This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Antonio Garrido (Cuban Christian), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.' (Revelation 21:3-6)
Although we know we are 'not of the world', we need many things from this world.
When you are deprived of these daily necessities because you are a Christian, life becomes difficult and hard.
This has often been the case with Christians in my country. Not only was it hard for us to find employment, but it almost became impossible to purchase certain articles, ranging from luxury goods like cars to necessities of life such as food and clothes.
When church services are forbidden as well, you feel discriminated against as a Christian and you have to beware of despondency and hopelessness. But the words spoken by Christ in Revelation 21:5 gave us hope: 'I am making everything new!'
Is this only valid for eternity? No, God in His might is able to make all things new now. How does He do that? By changing the circumstances? Or by changing us, so that we experience that in all these things we are more than conquerors? In trouble, in loneliness and in prison. For nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ. He holds us fast, He makes all things new. Every day--including today.
A moment of introspection: We look to our merciful and gracious Father in heaven, in our time of need. In difficult and hard times, we look up in thankfulness to Jehovah Jireh, our divine provider. I am reminded of Jeremiah's reflections in the book of Lamentations--especially as he reflects on his troubles and yet his reliance on God. Let's listen to him: "I remember my afflictions and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" (Lamentations 3:19-24). God's compassions never fail. What an affirmation! Job went as far as to say, speaking of God, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." (Job 13:15a) I have heard it said, as well, that God will not protect us from that which would help us grow in faith. A rough paraphrase of James' thoughts might be as follows; in his epistle, he essentially agrees with a comment such as "faith is, as faith does" (James 1:22-25) If we encounter problems, difficulties, trouble, loneliness, let us remember that nothing is able to separate us from the love of Christ. He holds us fast, and makes all things new. Every day, in every way.
A hymn entitled "Teach Me Your Way, O Lord" asks God to lead us through times of adversity and loneliness. Here is its message:
Teach me your way, O Lord, teach me your way!
Your guiding grace afford--teach me your way!
Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heavenly light--teach me your way!
When I am sad at heart, teach me your way!
When earthly joys depart, teach me your way!
In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress,
In failure or success, teach me your way!
When doubts and fears arise, teach me your way!
When storm clouds fill the skies, teach me your way!
Shine through the wind and rain, thro' sorrow, grief and pain;
Make now my pathway plain--teach me your way!
Long as my life shall last, teach me your way!
Where'er my lot be cast, teach me your way!
Until the race is run, until the journey's done,
Until the crown is won, teach me your way!
(Words and music by B. Mansell Ramsey, 1849-1923)
Deprived of basic necessities, church services forbidden, discriminated against as a Christian, despondent, hopeless, lonely, imprisoned--in and through these life stresses, through Christ Himself, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:28-39). We are connected to Christ (our Good Shepherd) and through Christ to God Himself. May God teach us His ways, and through such ways, may we indeed "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15) We do have hope in the midst of our trials and tribulations. We need never feel lonely, with Christ in our lives. Are we discriminated against as Christians? Are we deprived of basic necessities or banned from attending church services? "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:2-3) When hardships and difficulties come...”Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me!” (Psalm 70:1) Teach me Your way, O God.