may not always fully grasp what that is or what that means but it doesn’t make His presence any less amazing and wonderful as He guides us according to His amazing plan.

It’s here that we must come to realize that the first and the foremost lesson of faith is a lesson of trust.

On a grander scale we perhaps already know that. After all, we are saved by grace through faith and not of our works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Understanding that our blessed Savior is the way, the truth and the light, we know we come to God through Him, (John 14:6) washed clean through His precious blood. (Isaiah 1:18) We trust God, we trust His plan with the most important parts of ourselves, with the greatest portion of our being, our hearts and our souls and our spirits. Yet, we still find it hard to let go of the smaller things, and why? Maybe because, though that gift of grace transforms us, it deals with all that is unseen, with all that we don’t necessarily confront on a day to day basis. The smaller things, they wage there own little wars on us day by day, moment by moment, chipping away at us, taking more and more from us to the point were we suddenly think that we have to take it all into our hands.

The truth is, until we learn to let go of the small, until we learn to let go of the daily troubles we have, putting them into God’s hands as we leave the burdens we have at the feet of Christ, whatever they may be, (Matthew 11:28-30) there is no rest, there is no peace for us, just worries and struggles that seem to overwhelm and overpower us. Simply put, trust in God is letting go and letting Him lead. It is realizing there are things that we cannot and will not ever be able to change, so, instead of spending our time worrying about them, we need to let Him worry about them for us as we travel down the path of our life. It’s a matter of finally allowing yourself the comfort of knowing that the God of the large is the God of the small, and He is going to care for you regardless of what you may be facing. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Yes, it may be that God is going to lead you to make some hard choices and perhaps some tough decisions, He is perhaps going to tell you that the road you are going to have to travel down isn’t going to be easy. Yet, in that first lesson of faith comes the realization that every challenge you face is not a challenge that you and you alone have faced, that only you have known. God has seen it all through the lives of His saints and He has provided a way forward so they have been able to reach the promises through the hope He offers. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just remember, He is going to take you down a path, when you put You trust in Him, that you might not have thought of, that might make you question but that is ultimately going to work wonders through you.

So what are you holding on to? What is it that you are continuing to hold on to? Release it. Release it to God and take His hand, it is reaching out to you. Whatever you think or whatever you feel like you know or don’t know, give it over to God. He is there to take it from you. Sure, God can work with you even if you refuse to let go and let Him lead, but it’s just going to end up creating a lot more hardship and pain as you wrestle not just with your problems or with your plans, but with Him too.

Find strength in faith, find strength in trust, for when you do a whole new world will be opened to you in ways you little thought possible in the wonders of God’s plan that works through the great and the small. Then, with that lesson, will you take the first steps towards learning what you need to know at the Masters feet as He directs you in the wonders of His love for you.

That Feeling of Being a Failure

It’s hard, at times, not to feel a bit like a failure, isn’t it? Sometimes we know exactly where these feelings coming from, we tried something and it didn’t work or something in our lives just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a lot easier in those moments because we know what the problem is, and, even if we don’t necessarily know how to fix it, we can pinpoint it, we can put our finger on it and we can try to figure out how to make that change, even if we know it’s going to be slow going.

The real challenge is when we feel like that failure and we don’t necessarily know where it comes from. It’s when this darkness seems to just twist and turn around us, and we can’t quite manage to put our finger on what it is or why it’s there. It could be a combination any number of things and yet nothing at the same time, just this lingering feeling that something isn’t right, and you’re the one to blame.

Have you ever felt that way? Looking around, kind of questioning what’s wrong with your life as you know it’s something but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Slowly you start to feel overwhelmed and overshadowed until finally it becomes this inescapable feeling that dominates so many of your thoughts as you wonder what you’re even doing, trying to define your life, trying to figure it all out, but not entirely sure where to go or where to start.

In a sense there is no simple answer to this question, except life itself.

You see, by its very nature, life and living is an act of faith. It is an understanding that it is going to be wrought with challenges and adversity, with struggles and things that we just don’t seem to understand. Yet it is also a question of living for the moments of joy and peace, knowing that whatever darkness may surround us, they do come and they wrap around us in ways that bring to us a hope that we can feel devoid of in our lives at times. Perhaps we don’t even realize we are living in that faith, but, by living and breathing, by taking those steps forward we are seeking out the answers that we need to find our place.

