EMPATHY – YOUR PAIN IN MY HEART

 

IMG-20130626-00827(My sister and I – still growing and learning)

Empathy is defined as “your pain in my heart”.  How do we develop empathy if we never experience pain or hurt, sickness or the loss of a loved one, either through death or the ending of a relationship?

Oswald Chambers writes:

Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me.  The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow.  Why it should be this way is immaterial.  The fact is that it is true in the Scriptures and in human experience.  You can always know that you can go to him, who has suffered, in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you.  But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away.  If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow God will make you nourishment for other people”.

My sister once wrote me a letter and this is what she said:

I think we are blessed in a wonderfully paradoxical way, because our capacity – huge capacity – for healing has been carved and hollowed out through our experiences of pain and feelings of rejection, feelings of never quite being good enough, through our failures, through our unmet expectations, and disappointments with ourselves and others – suffering is so intimately connected to wholeness.  Perhaps wisdom is simply a matter of waiting and healing a question of time”

It has been through my times of pain and sorrow that I have grown the most as a person.  It is also during those times that I have actively sought God and prayed the most!

Nick Vujicic, a man born without arms or legs has this to say:

I love how God lets us go through difficult challenges to help each other and encourage one another.  The challenges in our lives are there to strengthen our convictions.  They are not there to run us over”.

And then James Wilson said the following:

“And in the miracle of God’s provision for an escape, He takes the very scars that Satan inflicted to draw lines of beauty upon our souls. IF we turn over control to God instead of cursing Him!”

THE AGE OLD QUESTION! WHY DOES GOD ALLOW………?

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One of the most common words used in the English language must be the word WHY?
The dictionary defines ‘why’ as follows: for what reason, purpose or cause? An expression of surprise, disagreement, indignation”.
The majority of us struggle with the question of ‘why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Incredible that, as I was typing this, my 12 year old came into my office and read me part of an essay she had written. The title was “Why?” I listened in amazement as my child verbalized this age old question.
 Why? Why would God make the world if He knew that it would be destroyed? Why would He make the world if life for some people in this world would be destroyed or hurt for no reason? For a little child will lose its mother and be like a lamb alone in a field, hurt and broken inside. Why? This child who has done no wrong has now lost its mother. Why would God let this child suffer? Why? – Emma Jane Curry
Often, the answer to that question has got nothing whatsoever to do with God. It has to do with bad decisions the government of the country has made, or wrong choices our parents or grand-parents may have made or even the consequences of our own wrong doing. What about Global warming and climate change in the world today and the effects of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation? Man is responsible for that not God.
God created us because He wanted a relationship with us. He gave us freedom of choice because, if He had not, we would be robotic creatures unable to form a relationship or interact with Him.
 I heard the following story the other day and it highlighted for me the verse “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”. (Romans 8:28)
There was a king who had a devoted servant. This servant loved the Lord and was continually praising God for His goodness. The king and the servant went hunting one day and a lion attacked the king. The servant managed to fight the lion off but, alas, the king lost his index finger. The lion had managed to bite it off! The king was really upset and what made it worse was the fact that the servant told him he should be grateful to God for sparing his life. All the king could think of was the pain and the fact that his finger was missing. He could not believe that his servant was praising God for this so he had the servant thrown into jail. A few days later the king went hunting and was captured by a tribe who offered human sacrifices to their gods. The king was bound and laid on an altar in preparation for the sacrificial ritual to begin when the tribe suddenly noticed that he had a finger missing. This caused great consternation as it was forbidden to sacrifice anyone who was ‘incomplete’. They cut his cords and allowed him to go free. When he finally made it back to his village, the first thing he did was to go straight to the jail and set his servant free. He explained to the servant that if it had not been for the missing finger he would be dead. The servant then proceeded to give all thanks and glory to God! The king listened for a little while and then posed this question, “If your God is so good and amazing
WHY did He allow you to be thrown into jail?” The servant replied, “Because, my king, if I had been hunting with you, I too would have been captured. And when they discovered that you had a part missing I would have been sacrificed in your stead! Thank God I was in jail!”
We have no idea what the future holds but I do know that our time here on earth is very short compared to eternity! If we accept Jesus as our Saviour we will be spending eternity with God and the things that we experienced here on earth will fade into insignificance.
When the question why besets me I think about the answer Oswald Chambers once gave his wife. They had just been to visit a friend who was suffering from typhoid fever and was close to death and she asked, “I wonder what God is going to do?” Oswald replied, “I don’t care what God does. It’s what God IS that I care about”.
When the word why reverberates in my head I hold onto these words that God spoke:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior ……Do not be afraid, for I am with you”. (Isaiah 43:1-3, 5)
Photo courtesy of Google

Off the Rails: A Good Thing?

