Tag Archives: Lord

Matters Faith

Matters faith

In my opinion, when it comes to matters faith, there are basically two categories of believers, who can further be grouped into four other sub groups:-

  1. The suffering believers
  2. The content believers

The suffering believers are fundamentally those who are immersed in unimaginable perils or typical glitches that could be feeling a little weighty at the moment. They can be divided into two:

  •  those who drift further away from God because they believe He abandoned them and that’s why they’re suffering;
  •  then of course there are those who trust God more at that time because they put their faith in Him to find a way out of their problems.

The content believers are those who are satisfied with the current state of affairs. They can be divided into two:

  • those who drift away from God when they are happy because they are in that bubble of bliss, which bursts eventually and it’s only then that they realize that they can never live without God; think the prodigal son…
  •  then again there are those who get closer to God at this time because they believe it’s only by God’s mercy that they have been able to enjoy the good moments in their life.

Point is, whether we’re struggling beneath the weight of overwhelming miseries, or are in a place in life where we feel life couldn’t be better, the situation we’re in, whether good or bad could determine the relationship we have with God. And it’s a choice we make…

Sometimes when life is too good we drift further and further from God, when we’re too caught up chasing the pleasures of life. One wakes up in the morning but because they are in good health and have servants at their every beck and call and money to indulge their every whim, they forget to say thank you for it all.

Truth is, we don’t always have to present ourselves before God when we need favours from Him. It’s only right that when He grants us our desires we thank Him; and even for those irking situations, because if we remain positive, we’ll see the good in those painful moments.

Unfortunately, our sinful human nature deters us from doing so. More often than not, I have heard a sick person say they can’t wait to get better because in more ways than one, the illness is curtailing their lives in ways so unimaginable.

When they recuperate, they realize that being healthy is not something that should be taken for granted. Looking at it from that perspective, I believe that while the majority of us might hate being in less desirable situations in life, we can choose to look at it from the ‘glass-is-half-full’ perspective: it’s only when we’re freezing during the chilly weather that we realize how much we need the sun; and when the sun’s blistering hot and we can’t stop whining, that’s when we realize we need the rain; we momentarily forget how much we detest mud.

In short, unpleasant situations in life make us appreciate the really good moments. As it is though, in life nothing is constant. Today someone is seated at the helm of a prestigious company; next thing you know they’re church-mouse poor because the company was declared bankrupt;

or maybe one is so healthy today, and tomorrow they’re moving from one doctor to another hoping to get a different diagnosis because they’ve recently discovered they’re suffering from a chronic illness. Such is life; no one knows what the next minute holds.

One thing I know though, is that the God who was there before those who came and went before us, is the same one who still reigns. He makes the earth rotate in its axis, clothes the ground with beautiful greenery and flowers.

If one is in a situation where they are struggling, they should remember the same God who provided for them before is still the one who reigns and will therefore grant them their heart’s desires when the time is right. So one shouldn’t let despair get the better of them.

If on the other hand one is feeling really blessed because for some glorious reason everything is falling into place, they should remember to hold on to God, because He who gave them all that gladdens their heart could take it all back if He deemed it fit; say when someone becomes too arrogant because their bank accounts are bursting at the seams and they could buy anything money can get them, so the need to be humble escapes them.

Whatever stage we’re in, we should remember nothing in life is constant; and as the cliché goes, ‘life is full of surprises’. What we need to always remember though, is that God never changes; and neither do His ways. If we don’t have what we need today, it’s not because He hates us. And when humility feels like a needless task because we have everything we could possibly want, we should remember that tomorrow could be a very different day.

Either way, we need God. When we’re happy, we should thank God and remember to treat everyone else with kindness. We shouldn’t wait for life to deal us tragic blows for us to grasp the whole concept of humility; and if we don’t have, we shouldn’t be bitter, despising all those who are blessed, because when our time comes, God will bless us too.

How to be happy

Smiley face

Yesterday being the third Sunday of Advent was Gaudete Sunday. It’s the Latin word for rejoice.  Christian’s all over the world are rejoicing because Christmas is drawing near. The Lord is near; Christ’s about to be born. From a deeper perspective though, Christ’s second coming is nearer than when we first believed.

The world is filled with many problems. It’s almost impossible for a day to pass by without one feeling like something is wrong; like one needs to achieve something so they can be happy. Well, sad thing is, it’s impossible to have everything perfect in life. That’s just the way things are. Good news is, we can be happy everytime, if we will it. During mass, in the spirit of rejoicing, the priest shared a few tips on how to be happy that I felt I should share.

To be happy (in no particular order), one needs to:

Think happy; our thoughts determine how we perceive things. Adopt a positive mentality when handling situations.

Rejoice in those small things; as petty as they seem/feel.

Let go off grudges; grudges dampen our mood; they hinder us from seeing the good in others and they make us bitter.

Let go off the past; how does one move on if they can’t forget what happened in their past? Holding on to the past only prevents us from seeing the beauty of the present.

See the goodness in people; sometimes we feel inclined to focus on other people’s negative sides, and as a result that makes us negative. It’s easier to see the bad in people, but if we tried just a little harder, we would see the good in them. I believe even the worst person has something good in them; if you ask me, no one’s 100% bad.

Keep yourself busy; when one is busy they won’t have enough time to mope about the things happening in their life. Trying to be productive keeps one focused.

Don’t create problems; there are already too many problems in the world. Trying to imagine what could possibly go wrong when things are okay is just one of the biggest reasons people can’t fully be happy. If things are okay at the moment, be happy. Don’t be anxious about the future. You’ll cross that bridge when you get there.

Help others- those in need. You’d be surprised how good it feels to know you helped someone else get over some difficulty-big/small.

Don’t take life too seriously; remember to smile. When you smile the whole world smiles with you. It’s referred to as the ‘law of attraction’.

Don’t try to be like your neighbour. God blesses each one of us differently, in His own special way and at His own appointed time. Sometimes we fail to realize it, but when we try so hard to compete with others, we only end up feeling dissatisfied with what we have.

Be happy, won’t you?

 

Christ The King

Christ The King

Today we were celebrating the feast of Christ The King. It marked the end of the ordinary church calendar. That means next Sunday God willing will be the first Sunday of Advent; when we start preparing for the birth of Christ. It’s still hard to believe Christmas is just days away. If you ask me, the year has flown by. Today also marked the official close of the year of faith. It might not sound appropriate that I judge myself, but I feel I’ve learnt a lot-pertaining to matters faith-this past year.

As I listened to the priest giving the homily, he gave me a lot to reflect on.

He said many people leave the church because they don’t understand the whole concept of faith. Many churches preach about prosperity, but that’s not all there is to faith. If someone tells you to run away from your problems, that is not faith. It’s cowardice. True faith is about embracing those problems we encounter, because it’s only by facing them that we find our strength.

Jesus was a king, long before He died on the cross. But He, unlike other kings wasn’t all about money and wealth. Soldiers mockingly inscribed the letters INRI on the cross, which meant ‘The king of Jews’. When He was crucified on the cross with the two thieves, the one on his right didn’t understand what Jesus represented. He mocked him, but the other one on his left understood it all. He asked Jesus to remember him when He went into His kingdom (Luke 23:35-43).

In His open arms, nailed to the cross, He embraced everyone who came to Him, without discrimination. He was-still is- the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, yet He agreed to die a shameful death, crucified on the cross, naked. He had the power to punish all those who tortured and killed Him, but instead He forgave them. He is love and kindness embodied. According to my Christian faith, those who killed him already died because this happened years ago, and I’m imagining that it was only in death that they understood that Jesus was indeed a King. His kingdom will still be in existence even when this earthly world is no more.

He conquered death, therefore giving us hope that death is not the end, but the beginning of something more beautiful. If He could conquer death, there’s nothing else that He can’t. Bearing this in mind, we should take our fears to Him; entrust Him with our lives. He can help us conquer even the most impossible of issues. Some people have been debilitated by their own fears. They live each day, afraid that someone they are at odds with could annihilate them.

