Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How To Reconcile Two Antithetical Truths

This past Sunday we heard the beloved Gospel passage in which JESUS invites those who are weary and heavily burdened to come to Him and find rest and promises that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light”.  OK.  We are all weary and burdened and we all come to the LORD in prayer.  God does not lie.  His Word is true.  So I try to believe in His Word and hope in His promises.
But we have two antithetical truths.  On one hand, there are many Christians who have faith, who pray and serve the LORD and the duties of our station in life faithfully--or at least try our best to do so--who are in conversation with the LORD throughout the day, and who are always coming to Him, asking Him for help and thanking Him for favors, but who have various kinds of suffering, some of which in human terms reaches the point of being unbearable.  I believe that the saying “God never gives you more than you can handle” is false.  God FREQUENTLY gives us more than we can handle--at least in our own strength--but then He gives us the grace and strength to endure and to function.  On the other hand we have God’s Word, which by definition is true because God in His nature can never lie, that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light”. 
My question--and I imagine the question somehow in the minds and hearts of many Christians, since we all experience suffering and burdens in our own way and I imagine that many are struggling--is how can we get from the experience of intense suffering and carrying the heavy burden that the LORD has permitted or even called us to carry to experiencing that His yoke is easy and His burden is light?  We are coming to Him and asking for healing, for relief, for strength.  I guess the fact that we receive the necessary graces to endure one day at a time and hold on to our faith even when we are experiencing suffering, struggle and doubt counts for something.  But it is hard to accept that this should somehow be enough.  With all due respect, although I know that the LORD endured suffering beyond all human suffering in His Passion and death on the Cross, it seems that in some cases it is hard not to feel that JESUS is not carrying His share of the load and that the yoke and burden are far from easy and light.  Perhaps it is a difference in perspective--I guess any yoke and burden would seem light in comparison to the Cross.  But I would think that since the LORD promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, there should be something that either we or He or both should be doing so that our experience would better approximate what He promises in His Word.  Perhaps there is a way that we need to learn to do this in His strength and access that strength instead of relying on our own? How do we lean on Him?
How do we reconcile the truth of God’s Word with the reality of our experience?  I can deny neither.  Both are true but both seem contradictory.  There must be some way that we can do or say or think something so that our experience can line up with God’s Promise, and that is what I desire to do.  I am grateful for the “one day at a time” survival in life, faith, and some ability to function (Mom is still a trooper and still doing her best to function and she prays all the time) but I think in order to get to “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” we need to be able to receive more than we’re currently getting and we don’t know how to get there.  I’m not looking for the so-called “health and prosperity” false gospel by any means, and realize that there are no easy answers or magic formulas, even though I wish there were. I just want to reap the benefits of what the LORD has actually promised. I guess that’s part of the “mystery of suffering”, but I would like life to be a lot better for Mom and for many people whose experience of suffering is a lot harder and heavier than the LORD’s promise in His Word seems to indicate.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day - July 4, 2014 - Let's Recapture & Recommit to the Vision

Today we celebrate one of the momentous events in the history of our nation--its beginnings--and the history of the world. Representatives of 13 original colonies united and dedicated their lives, their fortune, and their sacred honor to begin a nation dedicated to and founded on the proposition that all people (the term "men" was the generic use of the word) are created equal and are endowed by ...our Creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--in that order. 
America has never been perfect--we have been guilty of the grave sins of severe injustice and mistreatment of Native Americans and African American slaves, and we have many sins in our history, including the grave sin of abortion in our present time. But for the most part America has been a nation that has sought God, has sought to do what is right, that has provided opportunity and freedom for people in our country and throughout the world, we have fought for freedom and against tyranny and injustice, and we have generously fed the hungry and sought to welcome strangers and been a land of opportunity where even people of little means can work hard and work out our hopes, dreams, and visions, even if we have to start small, and achieve some measure of fulfillment and contribution to the common good. 
America is not perfect and we must repent of our national sins of greed, arrogance, materialism, sexual immorality, abortion, and attempts to forget the God Who provided the dream and the provision to keep us alive and make our country great and prosperous enough to be able to share with
so many people throughout the world. 
Let us repent of our sins, let us turn to the God Who has protected and provided for us and made us a great nation, because without Him we never could and never will be able to do anything. Let us recommit ourselves to the vision of our founding fathers and mothers and our founding principles based on the Judaeo-Christian ethic. Let us commit ourselves to electing leaders who hold to these principles and this vision and who humbly and gratefully look to God as our Source of blessing and vision. Let us hold fast to the exceptionalism of the vision of liberty, justice and opportunity for all, repent of the ways we fall short and realize that this exceptionalism should not be a matter of boasting, pride or arrogance but of a higher vision rooted in God.