The Quietness of Growth

BACK IN THE STONE AGES WHEN I WAS ABOUT SEVEN, we moved to Grandpa’s ranch way out in the country north of Cisco, Texas.  The little town we moved from near the Mexican border was noisy, but on the ranch it was real quiet. The cows were eating grass so about the only sounds they made were when they mooed. Grandpa didn’t have tractors. He had horses. They didn’t make noise either except snortin’ around. Chickens clucked and the pigs oinked, but for all practical purposes it was quiet all the time.

The wheat, corn and highgear, grass, trees and flowers didn’t make any noise as they grew. Things that grow don’t make noise, but in town there was alot of noise especially when they were tearing things down, or if Grandpa ran into something, or if the blacksmith was banging on iron.
I guess I learned that when things grow they don’t make noise, but when you tear things down or go running around here and there you make a lot of noise and bring a lot of attention to yourself.
It’s better to be in a growing mode than to tear things down. It’s better to lift people up than to tear them down!
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WHY PEOPLE HURT

I HAD MY PASTOR’S HAT ON.  [I was so young.]  TEARS OF CONFUSION POURED FROM HER EYES.  She was a relatively new Christian.  Her little son had just died and her husband was angry. He was mad at her, God and everyone!  In addition, they were in debt head over heels. With pleading eyes she said, “But I thought Jesus was supposed to help us.” I was thinking, “Is she thinking God caused this? Does she think God allowed this? Did I teach her this?”  Where is God when you need Him?  Maybe I should say, “Well, we live in an evil world.”  Both she and her husband would have thrown me out of the house … and he was a big guy.

I don’t think quoting Jesus would have helped, and leave it at that.  “‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”  (John 16:33 (niv))  And yet, he spoke truth.  Nevertheless, she had a sincere question. She wouldn’t have accepted a scriptural exegesis.  A saccharine sweet brushoff wouldn’t do from a 27 year old “preacher of sorts.”  She was in emotional and spiritual pain!

When someone has had a terrible auto accident, lying in the middle of the road, blood everywhere, a doctor would not give a classroom  lecture on trauma.  Sorry Charlie.  It’s not the right time or place. Furthermore, the pain would be too excruciating.  I’m trying to figure out why people hurt.

#1 –  The place to start is before the injury & pain; before the heartache, before the discouragement or disappointment, before the treason or lies, before the uncertainty or questions.  The relationship we have with Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit,  a voracious hunger for his Word, the Bible , our spiritual road map is our  protection and peace.

He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.” (John 10:14)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 (kjv))

“But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Romans 5:8-9 (kjv)

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (kjv)

#2 -The Rorschach test was designed to help the psychologist delve deep into our thinking finally diagnosing our mental state.  Other than our own destructive behavior, trying to diagnose how or why human beings suffer – usually blaming God – only creates more suffering through hate, anger and despondency.  When suffering through our heartaches, should we blame God or perhaps go to a street-side mind reader?  Trust me on this my friend, things will happen in our life for which there is no answer – none.  You can read books about why bad things happen to good people and it may bring a little comfort, somewhat like rubbing Lidocaine on a sore tooth, but when God works with us through our hurt, he goes to the heart of the matter.  Count on it, he does not cause human suffering, but in many cases he will pick up the pieces left along the way.  He welcomes us as we fall helplessly into his bosom.  Even Jesus who was God in the flesh had terrible feelings of hopelessness.  In his feelings of unrequited soul-hurt he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

#3 –  Over and over throughout the Bible the Lord challenges us by saying, “Do not be afraid.”  When the disciples were about to drown, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.”  When a celestial being appeared to the shepherds, it scared the living daylights out of them.  Think of it,  thousands of angels spread across the sky, singing.  I would be scared, too.  An angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.”  In the Book of Revelation 2:10, the indication is that Satan causes suffering.  It says,  “DO NOT BE AFRAID of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer for 10 days.  But be faithful, even if you have to die, and I will give you the crown of life.”

#4 – How about those three hanging on crosses?  Two of them were criminals.  The One on the center cross was God who took upon himself flesh and bone.  In his pain and suffering, one of the thieves railed at Jesus, mockingly said, “So, some people have said you are the Messiah! If you can’t save yourself, how are you going to save us?” I can’t find where Jesus shouted back condemnation to the bitter thief.  “But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’  Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’  And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
(Luke 23:39-43)

#5 – Sometimes the pain we feel is because we don’t know what to do. It’s as though there is no answer.  Hopeless. “What do I do now? Is there no one to help me?”
It’s interesting that Paul and Silas “were PRAYING and SINGING HYMNS to God [in jail], and … suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!”
(Acts of the Apostles 16:25-26)

#6 – Rather than dealing with the “Why” of suffering, the key is to deal with the solution. The solution is to PRAISE HIM!  Praising shows trust!

#7 – 🎼🎶
“Praise Him! praise Him!
Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory,
strength and honor give to His holy name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children;
in His arms He carries them all day long:
“Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness!
Praise Him! praise Him! ever in joyful song!”
(Fanny Crosby)

When Jesus Comes

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I WAS SUFFERING UNEXPLAINABLE PAIN AND DESOLATION. No one to turn to. No one seemed to care. Alone. Isolated. Catatonic. Annihilated. Eliminated from my safe place – the church.

Thoughts came to me:
• I thought God was supposed to help me!
• Why am I fearful?
• Did I deserve this?
• I was a pastor – I’m not supposed to hurt.
• It was as though I was locked away.

I looked in the mirror and my eyes were swollen from weeping. Many times I had quoted the words of Jesus quoted by Paul in II Corinthians 12:9:
“‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

When you are totally bereft of self esteem, hurt beyond the point when words could come out of your throat, gasping for air, thinking that you would be better off dead, God speaks!

🎼🎶 “One sat alone beside the highway begging,
His eyes were blind, the light he could not see.
He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows
Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee.

“When Jesus comes, the tempter’s power is broken;
When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away,
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.”
(Oswald J. Smith)

God Permits – Doesn’t Force

GOD MAY PERMIT HIS CHILD TO FALL DOWN AND SKIN HIS KNEE, BUT HE DOES NOT CAUSE THE ACCIDENT. So am I to believe that God is emotionally remote? Doesn’t care?  A thousand times NO!

A. We live in a fallen world – Satan is real and evil!

B. God designed us with a free will – we are not robots!

C. If God healed us, protected us from every sickness and pain, from evil in all circumstances, we would be spiritual invalids on earth. The Apostle wrote:
“There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.”

Hebrews 5:11-12
Do you remember that lady Jesus healed? It wasn’t God who caused her sickness.  She was “held by Satan for eighteen years.”

Luke 13:16
And Paul acknowledges,  “… a painful physical problem was given to me. This problem was a messenger from Satan, sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud.”

2 Corinthians 12:7
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Hebrews 4:15-16   🎼🎶
“There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one!
No, not one!
None else could heal all our soul’s diseases,
No, not one!
No, not one!
“Jesus knows all about our struggles;
He will guide till the day is done.
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one!
No, not one!”
(Johnson Oatman, Jr.)

GOD DIDN’T CAUSE YOUR PAIN, BUT ARE YOU GOING TO GET BITTER, OR BETTER?