Monthly Archives: December 2015
This Psalm used to be one of the most memorized chapters of the Bible. It was probably the only chapter that most Christians knew by heart. I love it because it teaches us about the nature of God. I suspect that God revealed these truths to David while he sat alone at night tending his sheep.
Here is what I have learned from David’s reflections.
God is a personal caretaker of all who listen for His voice. “The Lord is my shepherd” (vs. 1)
God is the great provider of our needs. “I shall not be in want” (vs. 1).
God is a divine and perfect leader. “He leads me beside still waters” (vs. 2)
God provides constant opportunities to renew one’s faith. “He restores my soul” (vs. 3)
God is always around interacting in our life. “For you are with me” (vs. 4).
God ultimately wins. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (vs. 4).
God is intent on us reaching the highest ethic possible. “He guides me in the path of righteousness” (vs. 5).
God is good and loving. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life (vs. 6).
God is eternal. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (vs. 6).
Pain or Gain? Snippet #1
Every human being endures a variety of pains or suffering in his/her life. And, only to a limited degree, does right living endorsed by the discipline of the Christian faith shield us from certain types of suffering. Helmut Thielicke, a noted theologian, says that one of the greatest defects of many Christian leaders is their erroneous teaching that the faithful will not suffer. That is a ridiculous myth. Everyone will suffer–the key is learning to do what is necessary to transform pain into gain. And, everyone would love to know how to do that. Scripture and other sources of wisdom can help. But for today–expect to suffer, but don’t always think that pain is your fault!
Pain or Gain? Snippet #2
Pain and suffering are part and parcel of the human predicament. Focusing on the possible futility of life because of pain and suffering played a part in the birth of nihilism–the unfortunate philosophical position that life has no meaning. The nihilists get lost in the quandary of their suffering and consider life not worth living. The good news is we can find a resting place through our faith while suffering.
Pain or Gain? Snippet #3
The German and Danish words for crisis are angst and angustia, which mean “to be in a squeeze”. Pain puts in the squeeze. The word distress appears 229 times in the Old Testament. In fact the Jews have always been surrounded with suffering. Why should the followers of the most famous Jew be any different? Jesus endured the weight of the world’s sin upon his shoulders. Can you imagine the suffering the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life? It was as bad an end to life as anyone can imagine. Yet, in a matter of 72 hours the angst of pain transforms supernaturally into eternal hope. Now that is going through pain to arrive at perfect gain.
Pain or Gain? Snippet #4
Life is not always a bowl of cherries. Erma Bombeck wrote “Sometimes it is the pits.” Babies get a simple sample when they pass through the birth canal under incredible physical duress, are thrust into an environment where they nearly catch a chill, get their butt slapped by a doctor 40 times their size, have to lay in wet and dirty diapers, sometimes suffer diaper rash, get fed when someone else is ready, have to eat spinach, and sooner or later fall out of bed. They face all of that with little understanding of the word HOPE. But, they make it. I have learned that despite some bad moments, days, and months, the future has incredible possibilities for love, joy, and peace. I plan to hang around for the gain even in the face of pain.
Pain or Gain? Snippet #5
The anatomy of pain and crisis is not easy to summarize, but the crisis of the crucifixion of Jesus outlines a helpful insight to approach pain and grief. The Lord was aware that he was in crisis from the time he arrived in Jerusalem and handled it with the dignity and spiritual stature that we would want to emulate. We have to believe that Jesus walked so boldly through those days of pain because he had one eye focused on the future victory of the resurrection and eternity while the rest of his body endured the pain of the present. Although no pain compares to the burden of dying for the sins of world, any pain we might face is lowered by focusing on the reward of eternal life.
Pain or Gain? Snippet #6
We can identify eight clear stages of pain and suffering.
- There is the build-up toward the crisis. (We can see many crisis approaching.)
- There is the tremendous weight of the emotional, mental, and physical pain of the crisis.
- There is our reaction to the crisis whether depression, anger, denial, shock, immobility, disbelief, lashing out, etc.
- There is trying to understand and interpret the meaning of the crisis or pain.
- There is an opportunity to not bear the weight of the crisis alone. (Think about who is best equipped to help.)
- There is a time to learn and grow from the crisis. (It is actually an opportunity to grow closer to God.)
- There is a time to decide upon our response to the crisis. (Try to find scriptures that identifies possible responses.)
- There is an opportunity to turn God for hope in what may seem hopeless. (The suffering and then risen Lord reminds us that “Because He Lives We can Face Tomorrow.”)
Pain or Gain? Snippet #7
Here are four concrete ways to deal with a crisis.
- We are adequate to face every crisis if we keep up our stability, endurance, faith, and hope. We need to review every crisis in the light of those four resources.
- It is ultimately your choice to decide how you will respond best to a crisis. No one should rob you of making that decision.
- Hope remains the best aid to enduring a crisis. If we can keep focused on the future that always includes God’s power to give us the maximum victory, there is no way to lose.
- Any crisis is best met by taking the crisis to God in solitude and then quietly wait for the healing and strength of Jesus to fill your mind, heart, and body.
The words of the hymn “Trust and Obey” summarize it well.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
“Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You.” (Psalm 84:11-12)