"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 13, 2011
There are a lot of things in life that I don't understand. I'm not talking about computer programming, difficult math equations, science, and physics or things like that. I'm talking about real life situations. And it's hard for people to admit that they don't understand something, and that they probably never will. We want to figure things out and know all the answers and be able to comprehend the whys.
I don't understand why people have to suffer. I don't understand why children are born with deformities and diseases. I don't understand why someone dies from a certain type of cancer, while someone else is cured. I don't understand why women who don't want to be mothers and couldn't care less about their children are fertile and give birth to healthy babies, while other women who desire to be a mother and long for children miscarry. I don't understand why some are involved in tragic car accidents and walk away without a scratch, while others are in seemingly less severe accidents and are killed.
A few months ago, from what I understand, a young couple had left their three kids for a few hours with grandparents. The couple was involved in a car accident and both lost their lives. When I heard about it, I couldn't help but think, "Why?". Why would these three little ones have to endure losing both parents at the same time? It didn't make sense. Jon and I know a pastor who lost his wife in a car accident. The roads were wet and he hydroplaned and the car hit a tree on the side where his wife was sitting, and she died instantly. The pastor and the little boy both walked away completely unharmed.
At times we hear stories such as these and our only explanation is, "Well, God knows and we just have to accept that it was His timing, and that He knows what He's doing." I know that, but it still makes no sense to me and is hard to understand. While it's true that God does know and everything happens in His timing, it's often difficult for me leave it at that and not try to make some type of sense of the situation.
In the early 1980's my sister and brother-in-law pastored a church in east Arkansas. Their house was semi-attached to the church, with a walk-way separating the two. While there, their house was broken into and ransacked three or four times. Some of their stuff was recovered, and some wasn't. I remember one time they got home after visiting family in Missouri, only to walk in and see their house completely turned upside down. The mattress was off the bed, dresser drawers dumped onto the floor, sofa cushions on the floor, kitchen cabinets and drawers emptied. Knowing that someone had gone through their entire house and touched all their belongings made them feel violated. Here was a couple who were serving God faithfully in ministry, yet they were burglarized.
The tornado that recently devastated Joplin, MO was heartbreaking as you looked at the pictures and heard the stories. There were many missing people and so many deaths. So many people have lost everything they had, and have no jobs because the business where they were employed has been destroyed. When we hear reports and see photos of horrendous tornadoes, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other weather-related disasters, it's hard to understand why those things occurred. Many times, people lose their lives with little or no warning. I've heard people explain these as being a sign of end times. Perhaps it is, but it is so distressing and heartbreaking to see. And often it's easy to be a bit nonchalant about it, until it touches us personally or someone we know and love.
There's an old song that says, "We'll understand it better by and by." I'm not sure that we will. I'm not sure that we'll know all the why's and have all the answers explained to us upon our arrival into heaven. I think that theology makes people feel better now, when they're going through tough times. And perhaps we will understand and know. But somehow, I think upon our entrance into heaven, it's really not going to matter anymore and we're no longer going to care. I believe that once we get to heaven and see Jesus and all our loved ones, the last thing we're going to want to think about is what difficulties we had to endure on earth. It will be over and done with and in the past. Our eternity will be starting and we'll have the beauty and splendor of heaven to take in and explore. We'll see Jesus, be reunited with loved ones, meet the the people we've read about in the Bible and be enjoying ourselves.
Another old song says, "I don't need to understand, I just need to hold His hand." There's a big difference between needing to understand, and wanting to understand. We don't "need" to understand everything that happens in life. It's not essential or important that God explains His ways and timing to us, in order for us to serve Him and give Him our hearts. But honestly, it's more of a wanting to know so that our circumstances will make more sense and we can explain why it happened.
A young lady went through a very heartbreaking personal situation recently. Her heart was hurting, but in the midst of it her response was, "Yesterday was just one of those days when the world just seemed to turn upside down. Who was the author who wrote, 'It is Well With My Soul'? He must've been a wise man." She recognized that in the midst of her turmoil, she could hold onto the peace of knowing that it was truly well with her soul, and that she had God to cling to.
Regardless of how unfair, tough, heart-breaking, or devastating our life may seem at times, if we have the peace that comes from God, it makes all the difference in the world. Even though we don't understand what's happening and it makes no sense, we can have "the peace that surpasses our understanding fill our heart and mind through Christ Jesus." It's a peace that is not easily comprehended by those who don't know Jesus personally. Even though we don't understand all that life throws our way, those of us who have repented of our sins and have assurance of eternal life can steadfastly say, "It Is Well With My Soul."
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 'It is well, it is well with my soul.' Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul. It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul." Amen!
I've gotten to watch waves rolling in from the ocean a lot lately. No two waves seem alike. Sometimes they angle a little one way, sometimes another. Sometimes they break in different places along the beach, and different distances out to sea. And when they reach the beach, some wash up a long ways, but others have another wave washing under them, and they can't make it far.
But there are a lot of patterns. The patch of beach I've gotten to watch obviously has something below the surface. There are spots where most waves, no matter how huge, seem to die out. In other spots, most waves turn to white-caps. There are other spots where the waves tend to turn, or build, slow down, or speed up. Some of the patterns in the waves are more obscure. I can tell there's a pattern, but could never explain how or why.
When the tide is low, a few rocks do show, and give a hint at why, but not everywhere. And even where the rocks do show, it doesn't seem to follow the same patterns. In high tide, the patterns still show up. I can tell there's something big causing it, even if it isn't clear what.
The same can be true with God's work in my life. I know He's working in my life, and I can tell that I'm much better because of what He's doing. But I can't always describe how or why. I don't always know what He's done. But I know He's there.
Cheesecake Layered Cake
1/2 cup butter
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 cup flour
1 large package instant chocolate pudding
1 cup chopped nuts
1 container Cool Whip
1 cup powdered sugar
Layer 1: Crust -- Blend flour and butter in 9 x 13 pan. When well blended, pat to cover bottom of pan. Press chopped nuts into crust. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool crust completely.
Layer 2: Mix softened cream cheese with powdered sugar. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust.
Layer 3: Mix instant pudding as directed on package. Spread over second layer.
Layer 4: Spread remaining Cool Whip on top. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Chill for a couple hours before serving.
When Jon's nephew, Kevyn, was a young boy he had a dream one night about him and his grandma doing something fun together; not sure whether it was going to a fair or exactly what they had done. Kevyn's dad told his mom about the dream. She later asked Kevyn about the dream and asked what they had done. He looked at her seriously and said, "You know, Granna! You were there!" (contributed by Jon)
Some people talk about finding God, as if He could get lost. - source unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon