“You’re a Christian. Shouldn’t you always be happy and chirpy?”
“Why do you have problems when you’ve made Jesus Christ your Lord?”
One of the best answers to questions like these comes from theologian John Piper:
“What the world needs from the Church (Christians) is our indomitable, invincible joy in the midst of suffering and sorrow.”
Not joy alone, for that would be unreal. Not problems alone, for people have enough troubles of their own.
Instead, a combination—a strong core of peace and joy even when surrounded by adverse or undesirable external circumstances.
A Paradox? Actually, no.
Who can deny that in this world, there exists “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration,” as Jesus forewarned His disciples. What makes them all bearable—week after week for some, year after year for others—is the promise that in the midst of storms and upheavals, a peace “which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” An unshakeable faith that this latest challenge too can be overcome and that “joy comes in the morning” as there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve tested this over and over again, and from personal experience, I declare that it is true. Life has a way of throwing up unwanted shocks and nasty surprises, and I’ve had a substantial amount of those. When bad things happen, negative emotions try to run riot, but focusing on my ever present source of Hope & Help enables me to keep fear, worry and stress at bay. If they manage to gain a foothold, turning my gaze upwards to God empowers me to shake them off so that they can’t take root.
After winning my recent battle with death, through the saving hand of my Lord, I’m determined to make my days count fully. I like the following extract from Fulfilling Destiny by Peter Horrobin. He’s the founder of Ellel Ministries International (www.ellelministries.org)
“Destiny people are people who will keep on moving forward even when there is opposition. They’re aware of the attacks of the enemy but they keep on doing what God’s given them to do. ~ Continue to press on to walk in that which God has made us for. And it is in the doing of that, that we know the joy of the Lord, which will then be our strengthening and our empowering.”
I appear to have adverse reactions to the anticoagulant Warfarin, which thins my blood to prevent further clots from forming, even as my body naturally breaks down existing clots in my legs and lungs. Persistent fatigue plagued me when I first returned to work, and when it finally lifted just over a week ago, I guess I unwisely plunged into more activity than I should have, for my haematologist noted that I looked tired when I last saw her. “Slow down! Don’t rush!” is the refrain that I’m learning to sing for now.
The International Normalised Ratio or INR measures the clotting tendency of blood. It’s typically close to 1 for most people. For those on anticoagulants like me, the target range is often 2-3, which means if we get a cut, our blood will take longer to clot and the bleeding will be more profuse than for the average person. During recent fortnightly checks, my INR was 4.4 and 3.8—eliciting warnings from the nurses to be extra careful and to head straight to A&E in the event of excessive blood loss or extensive bruising. Someone mentioned that my daily dosage of 6mg is high for an Asian woman, but when it was reduced slightly for a fortnight in March, my INR fell below the desired range, which meant an increased risk of developing a blood clot.
My doctor is arranging to have my implanted IVC filter removed in mid-June. Without that as a gatekeeper to prevent any future clots from travelling upwards, the projection is that I’ll need to take Warfarin for one to two years. I don’t want that, for I’m already experiencing mild hair loss—Alopecia—after just three months on this drug. Long strands falling onto my palm after a shampoo isn’t an enjoyable sensation. Another possible cause of hair loss and tiredness is the Lucrin Depot hormone jab that I was given during my hospitalisation. I’m praying that I can soon be restored to a medicine-free self, and I’m really thankful to everyone who’s continuing to pray for me. I appreciate you and bless you. 🙂
Faith in Jesus—Delusional or Actuality?
A colleague of mine thinks that fervent Christians are likely to be those who don’t quite have it all together; people who need a crutch because they are plagued by problems. Another cannot reconcile the suffering of the poor and oppressed with the concept of a loving God.
I may not be able to answer every query posed by sceptics or sincere seekers of the truth. But the Bible, which I believe is God’s inspired Word, urges each of us to “taste and see that the LORD is good.” I did, and everything that I testify to concerning my God is based on my actual experiences and encounters with Him. He is real to me, for I have tasted, and I proclaim that He is good.
Here’s my simple analogy. Imagine a luscious looking apple touted as the tastiest in the world. As long as I only gaze at it, I will not have the confidence to recommend it to others. But if I’ve bitten into it and its flavour and crunchiness prove to be extraordinarily good, I would not just promote it; I’d buy a good number of that particular variety to share with those I care about. And if doubters were to insist or try to persuade me that it isn’t worth my money, I’d stand firm on my belief anchored in experiential evidence.
Author and theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence, that is the miracle we are really after.” Brennan Manning penned in The Ragamuffin Gospel, “A living, loving God can and does make His presence felt, can and does speak to us in the silence of our hearts.”
Does God Care About Our Happiness?
This answer by Ravi Zacharias who has spoken at top universities across the globe.
“When I love you and you refuse to love me, I hurt because I have lost something.
When God loves you and your refuse to love God, God hurts too. God hurts because you have lost something. He is concerned. That’s why He sent His Son to die on the Cross.”
J.R. Miller wrote In Time of Loneliness and here’s an extract:
“In a certain sense—all of life is lonely. Even with sympathetic companions all about us, there is an inner life which each one of us lives altogether alone. ~ Friendship may be very close and tender—but there is a sanctuary of each life—into which even the holiest friendship may not enter. Blessed are they who in this aloneness can say, “Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me! God’s is the only friendship that can really meet all our soul’s deep needs and cravings. Human companionship helps us at a few points; but the divine friendship has its blessing for every experience. We never shall be left alone, when we have Christ. ~When other faces fade out of view—His will shine out with gentle love, pouring its light upon us.”
When death beckoned, it was down to God and me. No family member, no friend, no pastor present. It’s a scenario that I’ll face again when my sojourn on earth reaches an end. How will I account to my Creator for the days given to me?
One of my favourite authors, Max Lucado, expresses it beautifully, “After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot rule the eternal. ~ Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—to these I commit my day. If I succeed, I’ll give thanks. If I fail, I’ll seek His grace. ” (http://maxlucado.com/read/excerpts/when-god-whispers-your-name/)
Your Love Never Fails (2 Versions)
Lyrics/Music: Chris McClarney
I know I still make mistakes but You have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails. You stay the same through the ages. Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me. Your love never fails
One Thing Remains (2 Versions)
Lyrics/Music: Brian Johnson, Christa Black, Jeremy Riddle
Higher than the mountains that I face. Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change. One thing remains
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me
In death and in life I’m confident and covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love