Today is 9/11, a day that brings to mind vivid pictures of massive buildings being reduced to smoke and ash with all the human lives also snuffed out. Many of us watched in horror on TV as the destruction continued. We watched the people trying to escape the burning inferno with looks of fear and terror on their faces. This feeling of fear and terror resulted from the destruction hovering over our nation. It has been described as an act of pure evil. Evil joined with fear and terror to try to destroy our nation. But the United States of America revealed to the world what had made us a great nation all through history -- UNITY and FAITH. We came together, we helped each other, we joined hands to conquer the hard times. We even went to church and turned to God. We mourned with those who had suffered a personal loss, even if we didn't know them. We celebrated the heroes who risked their lives to save others. We thought of others more than ourselves.
During the 19 years since then, those who did not lose a loved one seem to have forgotten how we made it through those difficult times. Today we face a fear that is trying to destroy us as a nation again, it seems that evil is lurking on every street corner with all the violence and difficulties in our country. The question that faces us today is how to deal with this fear and evil? David had something to say about this many years ago," I will fear no evil, for you are with me." It is still the only solution to the problem. We made it through 9/11 as well as many other difficult times of wars, illnesses, and problems. We can do it again with UNITY AND FAITH IN GOD.
EVIL HAS ALREADY BEEN DEFEATED
We often think that grief is only present when we have gone through the death of someone we knew or loved. But in reality, grief is present to some degree in everyday life. We all have losses: from lost jobs, divorce, a major illness, disasters like hurricanes, and fires, these can all cause us to experience a form of grief. So the important question is how do we deal with these often unexpected difficulties.
Like all things in life, our attitude will determine our response to a situation. If we recognize that grief is not a sign of weakness we are at the beginning of dealing with the issue. A time of loss or grief is not an exception in normal life, times of calm are the exceptions in our life. We can't avoid times of loss so perhaps we should try to prepare ourselves so when they come we know where to turn for help.
Building a foundation that will withstand the storms of life is important. Knowing where to find help in times of trouble is important. I like to go to a wise person for advice and this is no exception, when I look at what Soloman, the wisest man in the world, who says in 3:7 " Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths". Trust is a conscious decision we make, so if we have decided to trust God when the losses come we know where to turn for strength to make it another day. When the winds of life buffet you and seem like they are going to blow you away, remember the eagles who fly above the storm. Let the winds carry you through the loss not destroy you.
"Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
We use the word "hope" frequently ie: I hope it doesn't rain today. What we are saying that we have an anticipation of future things, a desire for something to happen (or not to happen). What are we hoping for, health, wealth, peace, an end to the current situation? Or do we think that our situation is hopeless?
I am reminded of Noah, a man who had very little reason to hope for the future. His name means comfort, but he was not comforted in his lifestyle. Think about it, he was on this boat with all those animals, just the sounds of them would have been disturbing, let alone the smells. As that vessel full of living creatures rocked and rolled on the sea, I wonder if Noah (or Mrs. Noah) ever got seasick or a feeling of hopelessness or desperation in their situation? Noah had hope for a better future or he would not have sent the dove out to search for land. Perhaps one morning he woke up miserable and a bit nauseous when God gave him the thought to send out that bird. After the first time he sent out a bird and it didn't come back he might have lost hope that he was ever going to get off that floating zoo. But he tried again. Just imagine that moment when Noah's hope turned into reality when that lone dove returned clenching a small single olive branch in its beak. Just a little spark of hope must have arisen in Noah, but it only takes a spark to start a fire burning.
What about us today, are we like Noah standing on the deck of that ark, looking at an endless sea with no end to our situation insight? We can have hope in the seemingly hopeless situations of life. We can have the same source of hope and faith Noah had.
David had that same hope too, he knew he could put his hope in God as he said in Psalm 71:5, "You are my hope, Lord God". In the painful seas of life, God can heal us and give us deep peace. Incidentally, olives and doves have been a sign of hope and peace since the days of Noah. Where is your olive branch, God has it ready to send you?
.In today's world, we don't see much reason for joy or laughter in others or our own lives. Some people have a smile on their face but it is only skin deep, (did you ever wonder what they were thinking about, like are they thinking I need to comb my hair but they won't say it, they just smile and go on). It may be difficult at times to have real joy, inner joy that comes from the heart when your whole world is crumbling around you.
Real joy is a conscious decision on our part, when we get up in the morning do we say "today I'm going to be happy." We can even decide before our feet hit the floor. Then throughout the day, we can look for things to be happy about. Have you ever seen a beautiful cloud in the sky, be happy about it being there just for you? How do we get this attitude of joy, Nehemiah 8:10 gives us the secret of real joy, "the joy of the Lord is my strength". The Lord gives us strength, strength to have joy even in difficult times. I learned a chorus that went "Jesus and Others and You spells joy". Maybe if we put Jesus first in our day and then help others, we could have the inner joy. Have a happy day.
