Why do you think happens when you go through the most difficult trials which come into your life? Doesn't it seem logical to think that once you get to a certain point in your own existence, after all the pain you have already suffered, the trials should possibly subside? Maybe even to consider you have now "paid your dues" and its time you should be able to have a happy life and more worry free?
Why is that our worlds often collide with peace, seem aggravated and filled with conflict, tribulation, distress, famine, nakedness, peril and sword? In Romans, the Apostle Paul addresses this very issue talking about how we can all be more than conquerors through Him that loves us. The writer is reminding us that when trials come, and they will come, there is a hope and a future in the midst of them. You can read Romans 8 and find out.
Last night, there was a bastion of negativity which filled my home seemingly coming out of nowhere. What started out as a normal evening simply escalated into a frenzied, 9-11 kind of experience with multiple parties in real crisis in several states. Within a few minutes, a teenager facing an attempted suicide was in peril as his mother was sleeping in his home. The emotional weight of life, school, of the relationships he had grown close to, of the life of his pet being over, ushered his spirit into a place of depression not seen since his father passed two years ago. This last semester of his high school year collapsed and he reached out in a cry for desperation, to our family.
Its the worst possible situation when you are dealing with a potential suicide victim as there are triggers, flags and signs you have to pay attention to immediately. There has to be people who surround this individual with love and care, professional help/counseling, possible interventions and more. This is not an easy "fix", but a long term and potentially chronic problem which has to be faced with purpose, precision and understanding.
In the middle of this crisis, one of the precious Veritas 300 prayer warriors who has drawn close to our V family was losing a grandfather which had been terminally ill for the last couple weeks. The Lord miraculously used her ears to hear the voice of God and tell her grandmother that within ten minutes, her grandfather was going to pass away. This happened just as God had imparted this truth into her heart literally by a ringing in her ears. She fortunately acted on the sounds and knowledge of truth, and told her grandmother to go to him as he transitioned into the after life. Did you know it happened exactly like this too. She called and we prayed over the phone together and in the midst of tears, we all knew this had been a miracle.
Stage four cancer has been looming on a close pastor friend of mine who baptized me when I was five years old. A man who has planted churches and ministered for over fifty years is facing one of the greatest health challenges of his life and we have been asked to pray. We are interceding for his life and asking others to go to their knees praying for this mentor and wonderful man of God. The future is unclear and all he wants is to live longer so he can help serve others and continue to minister to hurting people. Can you imagine how unselfish this is, to focus on helping others when you are in a crisis. He wasn't saying this out of anything, but real love and devotion to his flock.
These are all amazing and very good people, coming from good families and yet, there is crisis, trials and burdens which are almost overwhelming. What if they all gave up, threw in the towel and called it "over". On the sidelines we have a group of people who say, "I am just too busy and have too much on my plate right now to get involved. In fact, I have my own financial problems and things I need help on, so let somebody else reach out to them." Others might think, "I am sad for them but there is nothing I can really do".
Some people could act like Job's friends and just come over to the house and say, "Well, you had it coming" and even be judgmental. This is why the Bible talks more about the punishment of judging others than it talks about the punishment for murder. Do you realize how horrible it is to be critical of others? Lets face it, Christians are sometimes the worst at this and it breaks my heart. Somebody goes through something, and the "spiritually elite" come out like Pharisees and act the same way. Anybody know good people like this...
It doesn't matter that Christ said, "When you have done this unto the least of these my brethren, you have done this unto me.". He knew the power of mercy and grace filled with compassion. Jesus would minister to the point of exhaustion and literally would often have to go away by himself to pray, to find rest and peace in the midsts of so many storms around him. Even in the boat as he slept, the disciples woke him up in a panic and said, "Help, we are in trouble, we are in a huge storm and we don't know what to do, we may die!" Christ woke up, came outside and told the sea to be still.
Doctors told our family it was time to take my father of the ventilator and to gather my sons and family around him to say goodbye. He was not responding and from all the medical evidence, he was going to die. Our pastor Mark Hartman showed up right before this happened. Here is what he said, "Kevin, family I want all of you to come in close. Mac is not going to die today. He is going to live. He is not going to get better from this point forward and he is going to walk out of this hospital and he is going to come to church and worship with us again. We reject this truth which has been spoken to us by the professionals on the name of Jesus Christ." Two weeks later, my father came home and he has lived for almost twenty more years now and is still going.
