Tag Archives: my life with God

Heal the World

“I love you!” Pretty much each one of us has uttered these words at some point in our lives. Question is, how many of us actually understand what these words mean?

The world is ailing… and the way I see it, love can at the very least, assuage the pangs of the maladies afflicting us. In 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8 Paul says, “I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.

I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains, but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned, but if I have no love, this does me no good”.

So question is, what is love? Paul tells us, “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud. Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal”.

Hypothetically, if this is the general standard of love, how many of us have loved for real? For the most part, majority of us do the complete opposite of what love entails. We are impatient and unkind; always envious of others who seem to be better than us in one way of the other; those who are in positions of power/authority act all high and mighty, oppressing their juniors and all…

Furthermore, majority of those in power are living by the mantra, “It’s my turn to eat!” Sadly, this egotistical attitude has turned those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the hoi polloi into self-centred maniacs. Instead of looking out for those in need, they are embezzling funds meant for vital functions like acquisition of live-saving medication; and, locking out qualified people from employment positions in favour of their kin; nepotism at its best.

More often than not, we hold grudges against those who wrong us. We keep a record of their wrongs. The way I see it, most of the wars going on around the world would cease if the warring parties could just forgive each other and call a truce. Again it all boils down to love.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this Covid-19 pandemic has exposed some of our worst weaknesses. The frustrations attributed to Covid have made us relatively myopic. We only think about how we can solve our own problems, without taking a moment to consider how our actions/omissions affect others.

When the different Covid-19 vaccines were declared safe for use and effective against the corona virus, one of the emerging issues of concern was the corruption that could possibly arise from the vaccine distribution. Furthermore, some unscrupulous people have been accused of embezzling funds set aside for tackling the pandemic. Ergo, my concern is, why would anyone want to hoard money and medication meant to save people’s lives? Does such a person grasp what love is?

The two biggest commandments are to love God above all things, and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Since not everyone is affiliated with religion I’ll refer to the legal definition of neighbour, seeing as love is just a natural inclination we have towards others by virtue of being human, whether we believe in God or not. In that regard, in law, our neighbours are those people who are so closely and directly affected by our acts and/or omissions, that we reasonably ought to have them in mind when conducting our daily affairs.

If we work with that definition, then we have numerous neighbours, because this definition doesn’t just mean our next-door neighbours. In essence, this means if I’m driving, my neighbours are all the pedestrians and drivers along the roads I use; the ones who could potentially get injured if I drove recklessly. If I own a manufacturing company, my neighbours are all the consumers of my products, whether I know them or not. See how numerous our neighbours are?

In light of this, if we are supposed to love our neighbours as we love ourselves; or as the law provides, we should avoid acts/omissions which we can reasonably foresee could harm our neighbours, then we owe that duty of care to very many people. Seeing as there are so many wrong things going on in the world, just imagine, how different the world would be if we applied the aforementioned concept of love, to all our neighbours…

That said, there are numerous things we cannot instantly change, but if we choose to actually love our neighbours, the world will gradually start to heal. If we truly love our neighbours, those in authority won’t hoard Covid-19 vaccines, medical equipment and protective gear, waiting for demand to substantially increase, so the prices can be hiked exorbitantly…

If we love our neighbours, those fuelling wars will realise very many innocent people have unnecessarily and unjustly become collateral damage… If we love our neighbours, we won’t go cutting down trees, because we know the dire impact that will have on the climate, and consequently, future generations.

In addition, employers will not dismiss their employees arbitrarily, callously feigning hardships occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic; because, while this could actually be the case, there are better empathetic ways of letting go of employees.

Therefore, like I said, love heals, and as it is, our world desperately needs healing. Million dollar question is, are we ready to love our neighbours? Are we ready to give love a chance?

The bigger the test, the greater the reward

The test is proportional to the task, and the bigger the test, the greater the reward. Recently in church, we had a sermon based on Abraham’s test to sacrifice his only son. This was God’s way of testing Abraham’s faith. In case anyone’s wondering why that was such a huge deal, Abraham and his wife Sarah were very old when God blessed them with their son, Isaac.