The beauty of it though is that it is nothing that we have to go through alone. To live in faith is never to walk a solitary or lonely path. It is to have a constant companion with you, a confidant who doesn’t only know every unspoken place within you, but who doesn’t need for you to say it to see it. As our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, reminds us, even when we feel the most alone, we never are because God, our Heavenly Father, is there to carry us through the most difficult of chapters and the most trying of times. (John 16:32-33) In this love, and commitment to us, He never fails us or forsakes us. (Joshua 1:5)

Yes, there are perhaps going to be times in our lives when it feels like the world, when it feels like our world, is just nothing that we quite understand, and we feel like a failure in it, unable to necessarily do anything right. Yet that’s never just the end of the story for us. There is a plan for our lives, one that has been set out from the day in which we were conceive, appointed by the Great Architect and the Grand Designer of the Universe (Jeremiah 1:5), the Creator who has made all things small and large, who takes not only an active interest in your life, but whose hand guides it.

For whatever other struggles we may know, for whatever failures we may think have taken hold of our lives, that is nothing more than the beginning of the story, a story of self-discover and self-awareness that shows us our true worth and value beyond anything we ever quite knew. It just has to come with the understanding that though God answers all questions for us, giving to us freely of His knowledge, (James 1:5) not all answers we feel we need are the ones that we need right at that moment. It’s a matter of relying on His understanding, His timing, more than our own, knowing that it will come. (Habakkuk 2:3) Revealing itself in its own time, in His time, it comes when we need it most.

Failure, for however it might feel, for whatever challenges it may bring, or wherever it may come from, is nothing more than a path towards a greater end if we let it be. Yes, perhaps we don’t necessarily even know why we feel like a failure, but then, whatever those feelings are, or wherever they come from, they need not weaken you if you understand they are not meant to drag you down, but rather push you forward. The struggles that it brings, it is meant to teach us more about ourselves, about who we are and what we want, about the intrinsic value of success that could and would otherwise be lost on us.

We are defined by what we let define us. We can define ourselves by what truly matters if we look at each day of our lives as a deeper journey into our faith, and understand that these feelings, they are not defining feelings, but tools to help us build the path, to lay the brick work that will lead us down the road of our greatest possible success, a success that our Heavenly Father wants for us to have in our lives.

Wounded Yet Not Slain

There’s an old poem, I think it was by John Dryden, that I’ve heard used, recited over and over at the end of a hard fought battle, at the end of a loss that has one damaged and hurt, that left them wondering and in pain. It goes a little something like, “I am sore wounded, but I am not slain, I’ll lay me down to bleed a while, then I’ll rise to fight again.”

I always liked that verse. In a life that is filled with trials, where triumph and victories are never quite assured to us, where they are never really promised to us, something about it always spoke to me. It always seemed to say that whatever life throws, whatever challenges it may have, it may damage us a little, but in the end, we are not dead until that moment when we are put in the ground or our ashes are spread around us. In a sense it becomes a question of how much fight is left within us when the moments of adversity hit.

After all, as Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

This is something that our Heavenly Father, looking down on the lives of His precious children, understands all too well about this world, isn’t it?

It begs the question, what struggles are leaving you wounded in your daily life? What challenges are you facing? What is leaving you wounded amidst the hardships that you face? Does it seem like it is just too much for you to face? Is it seeming like it is more than you can handle as you lay to bleed, lacerated by the deeper perils of this world?

As disciples of Christ it seems like they are there, lurking around every corner: temptations, trials, tribulations that push on us with a force that bears down on us with a crippling weight. As we struggle not to be crushed, there are moments when we wonder if we can even go on. After all, everything seems to be changing around us and we can’t see the world in the same way again.

It’s in these moments when we need to draw on the comfort and the assurances of a God who loves us. After all, He isn’t just a distant figure who tells us that, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 11:1) No, He goes further than that, reminding us that, through Christ, all things are possible for us regardless of whatever challenges may be there. (Philippians 4:13) We just need to lay our burdens at the feet of our blessed Savior to find the miracles of hope, (Matthew 11:29-30) that hope that abides in faith to give us the perseverance to go on day by day.

