Sweet, so would I,
Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow
I think I can go on record as saying this has been one of the more difficult years I can remember having. And more specifically, it is one of the more difficult months I can remember having. A few years ago I experienced what I considered the worst month of my life. I had to say good bye to one of my favorite aunts, a long time friend in the church, and my father’s best friend had a near fatal accident at work. All of this right around Christmas. It was supposed to be the 1st Christmas I spent at home with my parents in a decade. It was really hard on me and the kids. But, this year has trumped the sorrow I have felt that year.
For those following this blog for some time know about my own loss. It has easily been one of the more difficult things I have had to deal with. I know that people have miscarriages all the time, but that doesn’t lessen the blow this had on me personally. At the same time I learned that one of my best friends was having complications in her own pregnancy. The doctors weren’t even certain that her little girl would survive birth. God surprised them all. She was beautiful in every way. And every time I saw her picture I was reminded of the wonderful grace and love of God. Over the last two weeks I have needed that reminder of God’s grace and love. My aunt passed away. Her funeral was this past Monday which is why you never saw a post from me last week. A young man here in town tragically passed away. His funeral was Friday. On Saturday morning, I learned that my friend’s daughter went home. Her struggles in this world are over. And on Sunday morning, a family in our congregation lost a beloved sister (and aunt).
I know and I get that death is a part of our world. I know that I cannot blame God for what man brought into this world when he sinned (Rom. 5:12). I know that God loves us more than I could possible know (John 3:16). And I know that God understands the pains of having a child die. But, often times I look at weeks like this and think why? Why does this have to happen? We things get this bad I start to feel like I am coming apart at the seams. Why does saying goodbye have to be so hard?
This past month I experienced when of the most difficult months physically I have ever had. I have chronic ear problems. In fact, I would argue that there isn’t a month that doesn’t go by that my ears don’t cause me some form of discomfort. Most of these days I can pass it off as mild discomfort. But, this past month, I have had one of the longest ear aches I have ever had. I have taken two rounds of antibiotics only to find that I still did not feel better. To make matters worse, my eardrum ruptured twice. While my hearing hasn’t been great for years, I no longer can hear out of that ear. (I have been assured that it will heal and I will hear again. However, I have spent the better part of a month now dealing with the fact that I cannot hear much of anything. I have to be careful what side people are standing when they are talking to me. And it is with regularity I am having to ask people to repeat themselves because I simply cannot hear. This got me to thinking about how hard it really is upon those that have no hearing at all. If and when I get my hearing back I plan on using it a little more. I will listen a little more to music. I will listen more to the sound of my children laughing. I will listen more to my wife. I will listen more to the needs of the church. I will not waste my hearing upon hearing nothing.
Wasting what we have been given seems to be an American past time. We waste the food we have been given. As nation we throw away more food than some have to eat. We waste time watching TV when we could be out spreading the gospel, talking with friends, or getting involved in our children’s lives. We waste our money on frivolous things like iphones, bigger TVs and the latest gadgets when some nations are in such poverty the people have no doctors to even go to, let alone to sit around and complain about whether or not we have national healthcare or not. We poor millions of gallons of water upon our lawns every year to keep them green when some don’t have clean water to drink. We are a nation of wasters.
In Matt. 25:14-30 Jesus spoke a parable about talents (a talent was about an equivalent to 6000-10,000 days wages depending upon whose conversion charts you are using). A man was going away and he gave each of his servants some talents. One of his servants, whom he gave just one talent to, rather than doing something with it, went out and buried it. He wasted his opportunity to do something amazing. As a result, what he had was stripped from him and he was cast into the outer darkness.
I don’t know what your gifts are. I don’t know what your talents are, but I do know that we all are given time and that is a precious commodity. Don’t waste it. There will come a time when you must stand before God and give an account for how you used your gifts. Will he be pleased with you, or will he find you making excuses?
It seems like every time we turn around there is another reason to feel like our world is headed in the wrong direction. I was just talking to a brother in Christ about this on Saturday night. I honestly cannot recall the last time I saw the local news, let alone the national news, run a feel good story. It seems like every news report is about a house fire, a store or bank being robbed, a person beating their significant other or as we seem to see every month, a new mass shooting where children are the ones being gunned down. It breaks my heart. And worse yet, it robs me of my hope. Our political climate doesn’t help me much either. I live here in Iowa so we naturally are getting the blunt of the politics right now. I don’t really care if you are Republican or Democrat, all I really see is people primed to disappoint. I hear lie after lie being told. I here empty promises being made. It honestly feels like each person is either trying to make the most outlandish claim to get the most radical members of their party to vote for them, or they are doing their best to make their opponents look as incompetent as humanly possible. I highly doubt these people really are the answer to our nation’s woes. (After all, the last person to run on the idea of change and unity has done more to fracture this nation than his predecessor).
The name of my blog, Finding Hope in the Word, was initially chosen because we love in a world that seems to be devoid of hope. I chose this title because I really believed if I was going to find any hope in my life it would not be found in some presidential candidate. It would not be found in my favorite sports team (especially when they currently sit 1-3). It would not be found in the economy. It had to be found in the word. And yesterday afternoon, as I sat listening to the preaching of Rick Lanning who is here doing a special series of lessons on the Beatitudes he said something that really struck home with me. The lesson was on the third Beatitude. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5).” Lanning was describing what it meant to inherit the earth. While I am certain to note quote him correctly, he said something to the effect of “inheriting the earth is about receiving the best of both worlds.” That is, the meek shall find themselves a home in heaven, and they will find themselves happy in this world as well. It is not that God will cause us to experience wealth and riches (sadly that is what the idea of inheriting the earth has been twisted into—a modern idea of the phrase). All that I need to be truly happy can be mine. This does not mean I am free to purse wickedness and God will clean up my mess. This does not mean that God will bless my efforts to get rich and powerful. This means that if trust in God. If I let him lead my life (for that is what a meek person will do) then I can expect to feel fulfillment. I can expect that God will make me lay down in the green pastures and lead me beside the quiet waters (Psa. 23:2). I can expect that even though I may walk through the valley of the great mountain of death I won’t have anything to fear (Psa. 23:4). I can find comfort, which is all I need to find contentment, happiness, and everlasting joy, knowing that God hasn’t abandoned me. He is carrying me through, he is guiding me and that is more than okay.
I guess what I am trying to say, it’s okay if it looks like the sky is falling. My hope isn’t built upon such men. My hope is in the word. And if I trust, I let it guide me. I will never be disappointed.