Have you ever experienced this?  Have you ever considered that when you are just about to really throw in the towel and give up, that is when something happens to lift you up?

I have read this somewhere, when I was a lot younger, that the night is at its darkest when dawn is about to break forth…

I remember waking up my boothmate (Booth 1010!) Aaron Bennis at 3 am, during my senior year, just to show him a phenomenon I had never seen before.  I woke up at 3 am (we were located in the Piney Woods of Texas!) and saw a very clear delineated line of darkness and light.  It was the one of the most spectaculars things I have ever seen. It was as if the heavens were a blank slate of black and white.  The edge of  the blackness  – was really at its darkest… or maybe it could have been inherent, or the juxtaposition of darkness and light highlighted the dramatic contrast of each.

It is similar to what we experience from time to time.

A parallel to this is when “God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.”

When we have just given up.  When we have thrown in the towel. When we don’t want to fight anymore and just surrender everything to Him (shredded threads and all…) and suddenly, His mercy is made manifest in our lives.  The mercy and grace is made “perfect” because there is nothing left to distract us.  In our utmost dependence on Him, God’s strength becomes perfect for us.

Recall the experience of Mary crying at the sight of the opened tomb and with just the graveyard clothes left by Jesus.  Consider Mary Magdalene, just waiting for the angry stones thrown at her – just waiting for them to hit her shame-racked body.  Consider the disciples who rowed for about 8 hours through the night, tired, discouraged maybe wondering what was going to happen next – and only to be deathly afraid at the sight of Jesus walking on water.  Consider the widow and her son who prayed as they cooked their last meal and knew that there won’t be any meals afterwards and how they readied themselves to die of hunger…

When you look at the scriptural evidences… it seemed that the night is at its darkest, just when the light is about to break through.

I must admit that I do not want to sound pollyanna-ish about the whole thing. The last thing I would want is to minimize what you are going through. Some of you may have lost your homes due to the recession.  Thousands have lost their jobs and have wiped out their savings and other bank accounts.  I know of a father who lost his precious 2-year old son on Christmas day.  We hear of thousands of OFWs who are facing potential job loss because the world’s economy is running to the ground.

It is very dark right now.

But I submit to you – light is about to break forth.

Never lose hope even if your heart is tired of hoping.

Never stop praying even if every part of your body would like to deny the existence of the ONE who can make all things possible.

And in the words of a well-loved statesman… “Never, never, never quit…”

This is not a hope that is based on the theology of tomorrow – or the incantations of the superstitions.

This hope is firmly grounded on WHO Christ is.

Securely fastened in His unconditional love not just for some, not just for the righteous – but for all of us.

So stop fighting my friend.

Jim Elliot, one of the 5 missionaries killed in the jungles of South America as they tried to evangelize the Auca Indians wrote: ” I open my hands to give what I cannot keep, to gain what I may never lose…”

Open your hands to give all the pain and sorrow that you cannot keep.

Open wide your hands to receive mercy and grace that you in Christ will never lose…”

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Image cover THE SHACK

Image cover THE SHACK

A couple of days ago, a friend posted on his multiply site that he received a copy of that Christian novel The Shack.

The rest of the article has been moved to this link.  Please click on the link to read the full article.

http://www.compassionateconsiderations.com/?p=194

Thank you.

Lately, I have been mulling about the things that I have noticed to be slipping fast through our fingers. And while the reality of these precious things are slipping away, I could not for the life of me, figure out how and where it started and how it could be alleviated.

While having lunch recently with some friends, we started sharing about what has been happening these days. One of our friends said that he noticed that people seem more “hardened these days.” I could very well understand what he meant. What he said resonated with some of the things that I have been weighing on my mind. There was no dissonance in what I had experienced as well even with some of the people in the church.

Well, here they are:

1. RESPECT – this is a dying characteristic. The death of which I have realized, has become endemic in our materialistic, self-focused, self-centered, i want it now-generation. What used to be a trait that can be seen elsewhere has become akin to the melting of the glaciers due to the climate change. It seems that we have insisted on our rights for too long that we have now believed it to be so. To the point that NOT showing respect to people in general has become our basic right. The sadness brought about by this reality can be seen in how children treat and answer their parents, how siblings relate with one another, how husbands and wives would not respect each other, how young people would show rudeness in their manner of speech toward people older than they are….

2. COMPASSION

You would be hard-pressed to find this in our society that has grown to be critical and suspicious of people’s motives. We could hardly blame them – but NOT showing compassion is a grave error in itself. Observe this: when someone is sharing a problem ( no matter how small ) – the general response of the hearer right away is to simply offer a solution without properly assessing if the person was really looking or asking for a solution. Chances are, when people share their problems, the first thing they are looking for is someone who is willing to listen. It seems that we are seeing a lot of people are too -stressed out now that we could easily see compassion-fatigue from everyone.

Take this case for example: You were driving the car and someone rear-ended you. It was not bad in the sense that you did not lose your life, but it was enough to exact some damage in your car that would cost some money and take a lot of your time, etc. You were feeling down and told a friend that something happened to you on the way

“What happened?” – he asks.

“I got rear-ended… .. ” – as you try to tell some more details, your friend asks…

“Well – how much was the damage to your car?”!! The friend was more interested in assessing the damage to the car. And depending on the damage, it would perhaps determine the level of compassion that would be shown toward you. The “how are you? Are you okay?” was never asked anymore….you have been assumed to be okay since you could walk and you are very much alive.

Respect and compassion. Let us make the decision not to let it slip through our generation. Contrary to what society about respect being earned, respect can also be shown even to the people we deem are not worthy of our respect. Let us be compassionate to people who may be going through some of the things that may seem irrelevant or insignificant to us ( perhaps maybe losing their files due to an infected computer).

The depth of how a person feels over a certain loss is not in the intrinsic value or objective value of the object lost, but in the ascribed value of that object in relation to the person who lost it. In other words, we do not measure the pain of other people according to our scale of pain assessment, but through theirs.