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Tag Archives: overcoming trials in life

A Life Without Relationships

Casual friendships will come and go depending upon circumstances in life.  Yet, everyone needs at least one permanent meaningful lasting relationship to get you through hardship, struggles and trials.  Unfortunately, some choose to become lone rangers, wandering through life alone.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”- Exodus 18:14

After leading Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness, Moses fell prey to this mindset.  Serving as the supreme judge, Moses worked from sun up to sun down, about sixteen hours a day.  During a visit from his father in law, Jethro made an obvious observation, “what you are doing is not good.”  Jethro’s advice was to train other judges, then delegate basic and simple cases to these men.  The decision to alter his course prevented Moses from living a life without relationships.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:41-42.

Unfortunately, I have a tendency to follow in Moses’ footsteps, trying to do everything on my own.  Anyone who continues down this path is destined to become burned out or overwhelmed.  Some refer to this as the Martha complex, when you are so consumed with day to day chores you forget to enjoy the people God has blessed you with.  Heed the wise words of Jethro so that you don’t live a life without relationships.

by Jay Mankus

Short but Sweet

Due to an unexpected eye surgery on Friday, I am not sure exactly how this will influence my writing.  Initially, I will have some restrictions but to what extent is unknown.  Thus, for the meantime my blogs will have to be short but sweet.

“LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am, Psalm 39:4.”

One of the contributions to life made by Psalmists in the Bible is their willingness to plead with God for answers in prayer.  Rarely, do you read the words I hope or wish.  Rather, these young men poured out their hearts to God in a clear and concise manner expecting results.

For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, Because our days on earth are as a shadow, Job 8:9.

The words above are profound as the only certainty in life is what happened yesterday.  The rest of today and tomorrow is a mystery, known only to the Lord above.  While I am disappointed with my current physical condition, I trust that God is using trials of the present to strengthen me for the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Life Without Sight?

When I first moved to Delaware, I worked 2 jobs and went back to school to try to finish my Masters in Theology.  After 2 successful years, I began to develop some eye issues.  Unfortunately, the strain on my eyes was too much as I was diagnosed with iritis 15 years ago.  While dropping out of school helped, its been a decade of ups and downs, unsure if my medication would improve my condition.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:4.

In the past 6 months, one of my eyes has been unresponsive for some reason.  Thus, I’m facing a dangerous scenario of either surgery or possible losing my sight in this eye.  For someone planning on writing a movie script per year in retirement, this is a major problem.  Thus, one has to wonder why this trial has knocked on my door.  This is where faith, science and the human body collide.

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven, James 5:15.

Despite the odds confronting me, I am still holding out hope for a miracle.  As I wait a month for my next check up, all I can do is be a good patient by following my doctor’s instructions.  Meanwhile, I will lift my situation up to the great healer in the sky.  The anticipation and waiting will be tough, yet I serve a living God who has a record of restoring sight to the blind.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Taken Away

In the 1972 Men’s Basketball Olympic Gold Medal Game, the buzzer sounded twice at the end of the game with the United States leading 50-49.  However, the officials stopped the game a final time, putting 3 second back on the clock.  On the third attempt, the U.S.S.R. caught a long inbound pass and scored a two point basket as time expired.  Despite an appeal to the Olympic Committee, the final score was upheld giving the gold medal to the Soviet’s squad.  Today, the silver medals of this team remain in a Swiss bank vault, unclaimed as their gold medal was taken away.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it, Matthew 16:25.

You don’t have to be an athlete to have something taken away.  A car accident may leave an individual paralyzed.  Some sort of rare illness can steal the health of a young and formerly energetic soul.  Meanwhile, careers, jobs and relationships may end prematurely, without your consent or failed attempts to save them.  Whenever you endure heartbreak, these moments in time may take years to overcome.  Somethings in life just aren’t fair and what’s worse God tends to be receive the blame for most of life’s troubles.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” John 6:35.

