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Monday, April 14, 2014

Connecting at the Cross

Our crosses connect us.

The things that break us bring us together.

In our humanness, we do all we can to avoid pain and suffering.  We forget that suffering is what connects us to the body of Christ.  As Richard Rohr says, "The suffering that we carry is our solidarity with the one, universal longing of all humanity, and thus it can teach us great compassion for and patience with both ourselves and others (see Colossians 1:24)."

In suffering and pain we come face to face with our powerlessness.  Even though we are powerless over certain circumstances, we still have a choice.

We have the choice to fight and rail against the pain, thus intensifying it, or to accept the suffering knowing that ultimately it will lead to resurrection and new life.

Being forced to confront our control and self-will is one of the most difficult challenges we ever have to face.

 Trusting that God is faithful and causes all things to work together  for good (Romans 8:28) seems impossible in the midst of tragedy and death.  Just as Jesus cried out on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46), we feel alone and forsaken in our suffering and pain.  But because of Jesus' sacrifice for us, we will never be forsaken no matter how we feel.  The power of the Holy Spirit which raised Jesus from the grave is also at work in us to bring new life to our shattered dreams and lives.

In God's kingdom, the way down is the way up.

All who exalt themselves will be humbled.  Matthew 23:12

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.  Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.  John 12:24-26

So the way to follow the Suffering Servant is by being willing to suffer ourselves.

It will not be easy.

We will be tempted to lose heart.

We must cling to Paul's words:
Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1

Ultimately our body mind, heart and soul will receive complete healing from our true healer - Jesus Christ.

Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hope for Healing Our Wounds

 We live in a world that wounds.

Our wounds occur in countless ways.
These wounds might come from stinging words or harsh judgments, deception or betrayal, accusation or abandonment, loss or failure . . .

Whatever the different causes, we have all been wounded at some point in one way or another.

Our difficult but worthy challenge is to move past our wounds and into wholeness and peace.

 One of God's names is Jehovah Shalom.  Although we usually think of shalom as peace, the Hebrew meaning was much broader.  It essentially meant  to be whole or complete and living in abundance and freedom.

This demanding challenge may take a lifetime as we go through the peaks and valleys of our journey.

But during this journey, God can use our wounds to allow us to share in the sufferings of the world and bring hope to those He places in our lives.

God calls us to
     encourage one another and build each other up.  
       1 Thessalonians 5:11

He asks us to share in His suffering.  Paul encourages us with his own powerful example:

 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his 
sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

If we are willing, God gives us the courage to confront and conquer the dead places in our lives  caused by our wounds.  Beyond our suffering we are given the promise of new life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ.
 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

This process is neither easy nor quick but it is possible with the unfailing mercy of God in Christ to guide and sustain us.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God,
Colossians 3:1-3

Peace and blessings to you as you journey toward hope and healing.