Perhaps it may seem like it is too much. Perhaps, left wounded and bleeding, we can’t help but weep, wondering to ourselves how we can go on. We are not alone in those moments though, we never have been, regardless of how it may feel. Even as our troubles mount and we feel at times like nobody could ever understand what  we are going through, the truth is that God has, through the lives of His saints, seen it all. Job, David, Paul, Stephen, and countless others, even our Savior, Christ Jesus, have faced the deepest and most powerful of pains, and found their comfort in God to move forward even when it seemed as if all had been lost and the burdens  were too much for them. As the Apostle Paul put it, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

As the world wounds you, dear disciples, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, find a place of quiet rest and lay down in the peaceful mediation of the Lord, remembering the words of David, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4) Faith, and a deeper understanding of it, a deeper trust in it, will let you abide in hope in the wonders of God’s blessed love and comfort, healing even the deepest of hurts and the most painful of scars, so that, with endurance, you shall have the chance to rise again.

Take that promise, take that love, and let it guide you in the wonders of the miracles that it offers you. In this world, with all of its battles, it is the surest weapon you have to protect you, the surest of medicines to heal you.

May This Cup

Knowing His inevitable end, the pain, the suffering, and the pain that would come in the form of His sacrifice;  stricken, smitten and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4), Christ waited patiently for the appointed hour in which the prophesies would be fulfilled.

The truth is, it had to be hard for Him, and we are given a brief look into the mindset of the Blessed Savior as He prayed to His Heavenly Father, pleading “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) He knew it wasn’t. After all,  His entire purpose would be fulfilled in the stations of the cross. Had God found a way for “this cup” to be taken from Him then there would have been no reason for Him to have been made man, no real point to His ministry. Anything and everything He was could have easily be fulfilled through the Prophets who came and went before Him.

Yet perfect God and perfect man, there was a nature to Christ that was much like our nature. How could there not when, to be our substitute, He had to be as we are?

Still, as disciples of Christ, given to His teachings, do we have those moments when we pray for whatever it is that we are facing to be lifted from us, to be taken from us? And when we do, how often do we put that last statement in, “Not as I will, but as you will”? When God does not take “this cup” from us, do we then associate it with Him not hearing us or being carefully absent from us? Or do we see it as something different altogether?

You see, though no suffering, no pain comes from God, from our loving Heavenly Father, it does not exclude the possibility and the fact that, in a sinful world so far from the nature that God has intended for us, suffering does exist. In promising to hear our prayers (Psalm 34:15) God does not promise to end every trial that we face. What He promises is that it will never be more than we can take or that we can handle. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Through His blessings He gives us the strength to endure (Philippians 4:13) as He makes us more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37)

The truth is, God is never absent from our lives, whatever it may be that we are forced to face, whatever struggles we may find that we have to endure. Yes, we can pray that they are removed from us, that the burden of them, the pain that they may bring, is something that we no longer have to shoulder. But God does not guarantee to remove it from us because it is perhaps something that we are meant to go through in order to get where we are going, to become the person that God intended for us to be.

This is, at times, hard for us to understand but the struggles that we have to face are not won by being removed from us. They are won through perseverance and hope in the knowledge that everything serves a purpose according to God’s love for His children and the strength we are given through the power of the Spirit. (Romans 5:3-5)

Consider for a moment whatever struggles you may face, whatever challenges that are there in front of you, consider how you pray and have faith in God during these times. Now consider the struggles of Christ and the prayer He offered to His Heavenly Father, the trust He had that even during the greatest of trials and the most enduring of tribulations there was a divine purpose in it all. Yes, pray according to hope, but more importantly pray according to God’s will and God’s plan for your life, understanding that it is greater than anything you could have known or thought, even when the times are tough and the struggles are before you.

Patience, strength and courage through the most difficult of times, the understanding that sacrifices must be made in our lives, even when they are hard to understand — these are the lessons of our blessed Savior during this Easter Season. The question then is, how will your faith guide you when it seems as if it is just too much to endure? Will you pray for God’s will for you or will you demand for your will to be done by God?