There are two things I firmly believe are true. #1 – God did not rain down corona virus on us. #2 – God can and will redeem the pain and suffering we all experience during this crisis. I don’t know when or how, but He will.
Where was God? This is a question we often hear when something bad happens. It implies that if something horrible happens, there must not be a God because otherwise He would have prevented this terrible thing. The common response from a person of faith is, “God never promised to prevent bad things from happening. He promised to be with us at all times.” True but incomplete. What exactly does that mean that He is with us during that terrible time?
walk down a ramp to get to the museum, deep underground, you see a nondescript, rather ugly, concrete wall on the left. It was odd since every other part of the museum was beautifully designed and finished. I learned that it was the original retaining wall from one of the towers–the wall that holds back the Hudson River. If that wall had been breached, the tragedy would have been so much worse as lower Manhattan would have been instantly flooded. I can see an army of angels holding that wall in place during the explosions that incinerated the building and fire so hot it melted the steel. God protected the people in Lower Manhattan.
molten piece of steel. It was open to Matthew 5 which includes the verses:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” and “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matt. 5:4,38,39.
When Yarely, our bouncy, pouncy, flouncy, 10 year old died, God sent us the same
message. As I wrote in a post the day after:
After the funeral service, we processed to the burial site. It is a cemetery on the side of a mountain in the village of San Buenaventura. Although the path was long and a bit treacherous, the view over the valley was beautiful. “Just like the view from our mountain home in Tennessee!” exclaimed Brad, Yarely’s father. Off to the left was a beautiful view of a valley with a town at the far end. It was cloudy and dark when we arrived. (Thank you Lord for holding off the torrential rains during the burial.) Led by Angel and the small guitar, we began singing a beautiful, meditative song called, “Aleluya” praising God. I looked up to see the town, just the town, illuminated, shining in the midst of the grey, cloudy mountains. As the song ended, the clouds returned. For a moment the Lord reveals, “Yarely is with me, in my Holy City.”
Where is God when bad things happen? Right there, loving the victims, holding them in His arms, inviting them into a new life. But that’s not all. He is here, with us, speaking to us, the survivors, offering us comfort and hope. The very last thing Jesus said was, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Always. Amen.
Over my life as a Christian, I have learned a lot about God. Often I realize in retrospect something He has taught me. I listen attentively to sermons to glean what I can, I seek out a deeper understanding through my own studies. I pray for discernment and understanding. However, it is rare that I am aware of being in the midst of being actively taught something by the Lord.
I recently attended the New Wineskins Mission Conference. I attended two break out sessions on healing. I believe miraculous healing through prayer can happen. In fact, I have received healing twice, once a physical healing and the other healing of a deep, long standing emotional wound. As I sat in the sessions, I decided I wanted to learn more about healing and, even perhaps, how to be an instrument of God’s healing. So, I bought 4 books on the subject.
As I flew back to Honduras, I thought maybe I should start with myself. I have carpal tunnel in both my wrists and thumbs. (Side note to all you avid thumb texters…you will be here one day. As I told a doctor once, I am like a cat – clever but ineffective since I have no use of my opposable thumbs) I prayed with complete faith and belief for healing.
Here is what happened. First of all, the Lord taught me about daily bread. “Give us this day our daily bread” is not just about bread! This is something the Hondurans know very well. As Angel says, “Yesterday is gone, we don’t know if there will be a tomorrow, all we have is today. Live today as though it is your last.” Anyone in recovery understands this concept as well. “One day at a time.” Instead of waiting for a dramatic healing event, I understood the Lord was teaching me to pray for healing one day at a time. All I need is for my hands to be pain-free today. “As Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matt.6:34) So I start each day with a prayer, please heal my hands for today. Tomorrow is another day.
After several days, I realized He was teaching something else. Throughout each day I will have moments when I realized my hands don’t hurt. I say a quick prayer of thanks. Occasionally, my thumb or my wrist will start hurting, sometimes in the middle of the night. I say a quick prayer asking for healing. Within a minute or two the pain subsides. I was pondering this and reflected on the time He healed me physically. I had a bad case of tendonitis in both Achilles tendons. I could hardly walk. I had a huge knot on each tendon. I had just started my ministry here and worried it would severely impact my ability to fulfill my responsibilities. Two orthopedic doctors had examined them and both had said there was nothing to be done. One day, I met an extraordinarily spiritual woman. Suzy introduced her as Sister Lupita, a prophet. I asked her to pray for my ankles, which she did. That afternoon, the knots were gone and I was painfree. It was a miracle! Dr. Jim, one of the orthopedic doctors who had examined me, was amazed that my tendons were totally healed. This was over 8 years ago and I haven’t had a twinge since. I suddenly realized that I rarely think about them or what God did for me. Sometimes I will tell the story to illustrate our miraculous Lord, but mostly I just thoughtlessly enjoy healthy tendons.