I know it sounds cliché, but Jesus Christ is the answer. It’s all about believing that He can help us overcome even the greatest obstacle. And the good thing is, when one entrusts his/her life to Him, He never fails them. He didn’t promise we wouldn’t have crosses to carry, but He did promise to help us carry them. Suffering is an integral part of a Christian’s life; however, the suffering isn’t meant to destroy us, but to strengthen us.

When concluding his homily the priest asked, “Is Christ the King of your heart? If not, why isn’t He?”

 

Lord, protect me from my friends

“Lord, protect me from my friends, because I know who my enemies are.”

This is a prayer I see people post a lot on social media. It makes so much sense. We all know who our enemies are, but with all the beautiful masks our ‘friends’ hide behind, it becomes difficult to tell the real friends from the fake ones; most of the people we regard as friends are just wolves masquerading as sheep (pardon me for the expression; I just thought it perfectly describes frenemies).

Naturally, friends come in different sizes and colours; it just becomes difficult to tell who’s real and who’s not. Some friends will only stick around when everything’s okay, but the instant things start going downhill, they start vanishing one by one, as if by magic. At the end of the day one finds themselves alone, without a shoulder to lean on.

It’s during these low moments in our lives that we get to really know who our real friends are…that’s what I used to think, until I realized there’s another bunch of friends, who delight at other people’s woes. They seem helpful when one is going through that dark phase. If one is hungry, they’ll be more than happy to offer them food. We love them more, because they stood by us when everything had gone awry, when everyone else ditched us.

Again, it becomes difficult to tell the fake from the real friends, because some of these friends who stay with us during the storm disappear as soon as it abates. I never understood it as a child; I thought everyone who sticks around during tough times automatically passes the true friend test. It’s only now, when I’m all grown that it’s all starting to look different from what I’d perceived earlier.

Apparently, not all friends delight at one’s success; it sounds somewhat evil when I say it, but it’s as true as the sky is blue. These are those friends who only like it when they are helping with temporary things, but hate it when someone finds a long term solution to their problem. They’ll be so quick to let one hitch a ride with them, but when one buys their own car they vanish, and when one bumps into them occasionally on the streets they’ll be in a foul mood, even though they try to hide it behind a plastic smile.

They just like to see someone dependent on them; I guess knowing someone is entirely at their mercy gives them some false feeling of power…so they know if they want to hurt/frustrate you they’ll just withhold the aid.

Then there are those friends who act all sweet and loving in one’s presence, but the minute they get out of one’s sight they spread all kinds of malicious gossip. They will snatch one’s boyfriend; go behind them so one loses that promotion at work.

The worst thing about these fake friends- frenemies if you rather- is that we allow them into our inner circles, so they know us inside out; they know our Achilles’ heels, so it becomes easy for them to carry out whatever evil schemes they have up their sleeves.

As a kid, I was really trusting; I thought people who were good to me were my friends, but in these few years I’ve lived, relatively speaking, I’ve gotten my fair share of fake friends, who’ve turned me into a real skeptic. I’ve learned to be wary. I know they could show their fangs anytime.So even though I smile at them, at the back of my head I know I should be on my guard.

When it comes to the business of making friends, I know not everyone who smiles at me is my friend, and not everyone who scowls at me is my enemy; it could just be because they’re offended by something I did. I know that sometimes the people we consider our closest friends could be our greatest enemies. It’s just that time reveals them when the damage has been done, unfortunately.

fake friends

Take it to the Lord in prayer

When you feel like things are seriously going out of hand, just look heavenwards; God has the solution to all your problems. Of the things I’m quite familiar with, anxiety probably tops the list because it’s there when I’m asleep, in my dreams (some of them), it walks with me everywhere I go…anxiety is like my shadow. When I’m making decisions I feel anxious thoughts creeping up on me…I just find it unnerving. However with my anxiety came a good thing; it made me so aware of God’s presence, in my life, in the air around me…He’s everywhere.

So while anxiety torments me dreadfully, I find comfort in God. Recently, this song came to mind; mom was going through some difficult moment at work and when I saw how troubled she seemed, I realized I couldn’t help her personally, but from experience I knew God would; so I told her to take it all to the Lord in prayer. Those words reminded me of the ‘What a friend we have in Jesus song, and as I sang it I pondered on each word; I found it immensely comforting.

What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear,

What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer,

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry,

Everything to God in prayer.

When I read those lyrics, word for word, I saw many people; myself included; people who worry through their troubles instead of taking everything to God in prayer. We forfeit peace when we worry, because worrying leads to more worrying. We bear needless pain, because sometimes, caught up in the situation, it just doesn’t occur to us that God is there to help us; that each one of us has the privilege to take his/her worries to Him in prayer.

To most of us, worrying comes almost naturally. Take me for instance; when there’s something going on in my life, the first thing that happens is worrying. ‘What will happen now? What if…’ it’s in the midst of worrying that I remind myself to call on God.

I realized there are so many people struggling with anxiety. If I say I found something that keeps my anxiety in check, one would expect it would be some medical relief; I tried that at some point but the thing with such medication is that when it runs out one finds themselves in the same old place; worrying incessantly.

I needed a long term relief.

From experience, I’ve learned that the best way to deal with anxiety is to seek God’s help; trust that He will come through for you. It also helps to take part in things that make one happy; it’s only by embracing happiness that we can be in that perfect state of mind to know what God really wants us to do; what’s really right. During anxious moments, very little seems to put one at ease; that’s why it’s imperative for one to hold on to that thing, however small, that makes them happy…and above all, to trust in God.

take it to the Lord in prayer

 

“I will never forget their evil deeds!”

Listen to this, you that trample on the needy and try to destroy the poor of the country. You say to yourselves, “We can hardly wait for the holy days to be over so that we can sell our grain. When will the Sabbath end, so that we can start selling grain? Then we can overcharge, use false measures, and fix the scales to cheat our customers. We can sell worthless wheat at a high price. We’ll find a poor man who can’t pay his debts, not even the price of a pair of sandals, and we’ll buy him as a slave.”

The Lord, the God of Israel, has sworn, “I will never forget their evil deeds.” (Amos 8: 4-7).

In the society we live today, the needy are trampled on by the powerful; those who are in high authority, and the massively wealthy. A needy person sues a wealthy person, say because they were forcefully evicted from their home…but somehow at the end of the day, they’re not given justice, simply because money exchanged hands behind the scenes. Justice seems to favour those in power.

A needy person rushes their loved one to hospital, urgently in need of medical attention, but they watch painfully as their loved one breathes their last, simply because the doctors couldn’t attend to them because they couldn’t pay for their services in advance. It sounds despicable when I think about it, but that’s the world we live in today. The needy survive only at the mercy of the rich; those in power.

Retailers and wholesalers hoard goods, waiting for prices to go up, so they can sell them at exorbitant prices, so those who can’t afford it go to bed hungry. An aggrieved woman goes to report a crime at the police precinct; the same officer she expects to protect her takes advantage of her. Who will she turn to? College Professors fail their students, because they refuse to trade in ‘favours’… Who will protect these students?

The law of the land seems to favour the wealthy, making the needy spend sleepless nights, trying to comprehend how life could be so cruel. Who will defend them, if those who’ve been put in place to protect them are the same ones making their lives impossible? God says He will. He has vowed not to forget the evil deeds of their oppressors.

God defends the weak

One thing I’ve learned over time is that, not all wealthy people/those in power are evil, and not all poor/needy people are good. For instance, I was reading this blog post about a popular media personality who died a few days ago in a terrorist attack, and someone had commented, ‘the rich also cry.’ I found it inhumane. How could someone say something so vindictive, when people were grieving? I’ve met needy people, who resent the wealthy for no apparent reason; needy people who are extremely spiteful, and I’ve also met people in power who are kind; people who don’t hesitate to share their wealth with the poor.