Big Red Carpet Nursing

rails   Google SearchI’m not particularly enthusiastic with “should,” “that’s how we do it,” arbitrary rules, and so on.

They each have their place, and I respect that, but not enthusiastically. I can decide.

I favor reason, initiative, innovation, creativity, judgement, freedom. That’s my way.

I figure initiative got us humans out of the caves, gave us fire. Not bad! Rules and traditions give us more of the same.

So I’m curious. I’m too tired today to offer serious material – so much work lately! – but still, I’m curious.

I’ve had a saying for some time now, a vague philosophy of sorts.

Simple really. I can quote it:

“I went off the rails. Then I figured out I like it better that way. Far more freedom of movement!”

Jumping the rails is usually framed as a disaster. For a train and its passengers, it IS a disaster, of course.

For metaphorical purposes…

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WHEN WE BLOW IT!

New Year's Bang

“If you have failed and you are filled with despair, with no idea where to turn for inspiration and strength, remember then the compassion of Jesus.  In the power of His love He encourages you to persevere and to rebuild your life”.1

One of the most comforting verses God put into the Bible is the one that says “…though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand”.2 If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour and truly desire to serve the Lord and live our lives as His children the following verse will apply to us “If the Lord delights in a man’s way he makes his steps firm”3. It doesn’t matter how many times we may fail or feel we have blown it – if we are prepared to go before Him and confess our sins He says  “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”4

Jesus knows exactly what we are like.  In fact He made allowances for our bad behavior when He answered Peter’s question “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”.5
He knew that we would need to come before Him time and time again to ask forgiveness for the same sin.

I often feel that nothing in my life changes. That I am still the same person I was before I accepted Christ as my Saviour.  That I will never gain victory over certain sins/wrong behavior/bad habits in my life.  I go before God and ask for forgiveness time and time again for exactly the same ‘sin’. It is then, in that moment of despair, that I cry out to God to give me the faith and the assurance that I am forgiven and I hear Him say “I am the One who began the good work within you and I will keep right on helping you grow in My grace until My task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns”.6

To back that up He put this in the Bible as well for whenever our hearts condemn us

 “ For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”7

1.  Ozrovech, Solly.  More than Life Itself: A Daily Devotional
2.  Psalm 37:24, Holy Bible, NIV
3.  Psalm37:23, Holy Bible, NIV
4.  Isaiah 43:25, Holy Bible, NIV
5.  Matthew 18:21 & 22, Holy Bible, NIV
6.  Philippians 1:6 paraphrased, LAB
7.  1 John 3:20, Holy Bible, NIV

Photo courtesy of google

IS DIVORCE A SIN?

 

Cape Town-20130919-01088

I posted a blog on “The promise to never divorce”.  A friend of mine responded to that blog and I posted her response “The other side of divorce”.  The links to these blogs are below.

http://godspromisebook.blogspot.com/2014/04/noelene-curryspassion-in-life-is-for.html

http://godspromisebook.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-other-side-of-divorce.html

In response to these posts another friend sent me an email commenting on what we had written.  He has been happily married to the same woman for many, many years and I asked him if I could share his email and my response to it.  He very graciously agreed that I could.

I found what he wrote moving and insightful and feel he expresses and captures the pain of divorce in a very real way.

HIS EMAIL IN RESPONSE TO  ‘THE OTHER SIDE OF DIVORCE’ AND ‘THE PROMISE TO NEVER DIVORCE’:

This is a very good perspective from somebody who has been through the agonising road of divorce. Thanks for sharing. Only one comment from a non writer but I feel this needs to be said, given the comments about having sinned when divorced. So here goes:

Whether we have sinned or not is only for God to judge, not man.

Firstly let me say that I firmly believe and hold onto the ideal that when one marries, it is for life. For better or worse. That is my belief and I am very grateful that I have married a stunning woman who shares this ideal.

