When you don’t understand the “why”

cryingwomanseyesFor Christians, what matters most is learning to trust God regardless of whatever we face in this life even when we don’t like or understand it. Like me, you have probably thought I don’t understand what God is doing. Or perhaps, you have asked, “Why God allowed this to happen?” Whether you thought or actually voiced your issue with God, it’s really not significant.

Truth is, it is impossible for our finite minds to comprehend God’s sovereignty.

Holy Scriptures makes it clear: Romans 11:33-34: “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?” Also in Isaiah 55:8-9, God spoke through the prophet, saying, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In essence, our limitations keep us from grasping things that happen in our personal life and in the world. Therefore, God does not tell us everything nor does He owe us an explanation. Because He is sovereign, all-knowing and all-powerful, He only reveals what He wants us to know as it relates to His purpose and for His glory. Think of it like this: If He told us or reveals everything to us concerning His plan, we would have no reason to believe, have faith in, rely on and trust Him. He wants us to trust Him! He reveals Himself to us on an as needed basis and by our faith. For example, if we need peace and have faith, He reveals Himself as Jehovah Shalom; if we need healing and have faith, He reveals Himself as Jehovah Rapha.

I have learned this: As painful as challenges and events may be in my life and family life, I must trust God and believe His word. I stand firmly on Romans 8:28.

In the words of Babbie Mason’s song, “Trust His Heart”:

He alone is faithful and true

He alone knows what is best for you

When you don’t understand

When you don’t see His plan

When you can’t trace His hand

Trust His Heart

I have concluded that I may never know or understand the why, but what I am learning to do through life’s challenges is trust Him completely; knowing that if I belong to Him and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He will never leave me nor forsake me. I am confident that He will care for and comfort anyone who turns to Him in faith to be their loving Father. It is easy to blame God for the negative and painful things that happen in this life. But it does not change anything—God is still God; He is still good, faithful and true, and if we look closely at the situation, chances are we will find a reason to be thankful.

Recently, I watched Myles Munroe, Jr. make a public statement just three days after his parents’ death in the plane crash; he said with conviction, “Although God may never explain himself, He will reveal himself.”

For Christians, what matters most is learning to trust God regardless of whatever we face in this life even when we don’t like or understand it. However, the tough question is, will we be in a position see Him when He reveals Himself and then gladly receive what He offers to meet us at the point of our need?

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Trusting His Heart

By Michael Brick and John L. Mone   of Associated Press

By Michael Brick and John L. Mone of Associated Press

There is so much devastation and destruction going on in the world today—bombings, explosions, tornadoes, murder, violent acts against each other—all kinds of criminal activity. If you’re honest, like me, you have probably said, “I don’t understand why God allows these terrible things to happen.” 

I’m not writing this in an attempt to defend God; no one can come to His defense, nor does He need anyone to defend Him. Trying to defend God would be absolutely ridiculous!

I am mainly writing to help myself and encourage you to learn to trust God completely when it comes to dealing with life’s challenging difficulties that we cannot understand.

Like Apostle Paul, here’s what I have concluded:

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” (Romans 11:33 NLT).  

Tornado damaged home in Moore, Oklahoma (WQAD Photo)

Tornado damaged home in Moore, Oklahoma (WQAD Photo)

Truth is, God hasn’t told us everything. He reveals only what He wants us to know on an “as needed basis” and we have to trust Him for the unknown. 

Our finite minds and limitations keep us from fully grasping some things that happen in our personal lives and in the world.  If God told us everything, we’d have no reason to trust His sovereignty and His faithfulness to carry us through our darkest days of grief and sorrow.

I admit, I have a tendency to be totally independent and do things my way rather than God’s way.  To be honest, most of the time, I don’t like God’s way of doing things. That is because I can’t see the “big picture”—the end from the beginning, as He does. From life’s experiences, I’m learning to rely totally on Him as my Source,  my Strength and the Lifter of my head. Above all, His grace is sufficient for me.

The greater the calamities in life the better I can understand to some degree Job’s ordeal.  The end of Job’s story gives me consolation and hope that just as God restored Job’s losses, He is able and willing to do the same for us who believe.

I have learned this:  As painful as the challenging events in life may be, I must trust God’s heart.  Babbie Mason’s song, “Trust His Heart” says it best:

God is too wise to be mistaken

God is too good to be unkind

 So when you don’t understand

When you don’t see his plan

When you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart.”

With God’s comfort and peace this song got me through the toughest experience in my life—the sudden tragic death of my 9-year old grandson.

May I encourage you to join me in trusting God’s Heart?

Power: How important is it, after the storm, Part 2

Photo By SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

After the storm, I pray that all will have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise.  Like many of you, I watched the news and read about the destruction and devastation caused by Super storm Sandy throughout the eastern coast, which impacted some twenty-three states.  Sandy has been classified as an unprecedented storm by those who have covered storms in the past and weather related news for many years.