God says He will defend those who are wrongfully hurt; those who cry because they have no one to defend them. God will avenge them.

Walk with me

Walk with me

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know my steps won’t falter.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll make the right choices.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll get to my destination safe.

Walk with me my Lord; it’s the only way I know I’ll finally get to spend forever by your side.

Anxiety could be exhausting; it is actually exhausting. I wake up one morning, I’m doing something I feel is right, then the next day I’m not sure it’s right. Currently I’m in a phase where I feel the choices I make now will impact my future greatly; I’m at a crossroads, trying to decide what I should give first priority between my career that I’ve always dreamed about, and my hobby that I’m seriously in love with. I’ve been in this phase for a while now.

I realize it’s possible for me to actually do both eventually but for the moment I need to do one at a time. It’s difficult trying to choose between two things I love; plus there’s the other concern, if what I want to do is aligned with God’s will. It doesn’t feel like a good place to be at; the uncertainty is just overwhelming.

When I was saying my morning prayers today, the prayer (in italics) came to mind, and as I said it, I felt a calming wave engulf me. I share it with you because I know there are so many sailing in the same boat as I; it could be frustrating trying to make choices, but I do believe if we let God guide us, if He walks with us, leading us by the hand, we will make it through.

Humility

Humility

“My son, perform your tasks in meekness, then you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself. So you will find favour with God. There are many who are noble and renowned, but it’s only to the humble that He reveals His mysteries. For great is the might of the Lord; he is glorified by the humble. The affliction of the proud has no healing, for a plant of wickedness has taken root in them, though it will not be perceived. The mind of the wise man will ponder the words of the wise, and an attentive ear is the wise man’s desire.” (Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29).

This bible verses emphasize on the need to be humble. Jesus is the widely acclaimed King of Kings, yet He mingled with thieves, wasn’t afraid to interact with people who had been shunned by their communities, e.g. those suffering from Leprosy as it was a highly contagious disease… I wouldn’t be able to exploit the endless list of things He did, which most people wouldn’t do if they wielded so much power.

In today’s setting, power and fame are associated with cruelty, greed, misuse of power…all the vices one can think of. As Christians, we are called to look up to The Man of Sorrows. He washed His disciples’ feet, when they should have been washing His. He did that to set an example; that the master should treat his subjects with humility; that he should serve them.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in situations we wouldn’t want to be in, but those are some of the moments life gives us to be able to reflect on the essence of humanity. When we fail to learn from them, we sink even deeper into the abyss. It is said, that when one finds themselves on their knees-when life feels impossible; when it knocks them down- one is in the best position to pray.

Humility is a virtue which should be practiced by everyone, irrespective of the title one holds. I often wonder, why is it that people who lead/led saintly lives like Mother Teresa, are people from humble backgrounds? Does it mean that it’s impossible for one to be powerful/rich and still practice humility?

I realized people have grown accustomed to seeing leaders/celebrities act with so much derision, so that when one of them does something noble it’s regarded with suspicion. Is it seriously that hard for one to wield so much power and still treat others like fellow human beings? Without discrimination or scorn? Jesus had the power to give life; He is the life, but that never made Him arrogant.

Christ teaches us to serve those under us; to serve others, without expecting anything in return, because then we earn God’s favour, which is greater than anything on earth.

In Matthew 5: 5, when Jesus was giving the sermon on the mountain, where He gave the beatitudes, He said, “Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised.” This just shows how much God Values humility.

FOLLOWING CHRIST

Jesus

One of the basic lessons I learnt when I was growing up is that Jesus always preached in parables: it wasn’t for naught that He was referred to as Rabbi-teacher. Sometimes I would read a few verses and realize that I hadn’t grasped the concept…sometimes I would even feel afraid… (Sometimes it happens when one peruses through the enlightening chapters without an open mind). The book of Revelations, especially, does that to me a lot; there’s nothing pleasant about the end times… I didn’t want to feel that-afraid- so I learnt to read the Bible like I would a novel or poetry; always seeking to find the deeper meaning.