The thought of getting pregnant in her old age felt so absurd to Sarah, that she laughed when the Lord told Abraham she would have a son in nine months (Genesis 18: 10-15). When Sarah gave birth as the Lord had promised, Abraham was one hundred years old (Genesis 21: 1-7).

As it turned out, Abraham passed the test and in return, God blessed him with descendants who would be as many as the stars in the vast sky, or grains of sand along the seashore (Genesis 22: 17-18). This is a perfect illustration of, ‘The bigger the test, the greater the reward’.

There is also, the biblical story of a good man named Job. He suffered a colossal disaster trying to ward off the devil’s temptation to denounce God. His faith was greatly tested. He lost all his children and property, and the culmination of it all was him suffering from a repulsive disease. After his triumph, God blessed the last part of Job’s life, more than He did his first (Job 42: 12-16).

Again, this is a depiction of the great reward God gives those who are steadfast in faith. The truth is, we’re all being tested. Living is synonymous with tests of faith. There are these Way of The Cross reflections I usually meditate on during Lent, and over the years I feel I have learnt a great deal from them.

From the reflections, I have learnt that during Jesus’ passion on the Cross, He suffered, not because He had to really, but to encourage us when we find ourselves in different tribulations:

Reflection

My Jesus, even with the help of Simon You fell a third time. Were You telling me that there may be times in my life that I will fall again and again despite the help of friends and loved ones? There are times when the crosses You permit in my life are more than I can bear. It is as if all the sufferings of a life are suddenly compressed into the present moment and it is more than I can stand.

Though it grieves my heart to see You so weak and helpless, it is a comfort to my soul to know that You understand my sufferings from Your own experience. Your love for me made You want to experience every kind of pain just so I could have someone to look to for example and courage.

Prayer

When I cry out from the depths of my soul, “This suffering is more than I can bear.”

Do You whisper, “Yes, I understand”? When I’m discouraged after many falls, do You say in my innermost being, “keep going, I know how hard it is to rise”?

Reflection

I see injustice and am frustrated; and when my plan to alleviate it seems futile, I despair. When I see those burdened with poverty suffer ever more and cross is added to cross, my heart is far from serene. I utterly fail to see the dignity of the cross as it is carried with love. I would so much rather be without it.

Prayer

My worldly concept is that suffering, like food, should be shared equally. How ridiculous I am, dear Lord. Just as we do not all need the same amount of material food, neither do we need the same amount of spiritual food and that is what the cross is in my life, isn’t it? Spiritual food proportional to my needs. Amen.

The suffering is inevitable, so the trick is to look up to the ‘Man of sorrows’ for strength and consolation.

Good Friday is in the offing. While Covid-19 has redesigned how most of us celebrate Easter, we are still called upon to reflect on the Gospel, in relation to how we live. Our human nature makes us prone to sin, and God knows that. Nonetheless, every time we err, we need to ask God to give us that grace to repent and commit ourselves do doing what is right.

Like I have said severally, that is easier said than done. However, once we make that personal commitment to abstain from wrong, we will find the strength in us to do what is right. Even when things feel like they are spiralling out of control, we just need to master the strength to do what’s right and to trust in God. He will never fail us if we put our trust in Him.

Gift of hope

Whatever you do, no matter the circumstances, don’t lose hope. All other virtues are premised on this one and this is in the sense that desperation makes us do things we wouldn’t ordinarily do. Desperation makes good people do bad things. For instance, hunger could make a person steal if they do not have better means of obtaining food.

Love as we know it, also stems from hope…A person whose heart has been broken so many times will be afraid of falling in love again because they are afraid of going through the pain that’s already too familiar, if things go awry. On the contrary, where someone has hope, they will embrace a potential love because they are hopeful things will turn out fine.

When things are not going on as well as we may want, what keeps us going? It’s hope; hope of seeing better days. Lately I keep reading stories about people who have come so close to taking their own lives because they were suffering from depression. From my understanding, hopelessness is what triggers suicidal thoughts.

While I may not have gotten to that point where I felt the urge to end my own life, I have battled depression before and I know, only too well, the state someone is usually in…one finds themselves in a situation where no single thought triggers happiness…everything feels bleak, and wherever one tries to comfort themselves that the future will be better, all they see are misery-laden days.