But in many cases, the pain and suffering that people go through in a failed marriage, and the people around them, is a huge burden to carry, and as this person puts it, more harmful than separation. To call it sinful in those cases to divorce is not our call to make. God knows the heart. He knows the person. He knows the circumstances. He loved us into life, he loves us through life and he guides our thoughts and deeds if we let him. Too many people live with tremendous guilt when they get divorced and find it difficult to reconcile this with what they have been taught in catechism. And victims of abuse in marriage and unfaithfulness live with enough of a burden. To have to also deal with getting out of that marriage being labelled sinful is probably even a tougher form of internal abuse caused by the turmoil between what their faith tells them and their situation. The two together are two big reasons abused people cannot bring themselves to getting out of an abusive situation, or leave it too late.

So to people in those situations I say. Be close to God. Live a life guided by His teaching as best you can. When things are tough, confide in Him. When things are going well, thank Him. And when things go wrong, ask Him for guidance, listen to His answer and trust in Him. And the decisions you take when you truly believe they are guided by Him will not leave you wanting. Let Him be the ultimate judge as to how you have lived your life, not man.

MY RESPONSE:

I just want to say that neither my friend or I would ever presume to judge anyone about divorce.  We are far from perfect ourselves and that verse “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”  (Romans 3:23) applies to me on a regular basis!

When I say that divorce is a sin,  I am stating a fact – not judging.  I realise that we can spend a long time discussing the semantics of ‘judgement’ versus ‘factual’ but I will try and explain what I mean.  God Himself calls it a sin.  That is a fact.
In Malachi 2:16 God says “I hate divorce”
When we get married we vow before God not to get divorced “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder”.  This is a promise that we make to God – breaking that promise is a sin.
Lying, stealing, cheating, murder are sins.  When we say someone has lied, which is a sin, we are not judging – we are stating a fact.  Again we could argue about semantics here!

This is why it is so liberating when God says He will forgive us our sins (when we say sorry to him for breaking our vows of marriage that we made before Him and to Him) and will remember them no more.
There is healing and freedom and a future after a divorce and we don’t have to ‘carry’ that pain and  hurt and guilt with us if we believe in Jesus Christ. (after a grieving process of course).

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”.  (Matthew 7:1 & 2)

KEEPING OUR HEADS ABOVE THE PAVEMENT

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“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems that by keeping its dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared. You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love its will to reach the sun. Well, we are the rose – this is the concrete – and these are my damaged petals.”

-Tupac Shakur

I came across the above quote on the blog site “takingthemaskoff”.   The blog is entitled LOST AND NEVER FOUND:  AN ALCOHOLIC’S UNKNOWN STORY.

It is an incredibly well written piece and if you, or anyone you know, suffers from a mental illness or an addiction – depression, alcoholism, cutting, anorexia, gambling etc – this blog is definitely worth reading.  http://takingthemaskoff.com/2014/08/19/lost-and-never-found-an-alcoholics-unknown-story/comment-page-2/#comment-982

Just realized what a superfluous statement that is “if you, or anyone you know, suffers …….”

I don’t think there is anyone in the world today who isn’t suffering or who doesn’t  know someone who is suffering.

The majority of us have bruised leaves and we are all striving to keep our heads up off the pavement.

download images (2) images (1) resilience1
I look at the images above and marvel at the sheer determination and tenacity of these plants.  They have managed to grow and flourish despite the most severe odds stacked against them.

Despite the fact that they have no background, no knowledge of their parental seed, no grounding, no good role models they have still succeeded in growing into the most beautiful flowers that bring joy to most people who see them.

They have embraced the little they have – oxygen, sunshine and rainwater supplied by God – and have grown and flourished.

They have concentrated on growing every day instead of filling their days with regret and anger and bitterness as to where they have been placed!  Or constantly asking “why me?”  “Why could I not have been planted in beautiful fertile soil instead of just being dropped haphazardly onto the pavement and left there alone?”

I wish more of us could be like these plants and flowers.

Thanking God every day for what we do have and making the most of what we have been given. Continually looking up towards the Son.

Not looking at others and judging how they are doing, or being envious because it seems that they have more than we have.

But just striving to grow into the person God created us to be and in that way bring joy to those who pass us by.

Below is a link to a video that everyone should watch at least once in their life time.

learned to walk without having feet”

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153154817558902&set=vb.672878901&type=2&theater

Photos courtesy of google!