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Tag Archives: suffering

Sticks and Stones Wound Souls

Whenever anyone experiences a series of bad breaks, those close to this individual may begin to wonder why suffering, tribulations and unfortunate events have visited their friend.  In the Old Testament, bad and good were often linked to God.  Thus, a mentality developed to associate anything good with blessings and the bad as some sort of curse from God.  This is the context of the passage below as Job has listened to his friends attempt to explain the freak accidents and natural disaster that destroyed his possessions and took the lives of his children.

“I also could speak like you, If you were in my place; I could compose and join words together against you and shake my head at you,” Job 16:4.

Job calls out those who have made numerous accusations against him.  One of the translations refers to words that can tear you into pieces.  Essentially, Job states that anyone can sit back and point their finger in the direction of blame.  Yet, Job refuses to participate in this futile activity.  Rather, Job turns his attention toward seeking God to find understanding for his recent trials.  In today’s volatile climate of daily verbal assaults against those the media disagrees with politically, this is an important lesson to learn.

A [shortsighted] fool always loses his temper and displays his anger, but a wise man [uses self-control and] holds it back, Proverbs 29:11.

The phrase sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me first appeared in 1872.  Mrs. George Cupples presented this saying as advice in Tappy Chicks: and Other Links Between Nature and Human Nature.  While this piece of wisdom attempts to develop mental toughness, the Bible reveals a different story.  When anger or tempers influence language, critical words inflict wounds to human souls.  While there are no initial bruises like marks from sticks and stones, vulnerable hearts take each blow.  Before anyone person gets hurt or killed like the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, its time to lay down your weapons so that healing may begin now.

by Jay Mankus

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If There Was Another Way

When individuals can’t live up to the required standards, human nature has a tendency to wonder, is there another way?  This temptation may cause some in leadership roles to make an exception, bend the rules a little bit or stretch the truth.  This mindset didn’t go so well for Adam and Eve, kicked out of the Garden of Eden for breaking God’s only rule.

After going a little farther, He fell to the ground [distressed by the weight of His spiritual burden] and began to pray that if it were possible [in the Father’s will], the hour [of suffering and death for the sins of mankind] might pass from Him, Mark 14:35.

When the thought of suffering and dying on a cross entered Jesus’ mind, raw emotions began to come out.  After sharing his concerns with his inner circle, Jesus turned to prayer to lift up his burdens to his heavenly father.  During this time of prayer, Jesus essentially asked God if there was another way, an alternative to dying.  However, the more Jesus prayed, he came to the conclusion that there is only one way to complete God’s will, suffer and die on a cross.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, John 14:6.

Skeptics of Christianity are offended by the shear arrogance of Jesus, claiming to be the only way to heaven.  While other religions share similar elements with Christianity, Jesus is only one who is exclusive.  These comments inspired C.S. Lewis to write a chapter entitled Lord, Liar or Lunatic?  Lewis covers each aspect of these terms, examining the true nature of Jesus.  As a former atheist, this thorough analysis transformed his life from a person of science into a man of faith.  While mankind will continue to seek another way to heaven, Jesus remains only plausible path to eternal life.  Don’t take my words; read Mere Christianity for yourself in case you still think there is another way.

by Jay Mankus

A Faith Without Hesitation

In 1985 Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly, a high school student who becomes friends with a mad scientist played by Christopher Lloyd.  When Doc Brown creates a time machine out of a Delorean, Michael J. Fox races into the past to save his friends life in Back to the Future.  When his interactions alter the course of his families history, Marty has to convince his father George who is a teenager at the time to ask his mother Lorraine to the dance where they first kissed.  After a band member gets hurt, Marty steps in to set the mood so that this moment occurs.  Before leaving to return to the future, Marty shares a song that hadn’t been introduced to this generation, referring to this as an oldie, but goodie.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest, John 12:24.

One of Jesus’ disciples recalls a special message within his gospel.  During Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth before suffering, dying on a cross and rising again, the passage above was first spoken.  Jesus is providing a foreshadowing of his future fate.  While the disciples were oblivious to this comment at the time, Jesus knew this was his destiny, John 3:16-17.  Just as a grain of wheat must die to yield a harvest, the son of God paid the price for all of mankind’s sin, Colossians 2:13-15.  This is a promise for all generations.

The one who loves his life [eventually] loses it [through death], but the one who hates his life in this world [and is concerned with pleasing God] will keep it for life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must [continue to faithfully] follow Me [without hesitation, holding steadfastly to Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]; and wherever I am [in heaven’s glory], there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him, John 12:25-26.