As I watched and prayed, I was saddened because many will write it off as “Mother Nature” doing her thing…it’s just something that happens.   I am certainly thankful for man’s giftedness to provide a scientific explanation of how storms are formed, to track them, and give warning to prepare and evacuate, if necessary. However, I believe preparation should go beyond the physical.  When the warning to prepare is given, it’s the perfect time to prepare spiritually— where are you in your relationship with God? Pray. Repent. Ask for forgiveness. Do you even believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? What if there’s a real heaven and hell, where do you want to spend eternity if you die in the storm? Are you ready to go, if you must? Ask God to save you, rescue your life to fulfill your life purpose if you know your heart is wicked and evil. This is the essence of spiritual preparation.

While systems are in place to track and trace a storm, no man can stop it! No one can change the course of its winds powerful enough to uproot huge trees, or stop the fifty-foot waves and floodwaters from breaking through dams and levees.  Storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes should help us put life and power in perspective.  Only God can speak to the winds and waves and they obey His voice. Psalm 107:29, “He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.” Mark 4:35-41, records this unprecedented power that Jesus demonstrated, which gripped the attention of the disciples.

Knowing this is reason enough to give greater consideration to how important is man’s power and authority in comparison to God as being all-powerful and all-knowing.  It’s something about being vulnerable or in a life or death situation that raises our awareness to what matters most.  Usually it is in times of disaster and tragedies that we personally and as a nation realize pain is not prejudice, and death does not discriminate.

Consequently, my prayer is always that people ponder and give deeper thought to the spiritual implications or supernatural aspect of storms that sends a message about power and authority. A storm reminds us of our human frailty, our vulnerability, and speaks to the power and authority that’s totally out of man’s control.   Storms should get our attention. They should make us to search within, change our actions and attitudes, look at life differently—its sacredness. After the storm, we should seize the opportunity to regroup and reevaluate our priorities.  Those greatly impacted by a storm should forever look at life differently; it should never be taken for granted, if you survived the storm or even if you lost loved ones in the storm.

Kurt Wilberding, a fashion and street photographer, snapped this Instagram photo in lower Manhattan, after Superstorm Sandy made its way through New York City.

The destruction and devastation our fellow Americans are experiencing as a result of Sandy should remind us all of what matters most—love for one another, promote justice for all, and to walk humbly with our God.

Once again, disaster reminds us that division is the greatest downfall of a nation that “supposedly” believes in democracy.  But,, even after the storm, there is hope.  The LORD God always keeps His promise amid the destruction, devastation and sorrow for the lives lost.  After the storm, I pray that all will make the decision to have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise. You are not alone.

Praying for peace after the storm,

9/11: Lest we forget…

Photography by: Pool, Getty Images

Lest we forget that day that we mourned together as a nation, we may never learn to celebrate together as a nation.

So every year on September 11th, we are reminded that pain is not prejudice and sorrow does not segregate on basis of national origin, color of skin, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender.  If that day we mourned together as a nation has taught us anything, it should be that we are all human beings, frail at our best; that life is sacred, and we can be here today and gone within an hour.

And lest we forget, we must be reminded that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It is my prayer that we as Americans will rise above petty differences, and pessimistic perceptions; put an end to polarizing political views, and outlandish promises to get elected; stop racial ratifications, and repent of immoral and illicit behaviors; seek God’s forgiveness, and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and live in peace and love with one another as brothers and sisters.

Photograph by: Spencer Platt, GETTY IMAGES

I pray for those who suffered such great loss on that day eleven years ago.  I pray that they are healed and restored, and they are able celebrate the life of their loved one and friends each year with happy memories that will give comfort and peace.

May God continue to bless America, and shed His Grace on her.

Again we mourn

Here we are again, a Nation mourning the loss of our fellow Americans.  We have been hit with another tragedy that pierces our heart, redirects our focus and reminds us of what matters most.

My thoughts and prayers are toward Aurora, Colorado, the family and friends of the victims, the survivors, and yes, the family of the suspect apprehended by law enforcement.   I can only imagine in part the grief gripping those who are trying to comprehend this atrocity.

As in the past when tragedy struck,  many are asking why. My question is not so much as to why this happened.  After all the mass shootings we’ve had, my question is when will we as a nation and a people come together before a tragedy shock into reality…stop us in our tracks for a day, bringing political agendas to a halt…when will we as a nation fall on our knees crying out to God to save our lives before innocent lives are snuffed out, or when will we hold prayer vigils in our neighborhoods and churches before a massacre.   It’s obvious sadistic crimes and unimaginable violence have transferred from the big screen, and video games into minds of our children, youth and young adults. It’s reality with real guns and ammunition that kill innocent people—young and old.  It is not the figment of one’s imagination penned in a script to be acted out on a stage. It’s being played out in real life by real people in desperation.