Apparently that worked; with it came a deeper understanding of the scriptures.

In church, this past Sunday, the readings were just the perfect examples of those verses that have so much meaning behind them. I thought it would be nice to share them; maybe then I’ll help someone else understand them:

1 kings 19: 16, 19-21 In those days the Lord said to Elijah, “Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place”. So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was ploughing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah took off his cloak and put it on Elisha. Elisha then left his oxen, ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother goodbye and I will go with you”. Elijah answered, “All right, go back I’m not stopping you!” Then Elisha went to his team of oxen, killed them and cooked the meat, using the yoke as fuel for the fire. He gave the meat to the people and they ate it. Then he went and followed Elijah as his helper.

Personally, when I read a particular verse, questions pop in my head. For instance, when I was reading this particular verse, I wondered, why Elijah would forbid Elisha from bidding his folks adieu? He- Elijah-was just implying that Elisha had to come back because by draping his cloak over him he had done a very significant gesture; he therefore had to follow him whatsoever. Thankfully Elisha managed to go back and settle things before he followed Elijah…

Once I went to school without hugging my mom goodbye; it wasn’t something planned; it just happened that she went to get me some stuff I had forgotten to buy while shopping the previous day as we waited for the bus to fill up with passengers. I had only realized it when I was in the bus. While still waiting for my mom to come back, the driver ignited the engine when all the seats were occupied, and before I knew it, we were on the road…headed for school. It would be a month and a half before I saw her again, on visiting day.

The feeling that washed over me was so intense…as the bus pulled out from the bus stop, onto the main road, I kept looking back frantically, hoping to spot my mom appearing from the crowds… thank God she didn’t, because at that time I was so sure I would jump out through the window if I did…

My heart paced madly, I was breathing fast…and I felt nauseous as my abdominal muscles tightened…it felt really bad… I got over it weeks later, and even though I was only eleven at the time, to date I consider it my worst opening day. So as I read about Elisha’s anointment, I imagined that’s how he felt… almost… Elijah was asking him to up and leave, without so much as a word to his parents…

But then the priest went on to explain: it was all symbolic; the parents and the oxen symbolize the things in life that prevent us from following Christ; the people we love, wealth… that is why Elisha ended up slaughtering his oxen and subsequently giving the people; he didn’t want anything holding him back…

In Genesis 19:26 When God rescued Lot and his family, from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, He instructed them not to look back; but Lot’s wife defied Him and looked back at the cities that were up in flames. She turned into a pillar of salt. Basically, this emphasizes on following Christ without looking back.

Not everyone is a farmer, so that definitely means we don’t all own oxen…but each one of us has that precise thing that stops him/her from surrendering his all to God. Whatever it is, one  must give it up in order to follow Christ.

In the verse below, we’re shown further what Jesus felt about people who felt they had matters to attend to before following Him…

Luke 9:57-62 As they were going along the road, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go”. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests: but the son of man has nowhere to lay His head. To another He said, “Follow me”. But he said, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. But He said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home”. Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”.

One would wonder, why wouldn’t He allow the man to go bury his father; to pay him the final respects? Why wouldn’t He allow the other to say goodbye to his family? But then, what Jesus is trying to emphasize here is that if one wants to be His follower, they must be willing to give up everything for His sake…one must give Him first priority.

It sounds like a herculean task, one might think? Personally, I realized that it’s actually the other way round; when one puts God first, things feel simplified. One can’t afford to worry about their problems because their faith gives them the courage to believe that in due time He will help them out.

He will feed them, clothe them, put a roof over their heads, and one won’t have to stress about it…like the birds; they don’t have food stocked up in refrigerators, but they eat… they don’t pay mortgage, but they survive through the rain, the blistering sun, the chilly nights…and when dawn breaks we see them up in the sky, flying…  He takes care of them…

It’s all about faith; believing that He can make everything right; that He can offload the weighty burden on our shoulders, if we let Him. And He doesn’t imply that we should all be men & women of the cloth, no… all He asks is that we put Him first in our lives.