9/13/2013 12:51:15 AM
Sept 12, 2013~Grieving
Right Connections. (Early Morning Phone Call - #3)
To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. I was forcefully drawn to the article in this last Sunday’s New York Times, simply entitled “The Value of Suffering,” (in which the above quote by Nietzsche was contained). …’to survive is to make sense of the suffering’.1 Suffering is universal, but our response is not. Survival is critical, and demands the best of us; finding meaning in our suffering is not always guaranteed, but surviving great loss is imperative!
This week, I have had the opportunity to pray with a grieving father of a 20-year-old athlete whose life ended abruptly five days ago when he was struck by a car; I have prayed with and for a husband and wife who learned that his terminal cancer is back … and for a much-too-young wife, mother and grandmother whose life is being ravaged by voracious cancer.
How to cope. In yesterday’s morning briefing, “Hitting the Reset Button,”2 I suggested that we maintain a framework of understanding, as it is critical to our riding out life’s tragedies, losses and sorrows. Having core beliefs about how God loves us and is present with us, that he is worthy of our trust are foundational in our survival. Several of you have contacted me, desperately needing these lifelines of truth at this time in your life. But Friends, there is a key element that needs to be in place for the divine nature of God and his Word to be sustaining factors in your life—
You must lay hold of Jesus Christ.
I think of when Jesus looked around at his disciples, his closest friends in the world, and said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives give I to you; do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”3 You keenly feel God’s presence when you are in relationship with him. Do not make the common mistake of thinking you have a relationship with Christ because you are religious, or even because you believe in God … both stop short.
Yes, think of that sad state of affairs: religion without the truth of relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ. And perhaps you profess belief in a god, several gods, or even Jesus, but you have never entered into relationship with him. After all, James said, even the demons believe.4
Your individual decision to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ is the single most important decision you will ever make; and make no mistake, it does require decision. It not only impacts this moment in time, but your forever. While there is no one right way to express your heart, there are a few things to think of:
Admit you are a sinner, and want to be forgiven of your sins;
Believe that Jesus Christ, Son of God, paid for your sins on the cross because of his great love for you;
Come to him, and offer yourself to his leadership. Pray to him, and tell him these things. He will take up residence in your life—you will never be without him again. God promises, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”5
You have entered new life in Jesus … You will never again be alone, as his spirit is in you. You are connected to the Source of life, strength and love.
Has a Christian you loved died--someone like young Nick? Now you can be assured you will see him again, you will be with him in Heaven, face to face!
Oh, and imagine you were standing alongside Peter, James and John and the other disciples that day so long ago … imagine that along with them, Jesus looked straight into your eyes and said,
‘Peace I leave with you, Connie … my peace I give to you, Mel … Not as the world gives do I give to you, Bill; do not let your heart be troubled, Laurie, and do not it be afraid, John.’ I will never leave you, Sue; when you trust in me, Matthew, I will lead you. When you ask me for wisdom, Pam, I will give it to you. My grace is all you need, Lisa—it will be sufficient for you.
The words of God, the words from Scripture upon which we build our framework are not just words on a page.
God’s words are life, and they are life sustaining.
And when we are connected to Jesus Christ, we are changed and transformed by what he speaks to us from his Word. And now, if you were able to ‘get’ this because you are open due to your suffering, well then, Nietzsche’s thought is especially true-- To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. Your suffering just brought you to faith in God.