Life is sacred and fragile, and death is a reality.  But that reality can be even more painful when it leaves us wondering what could have been done to prevent such a tragic outcome; or are we doing everything we can to save lives, or are we doing more to destroy lives and promote hopelessness among our own people.

Tragedy is not tailor-made for certain class of people.  Pain is not prejudice.  We are all human—we all bleed red blood; we all hurt regardless of the color of our skin,  religious beliefs, gender, or sexual orientation.  Death does not discriminate. And evil is ever-present lurking to lure any unsuspecting soul into the abyss. Moreover, God is always present to help us get through any tragedy when we open our hearts to receive His comforting strength, believe His Word and obey it. I choose to believe that we are still blessed and that He mourns with us, again.

Jessica Ghawi, aka Jessica Redfield is just one victim that has been identified and her story is one we should take notice of. Her life was spared last month in a mall shooting in Toronto, but today her family mourns her loss.  We mourn with you.  On June 5, 2012, she posted her thoughts on the Eaton Center shooting in Toronto on her blog.  Her story is one that should redirect our focus, and change our perspective on what matters most.  Here’s an excerpt from her blog:

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.

Grace to handle “it”

My very dear and close friend sent me this word today!  It was two weeks ago (Friday afternoon, June 8, 2012) that I received that phone call about the passing of my only grandson, James, in a single car accident.  It changed not only my agenda for that day, but I believe it also changed my agenda for life.  Like an oversized arrow,  it pierced my heart and left a hole so big that only the Master can mend with GRACE.   This word is so “on-time” for today.  I just had to share it with my faithful readers.  Just as I am being strengthened and comforted by God’s Holy presence, I believe there’s someone else who needs to experience God’s grace too.  We may never understand or even like what God allows to happen that so deeply grieves our heart, but I choose to believe there’s a purpose and plan beyond our comprehension.  And, at the end of the day, I am compelled to say, “Lord, I trust you.”

“HE GIVES MORE GRACE.” JAMES 4:6 NKJV

 

The grace to handle it

          Nancy and Ed Hulzinga were at church rehearsing for the Christmas program when their home burned down. It wasn’t their first tragedy that year. Three months earlier when a friend, a widow with two teenagers, died of cancer, the Hulzingas took her kids into their family. So when the house was destroyed it wasn’t just their home they lost, it was the home of two kids who’d already lost their parents. The following week, as they sifted through the ashes, they found a slip of paper that survived the fire. On it they read these words: “Contentment: Realizing God has already provided everything we need for our present happiness.” God gives you “more grace” when you walk through the fiery trials.

One Bible teacher says: “Our perspective changes when we catch a glimpse of the purpose of Christ. Take that away, and it’s nothing more than a bitter, terrible experience. Suffering comes in many forms, but His grace is always there to carry us beyond it. I’ve endured a sufficient number of trials to say without hesitation that only Christ’s perspective can replace resentment with rejoicing. Jesus is the central piece of suffering’s puzzle. If we fit Him into place, the rest begins to make sense.” Donna VanLiere writes: “When life blindsides us…and the diagnosis, abuse, foreclosure, broken marriage, death, or financial collapse brings us to our knees…grace says there’s more love after infidelity, more joy after the diagnosis, and more life after financial ruin…grace is real…an indomitable gift with power to change your life. But it comes with one condition – like any gift, you have to reach out and take it.”

 Bob Gass

The Word for you today.

 

Thank you, Bob Gass for this timely word!!!

“Grandma, I’m okay.”

James Charles Phillips

I am writing from my broken heart that’s leaking a steady stream of tears as I try to awaken from this nightmare.  I didn’t know that our time together on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012 would be the last time I’d see him light up a room; or that it would be our last grandmother and grandson time together.   I didn’t know that 11 days later he would be gone… so soon.   Yet, I am confident that by faith, this too shall pass—the heaviness that weighs on my heart, the queasy that has set up residence in my stomach, and the uncontrollable sobs that give way to emotional outburst when I reflect on the fact that he has transitioned from this earthly life to life everlasting.

Of course, I would say, his life was cut short too soon.   But  I remember that our days are numbered and only God knows the exact length of time here on earth.  So what’s short or long by my measurements cannot be in alignment with God’s timeline.   I am convinced that there are no surprises with God. He knew on March 2, 2003 that James’ last day here on earth would be June 8, 2012.  He knew all the details of the horrific accident that claimed James’ young life. He knew the pain that would pierce our heart due to the sudden tragic loss of James’ life.  He saw the accident…He saw what really happened although witnesses would say differently. God knew everything that would take place that day at that time—there came a day. It was the day that a moment in time darkness engulfed our family and tried to snuff out the light that shines through faith in Jesus Christ. 

However, I choose to trust God; to take Him at His word.  I choose to follow the Light of Hope that one day I will see James again. But until then, I will listen attentively as I have these past three nights, to his little voice speaking to my spirit saying, “Grandma, I’m okay.”

A grieving grandmother, but not one that grieves as if there’s no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

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