Tag Archives: Suffering

When I Grow Up……

When I grow up…..

But wait, I am grown up? How can I grow up?

Been there done that a LONG time ago.

Or did I grow old but not grow up?

Is growing up signified by the age on your driver’s license?

Or by how achy you are when you work in the yard for an hour?

Is growing up signified by the question to answer ratio? Haven’t heard of that? My dad told the story about how, when he was a young boy, he would love working in the garage with his Dad. But there was one problem, he talked all of the time and was constantly asking questions about what they were doing. Finally, my Grandpa, who had the patience of Job, turned to my Dad and said, “HOWARD! WHY ARE YOU TALKING ALL OF THE TIME?”

Dead silence as my Dad was thinking, “Uh, oh, I’ve screwed it up. What do I do now? I’ve gotten my Dad, the guy who never gets mad mad and now he’s mad at me. What do I do?”

“Well, I guess I better tell him the truth.” (Smart answer for a 4th grader who eventually becomes a preacher.) So, he looks at his Dad, my grandpa, and says, “Because I got questions!”

Pause……

Nothing gets said (quite a feat for these two – if you ask me). Wait! You don’t have to ask me because I just told you. Why do people use that phrase?

I had an English Professor, a few years ago, who felt it was very important for writers to conserve words. Don’t say something in your writing unless it adds to the whole picture of what you are saying.

Back to the story. “Well, if you’ve got questions, then I think we better answer them. But I have a question first……. Can you work really hard on your speed and your volume? Because sometimes you talk so fast and so loud it makes my head hurt. “

“I will try…..”

The story moves on and we find ourselves looking over this place in front of the Capitol Building.

The history on those steps and inside that building. It can take your breath away. From Abraham Lincoln to Joe Biden, from Dad Bush to Son Bush, so many people made a difference in the world from these steps.

On January 6, many people made a difference on the Capital steps, and it was not a good thing and it did not help us grow up.

On January 6, many adults behaved like children on the Capital steps and it was not something to make Americans proud.

On January 20, a 22 yr. old writer stood on the Capital steps and showed America and the World that there still is good in America.

And a collective sigh of relief was heard through out our country.

Amanda Gorman, age 22, wrote what was on her heart and a country and a world listened.

May we all continue to do so……

TV

Amanda Gorman on James Corden’s show

It’s okay….

What’s okay? The news?

Nope

The crime figures?

Nope

The fact checker results when politicians give speeches?

Nope

The most recent Covid statistics and the grief and pain that they represent?

Not a chance

The anxiety ridden discussions that take place on places like Facebook as parents wrestle with big questions about this school year. At home? Online? What about work? My career? My high school and college aged kids – what will this do to their plans?

Last week I had a relative whose job changed drastically, a friend who had to go back to college to bring her daughter home – because she’ll be doing college from the basement rather than at college. Oh, and two families who decided that they were going to home school this coming year rather than send their kids to the local private school. That reduced the number of students at the school by 4.

One of the difficult things about churches, private schools, orphanages, missions is that often you are forced to make business-like decisions in the middle of a charity run organization – and often in very desperate times. So, that school I mentioned above, they removed 4 kids from the local private school – I don’t know, but I would be surprised if that didn’t cost the school $25,000 or more this year. How do they make that up?

And this week, one of the major political parties held their “virtual” convention. I know it’s necessary to finalize the candidate the delegates are supporting, but let’s be real…..

If you watched the speeches and listened to the talking heads analyzing it all 6 ways from everywhere, how much of it can you really believe it is true? I’m working on a very personal piece about that which I promise will be out before the election. It is hard to write because basically, I’m…….. (sorry, not going to give you a sneak peek.)

I’ve had conversations with some of you about the whole concept of righteous anger. If something truly crosses that “line in the sand” for you, then it is okay to be mad about it. It’s okay to be angry that _______ is happening. It’s okay to be upset that the President said _________. It’s okay to be angry at what those who are not following Covid guidelines are doing to the health of so many and frankly the health of our nation.

It’s okay to be angry.

It’s okay to be angry at God because He didn’t give you what you wanted.

It’s okay to be angry at politicians who you feel betrayed their word.

It’s okay to be angry about children who are caught in immigration struggles that POWs shouldn’t even have to face.

Get angry. But then don’t stop there. Don’t just walk around being angry.

It reminds me of the song by the Christian Music Artist, “Mike’s Chair.” It goes something like this:

“Then I shook my fist at heaven and I hollered, ‘God, why don’t you do something?”

And then God said, “I did……I CREATED YOU!!!!!”

We’re going to be talking a lot more about the “do something” part of it, for a number of reasons, but for now, just think about this thought…..

