Holiday Season Pain

Since my past experience with holiday season pain, I am sensitive to the emotional and spiritual needs of people during the HopeforHolidaysholiday season.

I believe “holiday season pain” can be the worst. I also believe this time of the year strikes a chord of caring and great concern because I understand the heartbreak caused by the death of a loved one during the holiday season.  For me, it was the death of my mother the day after Christmas. Although the holiday pain is not so piercing now, I still remember it as if it was last night, although it has been 11 years since I experienced the “first” worst day of life, December 26, 2003, 12:01 a.m.
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Thanks!

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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?

Thoughts and Prayers

By Michael Brick and John L. Mone   of Associated Press

By Michael Brick and John L. Mone of Associated Press

 

Once again, grief and sorrow has invaded the lives of families and friends. This time, 1840 miles apart…from Boston to a small town, some may have never heard of–West, Texas.  Although the scenes were different, the pain is the same–immeasurable. Hearts are broken, people died, injuries are substantial and grief is like a blanket of darkness covering the minds of all affected. 

Some will call these explosions just coincidental . Some will dig deeper for hidden messages and spiritual meaning. Yet,  some will write them off nonchalantly as “life happens”.   Unashamed, I’m persuaded to believe nothing in life just happens!   Whatever you choose to believe, the one thing I believe we can agree on is that pain is not prejudice.  And as long as we live on this earth, pain is inevitable. Whether intentional or accidental, the one thing that these explosions, miles apart and different scenarios, has done is bring hope out of tragedy and turned our hearts and mind to prayer and solace in believing others are thinking about the injured and the many who face the pain of separation and grief.

When everything around us seems to explode, once again we are given the opportunity to embrace each other in love, offer words of comfort and pray believing that God hears and Jesus mourns with us, even though “evil” maybe rejoicing.   But in the fullness of His time, there will be no more pain, tears and sorrows.  This life, as we know it, will no longer be and those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be with Him in eternity. This is our hope in times of adversity and tragedy.

Praying!

 

 

 

Nevertheless, not my will…

32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

As I read the above passage, tears began to flow softly as I imagined how Jesus must have felt in that moment as He faced death knowing He had done nothing to deserve such a humiliating death. The separation from His Father was a pain that crushed his soul with grief, which made the ordeal seemingly impossible to face. I also thought how I would feel if my close friends I looked to for support at such a critical time in my life could not provide the support I wanted from them. It was a moment of being alone, yet not alone.

“My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” No one asked, “Why, Jesus? Why are you overwhelmed with grief? Why are you so sad?”

Did they not care what was going on with him? Surely they’d never seen him at this low point since being with him for three years. He’d always helped others, going to and fro caring for everyone that came to him for help—opening blind eyes, healing all manner of sicknesses and diseases, raising the dead, forgiving sins, working miracles and giving hope to the hopeless. Now he’s overwhelmed with grief. His simple request to Peter, James and John, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” How difficult could it be for those you consider your closest friends? From my own experiences I know it can be difficult when others don’t understand God’s plan for your life, or the depth of your grief. Sometimes what we expect of our friends is impossible even though what we ask seems to be a simple request. I’ve learned that surrendering totally to God’s will means releasing my family and friends from my expectations.

But when I read verse 35, I was immediately strengthened. Why? It reminded me of the power of prayer…crying out to the Father in my times of distress, when I’m overwhelmed by grief. Within Jesus’ prayer his relationship with the Father leaps off the page…”Abba, Father…everything is possible for you.” Although he makes his request known, he wants the will of his Father above his. This says to me that whatever I must face as a part of God’s plan for my life, regardless of how painful it is, God’s purpose for allowing me to go through it will supersede my understanding of that purpose. Therefore, I must trust Him to do the impossible and complete the work began.

After I’ve prayed, prayed and prayed again expressing my honest feelings to my Father, He sends the help I need to strengthen me to endure (Luke 22:43). When I’m strengthen and empowered to suffer the will of my Father, I can’t be upset with my family and friends. In essence, I can’t depend on them to give me what only the Father can, or to do what’s impossible for man but possible with God.

How often have you “cried out” asking God to take away your pain…to take away what’s unpleasant and uncomfortable? Yet, your prayer ends with, “Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.”

Gains and Losses

SOON TO BE RELEASED!

I’ve learned it’s so easy to focus more on our losses in the past that we lose sight of any spiritual gain in the future.I firmly believe that gains and losses are a necessary part of life.  I also believe that when professing and practicing Christians lose, God has a plan and way of restoring or replacing what we’ve lost with something better and more valuable.  Usually, it requires an attitude adjustment on our part before we can attempt to make sense out of what we’ve experienced in terms of loss. 

Additionally, if we don’t assess the gains as being more valuable than what we lost, from God’s perspective, we may never realize this truth; and we certainly won’t appreciate the goodness and sovereignty of God. Why? Because we’re too focused on our loss; we are crying hopelessly and looking backward rather than forward to the possibilities of having better and being greater in God.
Also, I am persuaded to believe the greater concern we have is with a carnal analysis of what we define as gains in comparison to what we consider loss.  Unfortunately, our analyses are calculated from a worldly system of operation and thought based on past personal experiences and present unpleasant circumstances.  If we itemize our losses and gains from a worldly system rather than a Kingdom view, we can be easily deceived into believing God is not trustworthy, and is out to destroy us. (That’s a lie from the father of lies!).   Consequently, we itemize our gains and losses from a faulty and unstable system rather than align with God’s way of operation.  No, it doesn’t mean our losses are unimportant nor have no value to God. However, it does means that God sees beyond the here and now.  Remember, God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).  So often what is valuable to us, based on our limited knowledge and understanding, has no real value in the Kingdom, and is useless when it comes to fulfilling God’s purposes.