Have you ever walked into a place like a movie theater where it was very dimly lite and then stumbled a bit before your eyes adjusted to the darkness? That is similar to what is happening in the world today. The whole world seems to be in a time of darkness and we all seem to be stumbling around. The opposite is true when we come out from someplace that is dark, our eyes (and brain) must adjust to the difference. Light and dark can not exist in the same place at the same time, that is a basic fact. If our lives are in the dark there can be no light in our life.
Sometimes we choose to concentrate on the dark rather than the light that is available. Have we become so accustomed to the dark that it is now comfortable? Just like at the movie theater, there is light just outside the door. Jesus is waiting to open the door to the light if we let Him. He has told us, "I am the light of the world, He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life". This is not a feeble, weak little flashlight kind of light but an all illuminating bright light for all of life.
Music is one of my most important passions in life. God created rhythm and harmony in the core of our being, our hearts beat in rhythm, even our breathing is in rhythm. All nature has a rhythm, seasons come and go, birds and crickets sing in a concert at the right time of year. Often God puts a song in my heart that just bubbles out of my mouth (sometimes even with the right words).
Singing praises to God is the key that opens the door to our emotional and physical well being. If you could ask Paul or Silas about singing praises to God, they would tell you that when chained to a guard in a horrible prison they were singing and praising God at midnight when the prison doors opened to allow them to go free. What about you, what prison is holding you captive: depression, fear, loneliness, or grief? Praising God in song (even if you can't carry a tune because the Psalmist says to "Make a joyful noise to the Lord") can open your prison doors too whatever it is. In 2 Chronicles 20:22 " When they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes … the people who came against Judah… were defeated". God honors our praising Him. In fact, I think He wants us to praise Him more, no matter what our circumstances are.
Psalm 13:6 " I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt. bountifully with me."
It seems that every time I turn on the TV these days someone is talking about the "cancel culture". Not being really up to date (according to my grandchildren, at least). I started to think about what that means. To me canceling is like canceling a hotel reservation and I am sure that is not what the TV people are referring to. So, I went to my trusty dictionary for answers, I like just the facts. I found that to cancel something is to "decide not to conduct something planned, without expectation of performing it later." And culture is defined as, "a way of life of a group of people, their outlook, values, and morals".
Since our American way is built on Judeo/Christian values and it sounds to me like some folks are trying to cancel our Christian morals and values permanently. There may be some things in this world they can cancel but they can not take away the joy and peace my faith in God gives me during this or any other troubled time. They can not cancel something that is eternal.. As David expressed it so many years ago, " Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations." Many years later a writer said it like this, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever".
So my conclusion is that no one can take away my joy and peace just because they say they can, God can not be canceled, but those people and their ideas can be canceled.
God made man (and women) and said "it was very good". Today a word we often hear used is "race". It seems that most everything is about race now. In my reading, I only find where God made one race – the human race. Doctors tell us when they operate on someone all people are basically the same inside, with heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. unless there is a health problem. God also created all people with skin cells called melanin. These are the cells that determine how dark your skin is or what color your eyes or hair will be. God gave some people more melanin than others and some people less than others.
My point is that God created all people to be equal in His sight. Perhaps every day we should all song the children's' chorus I learned as a little child.
"Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loved the little children of the world
(and the big children too).
May God grant us the love for each other that Jesus exhibited on earth, even to people who are different from us.
Scripture tells us when the children of Israel crossed the River Jordan during the exodus God instructed them to construct a monument of stones to commemorate the crossing from oppression to freedom. They were to instruct their children and future generations on the meaning of the monument. Teaching future generations about their history has been passed down from generation to generation for many years
In America, as we celebrate 244 years of freedom on this July 4, have we told our children what this monumental day really means? Do they think this is only a day for cookouts, parades, lake trips, and the sky that is a canvas for beautiful artwork of fireworks? Do they know about all those brave people who fought and often shed their blood so we could celebrate freely on this day.
Currently, our nation is having a time of crisis and multiple problems, however, we have had problems before and have overcome them with God's help. We are still the greatest nation on earth who can overcome these obstacles also. Due to the current situation, many celebrations have been canceled, but we CAN NOT nor SHOULD NOT cancel this important day in our country's history. So whether we are staying at home, or wearing our mask in crowds, or following the other safety precautions let us take time to wave the American flag proudly, sing "The Star-Spangled Banner", and thank God for giving us "one nation under God".
It seems that at our present time when we turn on the TV (or any other media) that all we hear is gloom and doom. If it isn’t the virus death rate it’s the violence destruction and mayhem. It is very depressing and sad. I am the kind of person who likes to have my windows open at my house. This morning as I lay in bed debating which eye to open first, there was a symphony of birds singing outside my window. They didn't know about viruses or seem to care about the violence and problems. They didn't seem to care about anything except singing their beautiful song for me. That reminds me of some wise words"Look to the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" It seems that critters are wiser than people sometimes. Perhaps we should take a lesson from them and instead of worrying about the state of current affairs, just go singing through our day.
“The Robin and the Sparrow"
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”