This time, with my hands, the Lord didn’t give me a one and done miraculous healing. Instead He helps me one day at a time. This is my lesson – to depend on God when I have needs, to lean on Him in times of trouble, to be thankful at all times for all things, and to walk through this life hand in hand, day by day with Him.
I don’t know how my hands will feel tomorrow but today, despite hours of painting which should have left me writing in pain, today my hands don’t hurt. I talk to God all day, asking for help and thanking Him for His grace and mercy. I think I like it this way best. (By the way, I haven’t opened the books yet!) So pray with me, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread”…whatever that may be for you and take His hand today.
I have a combo team in house. Part of the team is a medical brigade and part is a construction team. Yesterday the construction team set off to a rural, mountain site to build a house in a day. We have finally gotten rain, thanks be to God, which made the dirt road leading to the site a muddy road. The truck carrying all the wood and supplies got stuck. Finally, it made it to the site. The team had just started unloading when a man showed up and announced that HE, not our beneficiary, owned the tiny plot of land. We can’t settle property disputes in the moment so the team had to leave. The wood truck got stuck in the mud again and almost slid off a small ledge. So, now what? We have wood for a house and team to build it but no beneficiary. Fortunately, my assistant, Edson, is on the ball. He had already begun scoping out beneficiaries for the houses we will build in October.
Meanwhile, a woman in Flor named Felicity, was reeling from the day before. Her daughter had been mugged. In the middle of the night, the heavy rain was too much for her fragile, makeshift roof. It collapsed. Felicity was relieved they had survived the disaster but at a complete loss. Everything she had was gone. They literally had no roof over their heads. She does the only thing she can do. She begins to pray, beseeching the Lord to intervene, to somehow provide shelter for her and her daughter. Please, Lord, help us.
Then the wood truck and the team showed up. The team jumped out of the van and began unloading the wood. Edson explained to Felicity that, if it is OK with her (!) the team would build her house right then and there. Just a few hours later, Felicity and her daughter had a new, waterproof, strong house, built to last!
So, which was it? A mess or a miracle? The day sure started as a mess but the Lord has a way of making a mess into a miracle.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
In the US, when you hear “s/he stepped up” to accomplish something or help out, it connotes a bit of a heroic effort. One steps up in a situation where everyone else is stymied or it is a task no one wants to do or the task is outside of the person’s responsibility. It is a good thing.
I see people stepping up all the time here. Last month, the Lord showed me a little girl who desperately needed a wheelchair. On a Tuesday, I texted my friend, Kathy, my go-to person when we need a wheelchair, and asked her if she could find a child’s wheelchair and send it with the team coming the following
Saturday. Within 2 hours I had a reply, “We’ve got a one!” She collected the wheelchair and then delivered it to the team, a couple of hours away, so they could bring it down. Lots of people in South Carolina stepped up to help a little girl they didn’t know.
A couple of weeks ago, a 5-year-old girl in our school in Flor told our psychologist that her step-father was abusing her and that he had also thrown her 7-month-old brother on the floor. By that afternoon, they and their 2-year-old brother were in our Children’s Home, with a caretaker hired to care for them. There were no discussions about capacity, about affordability in adding 3 children and a caretaker to the already stretched budget. The staff at the school and Children’s Home stepped up to save these children from further abuse. Edgar, 8, stepped up and took the 2 year old under his wing, teaching him how to say grace at dinnertime!
Last Friday I got a call in the late afternoon. “There is a big fire behind the church. We are evacuating all the children. Can they come to Casa LAMB?” We didn’t have a team that week and Gloria and Dulce had spent the entire week cleaning every inch of Casa LAMB, even scrubbing the wall behind the stove! When they heard the news, they stepped up. They knew that all their work would be undone in minutes, yet with big smiles, they immediately began preparing the house to receive 42 children and 8 adults. They graciously oriented the Children’s Home cooks to the kitchen and announced they would be back Saturday morning, their day off, to redo all the work they had already done.
While I was there, I noticed a big cart in Mengui’s living room. “What is that?” It is a bicycle with a food cart attached to it. Mengui and Damariz have started a neighborhood worship community in their home. Many of the members are single mothers who have no work. (Unemployment in Honduras is 50+%) The Lord told Mengui to help them. So, he took out a loan to buy this contraption and they are preparing to start a business together cooking and selling Chinese food! Damariz is a cook at the Children’s Home so is very experienced in cooking in large quantities. They both have the reputation of being excellent cooks! They, the women, and Carlos, one of our boys who has graduated from the program, will run the business. Carlos, also unable to find work, dreams of being a chef.
Why all this stepping up? Because we follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Because Jesus calls us to step up when we see people in need. But the real reason is because we are family. And that is a very good thing.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. –