Two sets of parents very recently held funerals for their twelve-year-old sons just three weeks before Christmas. I can’t even begin to imagine their heartbreak. Even though it hurts just to think about the grief being endured, I take comfort in Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. May God grant them the grace to live each day in His strength.
Under these circumstances it is difficult to say Happy Sunday.
“Heaven Is So Real”. That’s the name of a book I couldn’t quite finish reading because most of the content left me wondering what is real and what isn’t. However, the author, Choo Thomas, did describe Heaven and Hell in some detail and how attainment of each is realized, which also had me wondering how many people have ever given these two places any thought at all.
Christianity makes up one-third of the world’s population. This religion teaches that the only way to Heaven, God’s abode, is to believe in Jesus, His Son…that he was born to save us, that he died to save us, and that he lives to save us from going to Hell. I believe. I believe I am not going to Heaven because I am a good person, do good deeds, live a good life, do not hurt anyone…I know that none of these things will get me into Heaven…only my belief in Jesus will get me there.
So far no one can “prove” that Heaven or Hell exists. However, after reading many descriptions of what Hell is presumed to be like, I am certainly glad I’m a believer.
It has been said that it is better to believe that God exists and to die and find out he doesn’t, than to not believe in him and die and find out that he does. In my opinion, that’s where Hell awaits.
Weighing the options; learning about the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) and choosing to believe, seems to me the best way to stay out of the “hot seat”.
The fourth prayer in Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To is, “God, Get Me Through This Suffering.” Here is an excerpt from this chapter, I Can’t Take It Anymore:
Now, there are many kinds of suffering we have to get through in this world. Some suffering is big and some suffering is small. But every kind can be tortuous in its own way–from toothaches to kidney stones; from migraine headaches to bouts of depression; from frustration at work to anxiety at home; from the sad, deteriorating death of the elderly to the sudden, shocking death of the young; from the grief that every son goes through when his mother dies to the unspeakable agony of two parents mourning the loss of their child. God says yes to all who come to him for help and comfort when they are in the midst of such trials. Notice I did not say that he promises to stop the suffering, or prevent if from happening in the first place, or alleviate it in any way. This may be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to faith, but we have to face it, head-on: God allows a lot of terrible things to happen.
It has been my experience that crying out to God in the midst of hurt and suffering, (especially childbirth!) that strength and peace are the almost immediate relief. However, having said that, most of my suffering comes from watching the suffering of others. When I see people bearing unbearable pain, enduring endless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation before surgery can be performed, being housebound due to physical conditions beyond their control, or hear the dastardly news of someone being beheaded because of another’s beliefs…my cry is then, “God, get them through their suffering!” Does he say yes to these prayers also? I do hope so!
Why does a once sweet love go sour? Physical beauty, passionate intimacy, whispered promises of undying love; these are the sweetness. But then, in some cases, venomous accusations, disrespect, hurtful remarks, begin to take their toll on sweet love, leaving one or the other party wondering, rightfully, what went wrong.
And then comes the time to reflect. Does physical beauty really matter? Is passionate intimacy the crux of a relationship? Were those whispered promises made in the heat of the passion?
Unkind comments made under the guise of love are like razor blades in sweet dough.
Wise old Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:6, Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and striving after wind.
Sweet and sour love? Only if it’s tasty to both parties with no heartburn to either.
Do you love to learn? There is not a day goes by that I do not yearn to learn something new. Realizing that even pain is a chance to gain an insight into life’s lessons, what I’ve learned over the past couple of days is to listen to my heart even more often, and to search it for clues as to what brings so much distress, both to ourselves and others.
What I learned (although it is really a re-learning) is we cannot control other people’s thoughts, nor how they choose to interpret life’s messages (and life offers so many messages), or if they even want to learn. How are we motivated to look at life and its challenges? By paying attention to what shows up on our blackboard, and not being too hasty to erase it without looking at all the angles (hypotenuse not included).
Of course, all this is in my humble opinion, but one thing that came out of this morning’s soul searching is the following new poem. It has been a while since a brand new poem has shown up on my pages, and here it is.