Saturday
Sep302017

Psalm 30 - The Transitory Nature of Human Suffering

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Life on earth is but a speck of time in the light of eternity. Our pain and suffering are but a passing moment that teach us to endure and turn to someone bigger than ourselves. Psalm 30 reveals David's understanding of the transitory nature of human suffering. He reflects, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Life is a series of pain, disappointments, and frustrations one after the other. But in between our lowest points are also moments marked by rejoicing and celebration such as the birth of a child, the union of two lovers in marriage, or the excitement of grandparents over their grandchildren. Life is hard. But life is also good.

Psalm 30 enumerates David's own personal battles and how he's been thrilled by answered prayers. He extols God for His protection from his enemies, rejoices in his physical healing, exults in God for saving him from certain death, and praises God "for His anger only last for a moment but His favor is for life."

Each of us has a story to tell and we bear the scars of life, some not so serious but others have run through the full gamut of human suffering so unbearable that they have been changed forever. It tugs at the heart yet the perseverance of the human spirit when tested beyond limits would often leave us breathless in silent wonder.

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness," declares David. Take heart. Our suffering is but transitory; this too shall pass. For even in death the body takes a respite and the redeemed spirit goes back to its Maker in glorious rhapsody. Trust the One who is all too familiar with human suffering - Christ Himself. He assures us:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).

 
Tuesday
Aug292017

Psalm 29 - "The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood" - Hope in the Midst of the Fury of Hurricane Harvey

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The catastrophic flooding in Texas and parts of Louisiana brought about by Category 4 Hurricane Harvey is a heart-breaking spectacle that once again demonstrates the formidable power of nature over humanity resulting in so much destruction, chaos, broken dreams and devastated lives.

Scenes of elderly people in a nursing home (photo above) trapped in waist-deep waters, dazed parents and children in rescue boats, submerged roads and cities, flooded homes and people in tears who lost everything move us deeply and touch the very core of our being. Storms, like any other natural calamities, are ones of the great equalizers of life. It affects all poor and affluent nations alike - from America to Zimbabwe.

How do we make sense of such a tragedy brought on by hurricane Harvey? Is there any hope left for those who lost virtually everything they worked for their entire lives? Psalm 29 offers a ray hope:

"The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty."

In the midst of the fiercest storm that we encounter in life, the voice that we need to hear the most amid other conflicting voices is a voice that brings order, reassurance, and hope - a voice powerful enough to calm the raging tempest within our soul. Hurricane Harvey brought so much destruction and displaced tens of thousands of people. But there is no storm powerful enough to silence the voice of the LORD. David knew this full well:

"The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever."

Hold on tightly upon God if you are experiencing a personal storm in your life today.  For the people of Texas and Louisiana our hearts go out to them and we offer our sincere thoughts and prayers. May Psalm 29 give all of us encouragement and hope  in the midst of our storms: "The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace" - peace, the shalom of God that provides completeness - restful well-being, is ours through a relational faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

 
Thursday
Aug172017

Martin Luther King Jr. Got It Right

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In the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy the clear, articulate voice of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., comes to mind where he echoed Romans 12:9-10:

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."

We can either choose to hate or embrace the way of love. A skilled lawyer once asked Jesus which one is the greatest of all the commandments. In essence Jesus unequivocally said, "Love God supremely and love others unconditionally."

These two are intrinsically related to each other. Without God's love it is difficult to love others consistently and purely; true love for others flows from the unconditional love of God borne out of a relationship with Him. This alone has the power to break the stronghold of hatred in someone's heart.

Martin Luther King Jr. got it right.
Thursday
Aug032017

Psalm 28 - The Silence of Heaven

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"Do not be silent to me, lest, if you are silent I become like those who go down to the pit," so says a dejected David who feels forsaken in his direst needs.

What are we to do when heaven becomes silent and we think we are left to fend for ourselves? A prayer that goes unanswered for a long time. Or a prayer that came with an answer but contrary to what we had desired.

There are no easy answers. At best, life's complexities often drive us to great lengths of searching and reflecting. At worst, they leave us perplexed and questioning the very existence of God, and like David we feel consigned to a state of abandonment like the rest of the unbelieving world with no hope.

God's silence or the perception of such silence serves a noble purpose. Among others, it builds in us character and deepens our submission to His loving authority in a way that has never been done before. Heaven will not always be silent. It is in the fire of our suffering that His presence is made real. When that which has been divinely purposed in us comes to fruition we are renewed and reinvigorated. Let's listen in to David after a long time of waiting:

"Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him."

Hang in there. His grace is more than sufficient. In this Psalm, David references Jesus as a Savior and a Shepherd who saves and nurtures His people (verses 8,9). This particular psalm has blessed my heart today and I'm sure it will warm your heart too as you meditate upon it.

 

 

 
Wednesday
Jul192017

An Engineering Wonder

 

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It is just fascinating to revisit the story of Noah and the great ark he built. Allow me to share a few thoughts.

The building of the ark all the way down to its minute details is an engineering wonder and one of the most audacious undertakings ever done by humans.

The intricate planning to build a "floating zoo," the logistical, manpower, and engineering challenges involved are way beyond our grasp.

And once the ark is completed, sanitation, health concerns, and daily food provision for over a year for the animals and humans aboard must have been carefully pre-planned.

To many of the people in Noah's day it is the craziest project ever conceived and flies in the face of reason and logic.

Yet day after day, week after week, month after month…as the years go by (60-70 years by some estimate) Noah acts on his faith and completes the ark in the midst of relentless mockeries and insults.

Twice the Genesis narrative describes Noah as one who “did according to all that the LORD commanded him” (Genesis 6:22, 7:5).

Noah’s faith is not a reckless kind of faith but one that is anchored on the Word of God. It is this kind of faith that earned him a place in God’s heroes of faith, “ By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

And by way of explicating the reality and importance of faith amidst an array of the great heroes of the faith, the writer to the book of Hebrews declared in no uncertain terms, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). EC.