For example, Apostle Paul came to a point in his life when he made an analysis of his gains and losses. He itemized using the same value system as God.  Paraphrasing, he said in Philippians 3:7-11, what were his assets (gains) he wrote them off as a loss.  Why? Because what was most valuable to him was gaining Christ… having Christ…knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings.  Sufferings! Are you serious? No one wants to suffer, right?  Obviously, Paul viewed all the suffering he endured for the sake of Christ as gain! That was Paul’s mindset.   What about you and me? What are we willing to lose so that we might gain for Christ’s sake?

Sadly, too many Christians fall apart and panic when they experience loss of materials items. No one should deny the truth that it hurts to lose stuff… even loved ones. I know the pain of separation!  It hurts to lose anything you consider as valuable; especially life. But what can be gained? A more constant and consistent prayer life, deeper trust and dependency on Christ to sustain,  increased faith that looks to God for provisions, better stewardship practices,  a greater witness to the faithfulness and peace of God during life’s storm, greater commitment to the work of ministry and helping others in need.  God gives you so much more in place of what you lost when you trust Him as your Source.  

Beloved reader, remember it’s so easy to focus more on our losses in the past that we lose sight of any spiritual gain in the future. Also, like Apostle Paul, we haven’t been perfected yet, but let’s press forward and grab hold of what God desires for us.  Let’s press in to get to that place where God is calling us to reach in Christ Jesus. Let’s not focus on our past losses, and what we’ve left behind so much that we miss what God wants to do  in our lives now, and what He has destined for your future. 

Moving forward on the path to promise,

Book! Soon to be released!

The Path of Peace

My faith says if I pray hard enough and believe long enough things will change.

Is it too much to hope for? Am I considered naïve to even think things could possibly be different from what they are now? Is it not my privilege to think…to believe…to pray…to hope…to expect?

Here’s what I think; here is what I believe, and pray and hope and even imagine…

Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace…

 

That’s it! The path of peace!

 

The path of peace will lead us to that blissful place of eternal rest. There’ll be no more sorrow, tears, heartache and pain.

 The path of peace will lead us to that majestic ambiance of glory unimaginable.  No natural eye can behold its brilliance and exquisite décor.

 No finite mind can comprehend its power.  No frail body made of dust can stand under its weight of glory.

 Oh! The Path of Peace.

It is a path that anyone can take to find their way to the Father.  He has been waiting since before the foundation of the world to welcome you into the family.

 

Do you want to know how to get on this path of peace?  Because I sense, you’re tired and weary from the burdens you bear. Your life is spinning out of control. Your mind is tormented by nightmares. The daily challenges you face are daunting; they leave you drained of strength to survive.  You’re restless although you take sleeping pills. Your system has become immune to Prozac. You feel hopeless; you’re exhausted because your days are spent worrying about anything…everything. You don’t have the power to sustain yourself.  You are tired of suffering from sickness and diseases. The substance abuse and sexual promiscuity are no longer gratifying.  You feel used and cheap. Your “pint-sized” self-esteem has evaporated into thin air. There is no satisfaction in anything you do. You are emotionally and mentally stressed by the pressures and cares of a life you’ve concluded is unfair and hopeless.  

 

The voice in your head is screaming louder and louder, “Kill yourself! It’s your only way out!”

 

NO! WAIT! Do not listen! It’s lie!  Suicide is NOT the way out! STOP!  Your solution is here!

 

TODAY, RIGHT NOW You CAN start the journey on the path of peace by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart as Savior and Lord.

 

Jesus was punished for our sins so that we may have peace (Isaiah 53:5).

Christ gives peace and rest to all who come to him in faith (Matthew 11:28-30).

Peace comes through justification by faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1).

Jesus gives peace (John 14:27).

 

I’m praying for you….Now

 Heavenly Father,

 Thank You for sending this word for that special individual who has no hope. It is because of Your unfailing love that You’re reaching out to them now. I pray that Your calming Presence embrace them now. Let Your peace overshadow and Your love uphold them.  Open their eyes to see beyond present chaos and calamities of life, and let them envision the beauty and tranquil place of glorious hope.  Father, it’s Your desire that we all have peace that exceeds our understanding.  And thank You, that You made provision by sending Your Son Jesus Christ as the Light to breakthrough like the majestic sunrise. Let the warmth of the Light shine and dispel the darkness that lurks in the soul of that beloved whose weary, battered and bruised. Mend their broken heart. Restore. Renew their mind. Change their life and make them new in Christ.

To start your journey on the path of peace, pray this prayer:

Heavenly Father,

 I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is Your Son; that He died on the cross and You raised Him from the dead. I confess that I am a sinner in need of salvation. Lord Jesus, come into my heart. I repent; I turn away from a life of sin and turn to You. Forgive me of my sins and make me whole. I receive You as my Savior and Lord.  Thank You, Father, for rescuing me from a destructive lifestyle and eternal damnation. Thank you for eternal life. I receive Your peace with thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

If you prayed this prayer in sincerity, you are saved! You are now on the path of peace. Make sure you pray daily, and read the Bible. Get connected with a local church where the Bible is taught, and you can fellowship with other believers. This practice will help you grow and become knowledgeable about the teachings of Christ, and the Word of God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

 

Visit Prayer Principles & Podcasts for more teaching resources, prayer coaching tips and sample prayers. 

 

 

 

 

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.