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Tag Archives: anguish

Finding Treasures in Darkness

In the midst of a storm, darkness prevents most individuals from seeing any meaning or purpose in trials.  Instead of reflection, anguish, bitterness and resentment are common responses.  Yet, in my most recent period a pleasant surprise arrived in the form of a special friendship.  After both losing our jobs a month apart, God allowed each of us console one another, finding a treasure in darkness.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name, Isaiah 45:3.

In the famous poem simply known as Footprints, the author writes about periods in life where God carries you.  Walking along a beach, the Lord’s footprints disappear as each waves comes crashing into shore.  Yet, somehow, someway, most survive to see another day, hoping darkness will fade.  Job learned this the hard way as he friends began to question his faith, suggesting God was punishing him for something he had done in the past.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold, Job 23:10.

As you walk through moments of darkness alone, people tend to choose temporary distractions to numb the pain inside their heart.  Nonetheless, the weaker you get, the easier it becomes to trust in an invisible God.  When there is no one else to lean on, faith is refined, smelting the impurities.  However, if you hang on long enough like Job, you will experience God’s divine providence in the form of treasures in darkness.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Monday Morning Atheist

An atheist is defined as anyone who lacks belief or denies the existence of a God or gods.  Unfortunately, as another weekend flies by the anguish of starting a new week of work weighs heavy on restless souls.  Thus, when the average American awakes on Monday morning, not many people feel close to or seek God to find the strength to carry on.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

In his book entitled Monday Morning Atheist, Doug Spada encourages readers to switch God on as Monday morning arrives.  When Christianity becomes a religion, the emphasis is placed on Saturday or Sunday as the day of worship.  Thus, God can be limited to your churches doors if you embrace this mindset.  Faith is designed to be a relationship that lasts 7 days, not something that you pick up whenever you feel like it.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Jesus sets the example for those who tend to be distracted by others or stressed by the upcoming schedule you have to meet.  While his disciples are swayed by human demands, Jesus took the first moments of each day to spend with his heavenly father.  Therefore, don’t allow worry to lead you to become a Monday morning atheist.  Rather, slow down, be still before the Lord and let the Holy Spirit influence the steps you take 7 days a week.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Enough Syndrome

Whether its the persistent increase of consumer prices or decline in the purchasing power of the dollar, most families and individuals understand how difficult it is to get ahead in this financial climate.  The majority fluctuate between not enough and just enough, making sacrifices to break even monthly.  Meanwhile, the blessed, talented and wealthy are fortunate to experience a more than enough income, reaching a place of security few can comprehend.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” – Acts 20:35

Prior to the bursting of the dot.com bubble on Wall Street, my wife and I made investments in two of the highest earning mutual funds in the world.  Thinking these were going to continue to rise in value and not wanting to pay the taxes for selling them, we elected to put less money down on our first house instead of cashing out to pay for our home in full.  This decision made sense until 2001 when the market tanked, flushing 60,000 dollars in paper money down the toilet.  Ever since this day, I know the anguish of the “Enough Syndrome,” living under the curse of not enough.

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. – Deuteronomy 8:18

From a spiritual perspective, the Jews were led by God through 3 similar phases in life.  During 400 years of slavery in Egypt, not enough was par for the course, an accepted way of life.  Upon their departure, able to pillage Egypt following the plague of the First Born, Israel spent 40 years in the Wilderness, graduating up to a just enough status as God provided manna, quail and water to meet their daily needs.  Finally, the promise of a land filled with milk and honey was fulfilled, giving birth to a generation who tasted more than enough.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34

Wherever you may be on this financial spectrum, remember the words of Job 1:21, “the Lord gives and takes away.”  Through the good times and the bad, there is a lesson to be learned.  At the end of each day, try to find and reflect on the positive things in your life, Philippians 4:8-9.  No matter how hard it may be, trust in the Lord to help you move from the months of not enough to years of more than enough!

by Jay Mankus

How Long Must We Wait O Lord?

Waiting for anything isn’t natural.  The idea you have to remain inactive, stationary and pause until expectations are fulfilled can be agonizing.  The longer one waits, the greater doubts grow, wondering if prayers will be answered.