As God closes the door abruptly on one aspect in your life, faith is what gets individuals through periods of darkness.  Although the day light may not come soon enough, an invisible source will stand by your side.  Promising the Holy Spirit, Jesus foresaw a time when things would be taken away on this earth.  Subsequently, when this day arrives, its essential to turn your attention toward the bread of life.  Don’t let what has been taken away from you develop into a life filled with bitterness and regret.  Rather, press on through days of darkness to find meaning and purpose in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The One that Got Away

One of the certainties in life is that you will experience disappointment at some point in time.  Despite having an ideal or perfect day, there will be outcomes that surprise you.  These twists and turns having lasting effects, especially when you are so close to victory.  Thus, everyone has a story, as painful as it may be about the one that got away.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, 1 Peter 1:6.

As a student in high school, I was one dimensional.  Although I eventually improved my grade point average, my sole concern was with sports.  I guess you can say I lived and died with each victory and loss.  While I was blessed to be apart of many great teams, I never won a state championship, finishing second in cross country, third in a swimming relay and fourth in golf.  If only I was healthy, stronger or I could putt, the ending may have been different.  Since there is no time travel device or vehicle to go back, all I can do is think about what might have been.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed, 1 Peter 1:7.

Each of these failures digs up a certain degree of anguish.  As a junior I watched my cross country team lose by 7 points as I sat on the sidelines after reconstructive ankle surgery.  This was excruciating, but losing the state golf championship as a senior probably stings more, letting a first round lead slip away, clawing back to within one on the back nine, only to fade down the stretch.  Exactly why God allows individuals to endure heartbreak is hard to say.  Yet, in every defeat, there is a life lesson, something to learn from so you can overcome the one that got away.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Pain of Unjust Suffering

Every day is like the luck of the draw.  Sometimes you experience undeserved blessings.  Other mornings you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, confronted with the pain of unjust suffering.  According to Peter, a disciple of Jesus who faced his own trials and tribulations, as you undergo these periods in life, be conscious of God.

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God, 1 Peter 2:19.

Unfortunately, those who become a target of the enemy like Job, sometimes moments of crisis can be overwhelming.  If you have ever read John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, its almost hard to believe someone could endure such pain.  In the face of death, these saints considered sacrificing their lives rather than compromising their faith.  Truly, these individuals were conscious of God.

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, Hebrews 11:37.

Modern Christians in America are facing a new challenge, the loss of religious freedoms.  Whether its prayer in school, the 10 commandments displayed in public places or quoting politically incorrect verses from the Bible, any of these infractions will leave you in hot water, under scrutiny from the mainstream media.  Nonetheless, if you are acting out of conviction, in the name of Jesus, you may be on the verge of experiencing the pain of unjust suffering.

by Jay Mankus

The Joseph Parallel

The logical individual thinks life should be a series of straight lines from point A to point B and so on.  While everyone may experience progress and natural progressions at times, life is full of detours, road blocks and phases of construction.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a period of transition, remember the Joseph parallel.

And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it, Genesis 37:23-24.

Joseph son of Jacob, had high expectations, receiving dreams and visions of the life God intended.  However, envy, jealousy and pride led Joseph down a path of disappointment.  Despite a series of heartbreaks, Joseph remained optimistic, leading to favor from God and man.  Apparently, Joseph didn’t care how long it took to fulfill God’s will.  Rather, Joseph kept plugging away at life until God opened doors that he was ready to walk through.

And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.  But Jehovah was with Joseph, and showed kindness unto him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison, Genesis 39:20-21.