When someone wakes up every morning, feeling like they have nothing else to live for, hopelessness engulfs them and the next thing that prevails over them is the thought of ending their own lives. Hope strengthens our spirit to fight through unpleasant situations.

In life we can’t always be on an upward scale, because failure and pain are just an inevitable part of life; and I bet, this is where the saying, ‘it’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times  you pick yourself up’ arises.

My maternal grandma passed on five years ago, and everytime I think about the months leading to her death, I usually suspect she died a depressed woman. A few months before she died, mom brought her home so we could take her to hospital. She had been unwell for a while and her two sons who she lived with upcountry seemed to have neglected her.

Moreover, the two had been fighting over the ownership of her land. Given how peace-loving grams was, I usually imagine those clashes between her sons sent her to an early grave. She abhorred violence and they wouldn’t resolve their disputes amicably. Sadly, when she fell into depression, they didn’t seem to notice.

When mom learnt she was sick, she went for her and brought her home. I loved her so much, and I even had the honour of being named after her. Looking at her, I could tell all was not well with her. Even while sitted next to her, I would get the impression she was miles away because she had this bleak stare. At night I would sit by her bedside, trying to give her examples of all the good things she could look forward to, so despair wouldn’t suck her into its dark abyss.

As days passed, she got better and she started insisting she wanted to go back home. We didn’t want her to go just yet, but we figured she was feeling disillusioned because she was in a foreign place. Since we wanted her to be happy we agreed to let her go. A few months later mom and I visited her at her place and shortly after, we heard she was sick again.

Before we knew it, she was gone! When she was well, she was very lively. So when I think of hopelessness, she comes to mind and I hate what it does to someone. The way I see it, though grams never jumped off a cliff or stood in front of an oncoming train, she died because she lost the will to live.

She didn’t have the strength to fight illnesses when they ravaged her frail body and eventually when death knocked, she just opened without putting up a fight. I usually feel she could have lived for many more years if she had been happy. Hope would have opened her eyes to the endless possibilities that the future held.

The worst part about depression is that it’s very easy for one to fall victim, yet it is relatively difficult to get out of. Hope is that priceless shield which protects us from falling into that chasm. When I’m feeling low, I remind myself of the Bible verse, which says, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, but with prayer and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God”.

From my own experiences, I know it’s very easy to lose hope; but one thing I’m learning, is to look up to the man of sorrows. Jesus would have despaired in life because He already knew the painful death He was going to be subjected to, yet He didn’t. Everytime we feel despair gnawing at us, we should ask Him to help us. Because we too can be victorious like He was.

 

Broken! God, where are you?

God, where are you? Have you ever gotten to that point where you look around, and the pitiable state people are in; the deplorable state of affairs just makes you wonder if God exists for real, and if He does, why He’s watching quietly as everything goes (seems to go) awry? This past week I’ve found myself in related instances. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes might bring into view a very bleak perspective of things.

A couple of days ago, my small sis came home looking so broken. Her eyes were all droopy and, her shoulders slouched. I could tell all was not well with her. “I cried today”, she told me.

I was in the kitchen preparing supper, so I just paused, knife in hand to look at her. “Why?”  I asked her.

A dejected sigh escaped her, before she answered, “When I was coming home, I saw this child on the street. From my estimation, he couldn’t be older than five. He was seated, leaning against a wall. I wanted to give him some biscuits I’d bought because I figured he was hungry. He was asleep, so I tried waking him up but he wouldn’t open his eyes”.

I was expecting the worst at that point… and I started dreading that the next words coming out of her mouth would be, he was dead. God-forbid! She sniffled before continuing, “I thought he was on drugs or something. Maybe some other kids already introduced him to them.”

“For most street kids it’s some sort of coping mechanism,” I explained. Then I figured he was only a small boy. I don’t have much experience with babies that I can use as some point of reference but I know some fall into deep sleep when they do get to sleep. So I also told her the same thing; or maybe, he’d been hungry for so long so he was too weak. I hoped it was the former. I know how it feels to go for a long time without food and honestly, I wouldn’t wish that, even on my worst enemy.

“When I figured he wasn’t waking up I just tucked the packet of biscuits under his sweater so the older kids wouldn’t snatch them from him. Guess what Aly? That’s when I noticed he didn’t have legs”.