Most of the miracles Christ performed came because he was interrupted. A great man of faith shared with me about his book called, "God's little interruptions" and they bring a huge case to the forefront that miracles like those turning water into wine at the feast of Canaan, the miracle of the woman who touched the garment of Christ and He said, "Who touched me" and the list goes on and on of how God's son was interrupted in order that a miracle might happen.
So here is my question, "How do we take those interruptions?" How do you respond when people are in need and are you proactively ready to build in time into your schedule for these kinds of interruptions? Do you have too much going on to be interrupted or too self absorbed...well, I sure am.
You read this right, I am way too busy to get involved. (This used to be my standard answer as a very young man.)
I have way too many things on my plate, there are way to many complications already and there is no way I have time to invest in others. My own ego throughout life of being "self absorbed" has taken me the opposite way of serving and like a Jonah, I have wanted to run from my troubles, hide from my trials and deceive everyone into thinking everything in life was perfect, when it wasn't. Years ago, at Council Road I began to see the power of what it mean to minister to others and it changed my life.
You can decide when life changes on so many levels. I started being honest and living in transparency, in a light of truth where I could not hide the underbelly of my own ego and it came with an understanding of real service. The self imposed "victim" was put to rest and my own confession of sin, cleansed my heart and purified my soul. It did not mean I was sinless, but I would sin less. You see, I began to see the hurts of others more than my own pain. It was truly a revealing and freedom based group of actions to begin to see so many people around my world who were really in trouble. This never stopped my storms, but it caused me to see something greater on the horizon.
We made a movie not long ago called THROUGH THE VALLEY and the ethos of the film takes audiences into a place of real revealed truth because of William Mwizerwa's words. How far would you go to save your family? What would you do to begin focusing on others and see your pain. There are times when pain is enormous and while difficult, your pain is not as burdensome as what others might have to face!
You see, God knows your pain and He promises you He will always be there for you, but He doesn't promise you that your pain will stop, your trials will cease and that everything will always be "a bed of roses". I wish it were that easy, but its really not.
When Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", he was sharing an insight inspired by God Himself to rely upon His Son's grace, mercy and love. This is THE answer to your life and to your future and to every trial which is coming your way. You can quote this Word in the scripture when you are facing something huge. You can smile in the midst of the worst storm and find peace when it doesn't even make sense.
Our bottom line here.... is nothing you are going through, He doesn't fully understand.
Hopefully you are letting this sink in as I am trying to do the same. HE HAS ALREADY KNOWN YOUR PAIN! I don't know of anyone who has known exactly what I have been through, but I do believe God's Son knows it all. There is a comfort in knowing we are not alone in this universe and it goes way past the film's goofy message of the recent movie, INTERSTELLAR into a fifth, sixth or even seventh dimension. This is the reality of God's love.
Lets put us into a higher perspective and I believe it will help us all. Years ago, a famous pastor named Joel Gregory was preaching and he said something which blew my mind and I never forgot this analogy. He said, if you blow up an atom, the size of a tennis ball and then you multiply how many atoms are in the human body, you would find a man large enough to hold the entire universe in the palm of his hand. WOW! This is a perspective of how BIG God really is and yet, He sent His son, to become a man, to live through pain, who would know and really hear our prayers, listens to our hurts, loves us and cares about each and every one of us.
Whatever you are going through today and for whatever you are facing for tomorrow, HE is there. I might not be there because I am pretty selfish. I may have too much to do. I might need to fall on my face and surrender again, which is what it means to "die to self" each and every day, every hour, every moment. This is why I fail Him so much because its just plain hard to do. Just because you know God, doesn't mean you have it together all the time. Be real, be in touch with your Father in Heaven and learn the power of interceding for others. Don't focus on yourself as much as giving your life away.
When we want to say, NOT ANOTHER STORM, we should remember the storm did not come by surprise, others are going through worst storms and God has gone through them all! The Bible says, "Be anxious about nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication give thanks". Life can be better, the storms are going to come and keep coming, sorry. However, God is with us when we go through them, even when others turn their back. Whatever your storm is circling around you, its only going to subside. Lets calm the storm and speak peace to..."Be Still".
I love you,
Kevin McAfee is a film maker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God using the visual language of film. His blog is shared in hopes of impacting culture, but his heart is in media missions and the church.