How long must your servant wait?  When will you punish my persecutors? – Psalm 119:84

Several Psalmists describe their anguish waiting to experience God’s promises.  As the wicked prosper without any penalties, cries for justice may go unnoticed for years.  Thus, screams of frustrations point toward heaven hoping for action to occur soon.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 4:1

In this silence, impatience often boils over.  This is when most turn their back on God.   For those clinging on to hope, only time will dictate whether or not faith will be reignited.  How long must we wait O Lord?  Keep praying til your requests become reality, following in the footsteps of the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Why I Experienced the Bottom of the Barrel

For those of you fortunate enough not to have tasted defeat, experience failure or feel the pain of loss, your perspective is limited.  Sheltered from this anguish, you haven’t been forced rely on the Lord.  Instead this smooth journey leads passengers to trust in their health and wealth, oblivious to the bottom of the barrel.

As I look back on recent heartaches of a 2-19 season as a coach, the struggle to rebuild my work career and dedication to the dreams of my youth, hardship has refined my faith.  Although the furnace isn’t a pleasant place to visit, 1 Peter 1:6-7, this necessary evil has lifted me up from the bottom on the barrel.  In the midst of this storm, I have a new appreciation for the little things in life.

Humility has helped me come to the realization that I can’t do it on my own.  Rather, I need a Savior to pick me up when I fall, Matthew 11:28-30.  Sure, it would be nice to forgo past trials, yet I wouldn’t be where I am today if these events did not occur.  Therefore, my focus shifts upward, Philippians 3:12-14, so that if I experience the bottom of the barrel again, the sun will shine upon my face letting me know that everything will be okay.

by Jay Mankus

 

Desperation: A Recipe for Restoration

In the 1971, Carly Simon released Anticipation, featuring the song that inspired this album.  Eight years later, Heinz Ketchup developed the slogan, “Anticipation is making me wait,” by mixing Carly Simon’s song with images of ketchup slowly flowing out of a bottle.  During an interview on National Public Radio, also known as NPR, Carly Simon shared the meaning of Anticipation.  While waiting for Cat Stevens to pick her up on their first date, the lyrics to this song were formed and the rest is history.

Although ketchup and God don’t have any thing in common, Heinz’ marketing campaign and Carly Simon’s song illustrate how the Lord works behind the scenes.  God allows individuals to experience desperation, causing hearts to develop a sense of urgency.  As one hungers for something more in life like the prodigal son in Luke 15:16-20, a recipe for restoration is generated.  Thus, despite any anguish, brokenness and heartache people have to endure, the Lord uses desperation to lead hurting souls beside still waters, Psalm 23:1-6.

Everyone understands how painful waiting can be.  Whether you’re at the hospital anticipating news from a doctor regarding life or death, impatiently waiting for God to answer your prayers or searching for clues to understand the trial you are currently undergoing, each scenario breeds desperation.  Like Nicodemus, seeking out Jesus at night in John 3:1, sometimes you have to humble yourself, realize you’re not in control and kneel before God, Luke 7:37-38.  May any lukewarm spirit holding you down be expelled as God uses desperation as a recipe for restoration.

by Jay Mankus

 

When It Rains… It Pours

On the surface, some people appear to have bad luck.  If its not one thing, another quickly turns for the worse.  Unfortunately, too many of us on earth know the expression, “when it rains, its pours.”

Trials don’t wait for a convenient time to show up.  Rather, out of the blue and unannounced, these disappointing events inflict anguish, heartache and sorrow.  Like a snow ball thrown off of a mountain, avalanches form creating a wall of destruction headed toward innocent bystanders.  These freaks of nature don’t stop until its energy has been exhausted.

Similar to a fire drill, Christians should be prepared for the next hurricane.  However, spiritual storms aren’t limited to a few months out of the year.  Instead, every day pop up thunderstorms are possible, ripping the foundations out from those not ready, Matthew 7:24-27.  May the promise of Psalm 34:18 encourage anyone who is currently stuck in stationary showers that don’t seem to be letting up.  Hang in there, don’t give up and cling to the Lord, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

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