“What?” I couldn’t help my surprised look. It’s not unusual to see a street child whose legs have been amputated, or who was born with under developed limbs, but hearing that about a homeless boy, and who was of such a tender age for that matter, made my heart bleed. He was out on the cold streets alone, and helpless. It certainly had to be harder for him living out in this callous world, with no one to fend for him or defend him.

His mom must have left him out there when she figured he was going to be a differently abled child. How unfair, I thought. “I don’t know how I’m ever going to live, knowing I left him out there,” my sister interrupted my momentary thoughts. “I haven’t a clue where he is. I’m scarred Aly.” She seemed broken, as those words left her mouth.

It wasn’t hard to imagine how tormented she must have been feeling. She has a big heart, and half of the times she does things even I have trouble comprehending. Sometimes I ask her not to let people take advantage of her kindness, because that’s just who she is. If there’s any weakness in her, I can bet that would be her biggest weak spot. I fear it would make her too gullible. But that aside, there was a baby living out there on the cold streets alone. The thought itself made my heart ache.

“God knows where that boy is,” I told her, “so let’s pray for Him to provide for him and that He may also keep him from harm’s way”. Nodding, she acquiesced. I could tell she would have wanted to do more for the child, but as it is, we’re so strapped for cash it hurts. Nowadays we’re merely getting by…

This and some other incidents reminded me of this Lenten reflection/prayer:

“My Jesus, the world still has you on trial. It keeps asking who You are and why You make the demands You make. It asks over and over the question, ‘if You’re God’s Son, why do You permit the world to be in the state it’s in?’

Why are you so silent?”

“…Your humility frustrates me, and makes me uncomfortable. Your strength before Pilate as You drank deeply from the power of the Father, gives me the answer to my question- The Father’s Will. The Father permits many sufferings in my life, but it’s all for my good. If only I too could be silent in the face of worldly prudence- steadfast in the faith when all seems lost; calm when accused unjustly; free from tyranny of human respect; ready to do the Father’s will, no matter how difficult”.

“Silent Jesus, give us all the graces we need to stand tall in the face of the ridicule of the world. Give the poor the strength not to succumb to their privation, but to be ever aware of their dignity as sons of God. Grant that we may not bend to the crippling disease of worldly glory, but be willing to be deprived of all things rather than lose your friendship.

My Jesus, though we are accused daily of being fools, let the vision of quiet dignity standing before monstrous injustice, give us all the courage to be your followers. Amen”.

 

That time of the year again

It’s the holidays again. Would you believe? Cuz I don’t… honestly! Where did the year go? I woke up on 1st January 2016, did a few things here and there, slept, woke up again… and bam! The year’s gone… just like that. Up until yesterday I had my head buried deep in books. Didn’t even get time to nurture the Christmas spirit. You know, that inexplicable super awesome feeling that adds some merry-touch to everything?

Now tomorrow’s Christmas and I couldn’t feel emptier. In my house we were all so tied up that we didn’t get time to put up Christmas decorations. Mom’s feeling the most deprived. She’s been coming home from work, and every time she’s disappointed to find the corner reserved for the Christmas tree still empty.

merry-christmas-2

I feel her; even felt guilty to some extent. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about it. I had exams to revise for; had my last paper yesterday. So now the exams are behind me but the Christmas cheer couldn’t feel further… and that right there, is my dilemma. It almost feels like my family and I are skipping Christmas, God forbid.

We’re going to salvage whatever’s left of Christmas because for us it’s not just a day, but a season. Hopefully, the ensuing days will make up for the lost time. However, looking back at how this year has been like, I know I have so much to thank God for.

Our ship, if I may call it, so has been rocked by so much turbulence. We’ve cried, got so close to despairing; but by God’s grace we’ve made it this far. For me, that counts for so much. If you feel like me, don’t let yourself get discouraged. Count your blessings. However insignificant it may seem; be grateful for whatever has made you smile, even if it’s only once this year. And just the simple fact that God has granted us this wonderful gift of life and guided us through this year is reason enough to thank Him and praise His Holy name.

merry-christmas

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow, I wish you the merriest of Christmases. May God fill your hearts with immeasurable joy and peace… And may He, in His abundant mercy, grant you a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2017.

Happy holidays!