As I look at my own life, its not that different from Joseph.  However, when I experience trials I spent too much questioning God instead of making the best of each situation.  Subsequently, I have wasted countless days, weeks and years complaining instead of currying God’s favor.  In view of Joseph’s parallel, I need to be transformed, embracing hardships like James 1:2-4.  Although the Lord is waiting to bless his children, too many are having pity parties instead of taking God’s hand in faith.  May the Joseph parallel broaden your perspective and inspire you to keep serving the Lord until you reach your final destination.

by Jay Mankus

Faith + Patience = Blessings

Faith is like having an imaginary friend as a child.  However, instead of talking to this person, you develop a strong belief that everything will be all right.  Over time questioning parents are replaced by a cynical world, trying to convince you that you’re insane or hallucinating.  In the final episode of Joan of Arcadia, Season 1, doctors persuade Joan, played by Amber Tamblyn, that her encounters with God have been a figment of her imagination.  In the same way, when God is silent its not uncommon for many to lose faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

Patience on the other hand is one of those virtues you would like to possess, but are afraid to pray for.  Anyone who asks God for patience will be ushered into numerous situations that will force you to learn this trait the hard way.  Beyond praying, patience is often acquired over a period of time in the form of lessons learned through trials.  Time has a way of helping individuals see the big picture, using hindsight to recognize God’s hand in your past.  Thus, patient people tend to lean on faith which ultimately leads to blessings.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, James 1:2-3.

When you add two numbers together in math, the outcome is always identical.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about life.  Job endured horrible disappointment which led friends to believe these events were a form of God’s punishment for some unconfessed sin.  These anomies continue to exist today, pushing faith and patience to the limit.  Nonetheless, if you follow the words of Deuteronomy 28:1-3, over the long haul you will find that faith plus patience leads to blessings.

by Jay Mankus

An Anchor for the Soul

Prior to the Bronze Age, ships typically relied on rocks as an anchor.  The ancient Greeks placed several placed rocks, bags of sand or wooden logs filled with lead into a basket.  Leading up to the 19th century, the manufacturing process of anchors was imperfect.  The curve feature of modern anchors did not appear until 1813 when Pering, a clerk from Plymouth Yard introduced this feature.  Time has perfected this vital piece of equipment, saving the lives of countless crewmen from running aground during the storms of life.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, Hebrews 6:19.

According to the author of Hebrews, hope is a spiritual anchor for the soul.  Without signs of hope, the human spirit can wilt, pushed to a breaking point.  If you ever feel like giving up, the Bible provides a valuable solution.  When an individual throws an anchor overboard, the bottom is invisible, relying on the tension of the chain to determine if you’ve struck the bottom.  In the same way, God’s unchanging nature is rock solid, fulfilling the promises He has made in the past.  This is the anchor for troubled souls.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Every day on earth is like taking a journey out to sea.  You never know what you will find, who or what you will encounter and how quickly the weather will change.  When the unexpected arises, who will you trust?  Some have gotten into the habit of relying in their own abilities.  Although God has given everyone certain qualities, leaning on the Lord will help you ride out troubled waters.  Whatever life throws at you, don’t forget about the anchor for the soul.

by Jay Mankus

Blinded for a Time

In the 1988 action film Bloodsport, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a martial arts expert Frank Dux.  The name is derived from a famous competition known as the Kumite.  During the championship match, the defending champion who killed on of his opponents in a preliminary match, throws a foreign substance into Dux’s eyes.  Blinded for a short time, Frank panics before relying on his training which carries him onto victory.

Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus, Acts 9:8.

The saying “you don’t know what you have until its gone” can be applied to several aspects in life.  A soldier who relies on his strength may loose a limb or limbs in battle.  Individuals may take forgranted a special relationship until death takes this person away prematurely.  Meanwhile, a career or home can be ruined in a blink of an eye.  Regardless of who you are or where you live, sooner or later you will be blindsided by a trial.  How you respond will determine the path you take in life.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, 1 Peter 1:6.

Looking back over the last 5 years of my life, I was forced to fight through adversity.  Through some of the ups and downs, there were times I felt God turned his back on me.  Yet, as I was blinded for a time, I learned that God never moved.  Rather, I allowed bitterness, frustration and regret lead me to drift away into period of depression.  However, like Jean-Claude Van Damme in the end of Bloodsport, my previous training in the Bible is helping me return to a victorious life in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

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