In the passage above, Jesus explains the way to eternal life.  However, this theory goes against what people are taught, from early education to pursuing a career.  Like the line in the movie Cars “turn right to go left,” Jesus proclaims those who hate life on earth will keep it in heaven.  Initially, this concept is hard to grasp.  Yet, as you meditate, pondering these words, its clear you have to give before you receive.  Until you develop a servant’s heart, putting others before yourself, human nature will pull you toward pleasing your selfish desires.  Thus, as Easter Sunday approaches, may you long for a faith without hesitation, holding steadfast to God’s promises in the Bible no matter what happens in this life.

by Jay Mankus

Joe and Kay

Last weekend, I attended a benefit concert for one of my former students.  While listening to the music, speakers and video, I am touched by the legacy these two students have left behind.  Joseph Feeley was a gifted athlete, solid believer and destined to play professional baseball or become a long drive champion.  Meanwhile, Kaylyn Warren was an aspiring actress in school plays, talented singer and godly leader.  Unfortunately, each were taken away, struck down by vicious cancers.

And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary, Luke 18:3.

Like the tribulations of Job, somethings will never make any sense.  Subsequently, those who endure horrific conditions are forever linked by time.  From an earthly perspective, parents, relatives and students were robbed of spending more time with their friend.  On the other hand, each were relieved of their suffering and reunited with God the Father in heaven.  Trying to comprehend the Lord’s grand design can be overwhelming.  Thus, for now, all I can grasp is that by dying, these two teenagers impacted their peers with a persistent faith.

I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? – Luke 18:8

Over time, its easy to lose touch with the people you care about.  Yet, wherever you are, its crucial to find a ministry to poor your heart and soul into on earth.  Although, it may take some time to locate one that you believe in, God has a special place for you if you are willing.  Sure, there are distractions, trying to grab your attention.  Nonetheless, if you want to make an investment for eternity, remember the example of Joe and Kay so that others will be touched by your deeds when your time on earth runs out.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Unusual Path to Success

During a sleepless night off, I began channeling surfing to find something entertaining.  Using the scroll down future, I found a show entitled Finding Success Through Failure.  Hosted by John Stossel, this Fox Business Channel program examined unusual beginnings of famous companies.  For example, following a forty dollar fine for forgetting to return a video to the store, the concept to Netflix was born.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

For those entrepreneurs who fail multiple times, Stossel interviewed a couple of guests who honed in on grasping what went wrong during failed ventures.  These people go through a purification process using trial and error as a teaching aide.  Meanwhile, the spoiled, unprepared and weak often quit at the first sign of adversity.  Real life is not a fairy tale.  Rather, there are usually several road blocks, directional arrows and u-turns along the way before you arrive at the dream job.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

When life throws you a curve ball, sometimes you have to reinvent yourself.  Five years ago I had aspirations of becoming a college professor, starting at a new community college.  When that plan was thwarted, I went into survival mode, throwing things up in the air to see what stuck.  Although I have found a home at Amazon for now, I believe I have what it takes to write movie scripts.  While I may not get to the career my choice, I’m ready to take the unusual path to success wherever it takes me.

by Jay Mankus

The Price of Life

Whenever you have an accident, are diagnosed with a disease or face a long rehab, its hard to put a price on life.  After breaking two ribs and collapsing a lung, two ambulance rides cost nearly one thousand dollars each.  Treatments for cancer can accumulate into the tens of thousands.  Meanwhile, braces, surgeries and wheel chairs aren’t too far behind, cutting into the life savings of those face with life altering conditions.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

On the road to recovery, individuals have to consider the cost.  Do you I want to extend my life?  Or do I want to end my suffering?  Sure, parents and loved ones will often do whatever necessary to keep the hope of healing alive.  Yet, as time goes by, its up to the injured party to possess the desire and will to carry on.  So what is the price of a life?  Should you place a limit or should you adopt the Master Card slogan that life is priceless?

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

According to Jesus, there is something else more important than saving your life.  The human soul is more valuable as it controls your eternal destiny.  Thus, before you extend all your time and energy on trying to survive, don’t forget about eternal life.  One of Jesus’ disciples claims that you can know for sure before you die, 1 John 5:13.  Therefore, make your reservation today as a soul destined for is a horrible fate to face.  The price of life is worth it all as long as a decision has been made, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Long Road to Hope

The long road to hope begins with suffering.  Following the aftermath of original sin detailed in Genesis 3, a cursed was placed on this earth.  God’s creation of His perfect world was ruined, leading to a life of disappointment, frustration and suffering.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; Romans 8:3.

Despite the pain often inflicted, individuals have something to look forward to the longer you walk down this road.  While your ego and pride may take a beating, glimmers of hope surface along the way.  Thus, when the sun breaks through the clouds, maturity is not that far away.

Perseverance, character; and character, hope, Romans 8:4.

If you hang in there long enough, a sense of hope comes into focus.  Beyond whatever self pity remains, God’s love still shines, radiating day after day.  When you don’t have the strength to take another step, a spirit is sent by your side to lead you to the end of this road.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

The best way to describe God is like the scene in the Wizard of Oz.  Dorothy and her friends have been poisoned by a wicked witch, causing each to drift off to sleep, suddenly halting their journey.  Yet, snow is sent to awaken everyone so that they reach their final destination.  The Holy Spirit plays a similar role, the invisible force to help us persevere on the long road to hope.

by Jay Mankus

 

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