The world is messed up.

God’s okay with us being mad about it.

But he wants us to not be satisfied with being angry but to do something about it.

More to come,

Tom

A Voice

I just heard it said on TV (so you know its true) that these last 70 days – with the pandemic, multiple high profile black murders…… These last 70 days make one of the most turbulent times we’ve been through since the Civil War.

The Civil War – think about it. That’s like 165 years ago.

We’ve seen riots breaking out all over.

I turned on Jimmy Fallon (Tonight Show) and he went through his entire show sharing his feelings on learning that he as a white man was making the world a more difficult place for those who aren’t white.

There have been a lot of people talking about whether rioting was appropriate and whether going to another town to protest was appropriate.

I’m going to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from “Letters from the Birmingham Jail.” This wont be the last time that I’ll be talking about what Dr. King says. For now……

“The riot is the voice of the unhearded.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Letters from a Burlington Jail) is saying that what you need to do is look at people who make their voice heard in a protest, well the majority of them at least, are rioting because they feel that is the only way they will be heard.

So, when you see a news report about a riot, look at it from the standpoint of the protestors doing that so they can have a voice.

It changes your perspective.

TJV

The Circles We Move In…….

Some of them are big.

Some of them are small.

Some of them are very enjoyable circles.    Circles of friendship, circles of good times and joy filled experiences.

Some of them are filled with family.

Some of them are very lonely.

Some of them raise more questions than answers.

Some of them involve 17 year olds having lung surgery and 8 year olds being hit by cars and killed.   Some of them involve people in your circle saying, “I can’t handle the pain any more” and attempting to make it stop.

Some of them involve times of doubt and anger.  

Some of them involve Boko Haram and ISIS.    Some of them involve military families who have paid the ultimate price defending against those evils.

Some of them involve people literally starving to death.    And children being abused – many times by someone they know and used to trust.   And Christians being beheaded on camera for their faith.

Some of them involve systems and institutions that are supposed to be helping that are actually making things worse – like the church, like orphanages, like adoption agencies, like short term missionaries, like the foster care system.

Some of them involve unspeakable acts of genocide, mutilation, bloodshed and  torture.    And it’s not “over there” because today’s communications bring it “right here” and inside our circle.

How do we justify the evil, horrible and tortuous things that happen in our circles?   Especially, how do we balance those with what it says in Romans 8:28 –

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Doesn’t that mean life is supposed to be rainbows and unicorns once we believe in God?

Far from it – John Pavlovitz says it better than I could – “http://johnpavlovitz.com/2015/05/29/why-everything-does-not-happen-for-a-reason/

“In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into……”

“This isn’t a Heavenly insurance policy paid with faith and exempting us from anything unpleasant, but the promise that if we choose to respond to all things from a place of love and goodness; that we, not necessarily our circumstances will be better for it…….”

“No I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe there is meaning in how we respond to all things that happen to us, even when they are not at all good things.”

John doesn’t have any easy answers for why, why this life isn’t a piece of cake.   But he makes a couple of very solid points:

  • We but not necessarily our circumstances will be better for it – if we respond the way God calls us to.
  • Learning and choosing to follow God and what that means and how you do it often brings the good out of the terrible and the difficult.

Why do some people seem to get to eat a nice piece of chocolate cake while others only get flour and salt?

I don’t know.

Why doesn’t God give everyone a nice of their very favorite type of cake for their “lot in life?”

I don’t know.

But I know this…….

God, through Paul, says more later on in Chapter 8:

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are conquerors.   That means we aren’t just sitting around eating cake, we’re in a battle.   None of the things in vs. 38 and vs. 39 will win and will separate us from the love of God.  

Why these things happen, that’s a mystery that we won’t be able to solve here on earth.   But the end result is our good – because if we believe in Jesus, then we will obtain the ultimate good – life with him.

Until the mystery is revealed, if it is, we wait, we suffer and struggle and we cling to the hope and the knowledge that God will not let go of us. 

No matter whether our cake is good or bitter or half baked.

TJV

More on the subject:

From my friend Shelley in Haiti – “”A woman stood outside my gate for the past week with a new infant and a toddler in tow. Day after day she waited and day after day I told her we didn’t have work. We don’t have work. Not enough work. Today she followed me for four blocks. It annoyed me. Can’t I just walk down the street without being harassed? After my appointment four blocks away, I went to leave. She was there- baby in arms, waiting. Hopeful. No work I said! Stop following me! She paused a second and then she just broke down and wept. She wept. She sobbed. Lord have mercy, I thought. I need to sell some more jewelry.” ~ Shelley Clay”