Trouble with a Capital T!

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”  John 14:1

Well, how many of you have troubled hearts right now?  Don’t all of you raise your hands at once because I cannot count that high!  Troubled souls seem as much like a daily staple as bread or salt. 

Devastatingly bad news swirls around us from every corner.  Terrorists take over a country, causing folks to flee their homeland with only a small bag – if they are so lucky.  COVID patients, gasping for air, are filling hospitals.  Throw in the earthquakes, fires, floods, and foolish folks, and we have a genuine bag full of trouble with a capital T.

 We watch in horror those who attempt to give their children to strangers rather than the child be raised under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.  A baby was hoisted up to an American soldier with trust that he would give the child refuge.  Luckily the family was reunited, but what a chance the parents took!

 We cry for humanitarian aid and help because their misery touches our hearts.  And, yes, such despair is horrendous.

Defiance or freedom?

After watching the evening news regarding the Afghanistan crisis, the news anchor began to report on the COVID outbreaks in America.  Exhaustion plagues hospital staffs as they try to save lives. Death rates are climbing while children are filling pediatric wards.  

 A protesting woman was interviewed on the street, “Ma’am, are you vaccinated against the virus?” the reporter asked.

“No, and I don’t believe in masks either!” She defiantly answered. 

That got me thinking…… If we sent all those who refuse to help the humanitarian crisis in this country to Afghanistan to be forced to wear burka’s 24/7, I wonder if they would change their minds?

However, there is a sense of sadness regarding the protesting lady.  She may consider she is right in her beliefs, but what is she willing to sacrifice for her rights?  Is she ready to expose her child to a disease that could kill her precious one, or hand that child up to safety because she loved her?

The least we can do

If you are not vaccinated, wearing a mask is the least you can do for the humanitarian crises here.  How hard is that in the scope of things?  Our personal freedoms in this country are meaningless if we care nothing for those who have taken all precautions to heal our land or those overworked health care workers trying to heal our sick.    

These die-hard anti maskers and anti-everything folks call themselves proud Americans.  I don’t.  I don’t like wearing masks either, but by gosh, I will do my part to save my American neighbors from a disease that has caused so much damage and trouble with a capital T.   

Please excuse me if I stepped on anyone’s free toes, but seriously?  Sometimes when in deep trouble, we need to eat crow, do things we don’t like and do whatever it takes to better the world for all. 

It amazes me how those who will fight for their individual rights miss the point.  How do we enjoy freedom if we are not free of COVID?   None of us will be less troubled if we don’t trouble ourselves to care for each other’s right to simply live.

It’s worth a try

My friends tell me, “Lynn, don’t write about things that may cause you trouble.”  They say so because they know I am sensitive and get my feelings hurt over negative criticism. (It is a flaw for sure.)  But you know what, perhaps the meek need to speak up to counter those who cause harmful trouble.  Will I change anyone’s minds? Probably not, but it’s worth a try.

Trouble comes into our lives all the time.  When the Great Depression befell our country soon after the Spanish Flu ravaged our land, there is one thing American citizens did…. they helped each other.  If you had extra eggs, then you shared them with your neighbor. If a friend fell ill, neighbors were there to aid their healing.  During World War II, those same people endured the hell of loss and battle as one proud land in a terrible time of trouble.

This is the spirit we are missing now.  Our battles are between neighbors, liberals vs. conservatives, the anti’s vs. the for’s, the truth vs. conspiracy.   We are blinded by our shouting defiance while the son of God calmly whispers, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  “Trust me, love one another as I love you.”

With God’s help, we must remember that we can reduce our defiance, save the child, put our self-interest on the shelf, and lift our loved ones and our country to safety.  That is where we will find our refuge and ultimate freedom.

Gather Our Slings and Stones

What good do mere words do during seemingly giant-sized tribulations?  I am sure David thought such when he faced Goliath with his sling.  “How are these five pebbles going to stop such a giant beast?”

This morning COVID is again claiming victims and filling hospitals across the nation.  Medical teams are again working exhaustingly long hours trying to save lives through their sheer skill and determination while the rest of us fight over masks and vaccines. 

Fires are raging, heatwaves scorch the earth, violence roams through our cities, while earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorists continue to destroy globally.  And that is just today’s news.  What about tomorrow? How much more disaster can we handle? 

The beast has risen.  That old Goliath is back, and we need to obtain heavy-duty slingshots and gather some very smooth stones from the river. However, how in the world do we tame this enormous giant with such rudimentary weaponry?  How did David, who was such a small boy, stop Goliath? 

A story of Courage and Faith

The story of David and Goliath in the Bible is a lesson of courage and faith in overcoming what seems, at first, to be an impossible task.  David slew the giant because of trusting God to aid him.  Even though he was small,  David’s enormous faith gave him the accuracy and power to defeat the enemy.

If we become determined to find the stones needed, we can slay the beast.  Love, courage, faith, dignity, and compassion are the smooth weapons we must use to topple the giant. We cannot do it alone, and we cannot do this monumental task divided. 

We, as a nation, should no longer blame politics for all our misfortunes.  All of us should not rebuke anyone other than ourselves for our loss of dignity.   When I watch or hear or read about folks fighting over the virus because of a political stance, I am befuddled. I wonder if they have lost every grain of love, compassion, common sense, and character they ever possessed.

When we see violence and murders rise, I wonder how or why those who promote such evil lost love for life and one another.  When I witness the devastation of Mother Nature across the earth, I often think, what if God has walked away, given up, because we abandoned him as proven by our actions.

Time to use our faith

For those who have faith in a Mighty God, it is now the time to use it.  Let’s pick up our individual stone and remember in all things, in all our words and actions, ask ourselves, “Is this helpful, is this truth, is this God’s way?”  If so, then cast your weapon toward the giant.  Remember, it is more important to adhere to God’s laws than our personal ideologies.

The Godly must not sit down in battle.  They must put on the armor of God, wear the belt of truth, and stand firm. 

How can we love when we spread and encourage distrust and hatred?  Love must rise above the evil, or we will not slay the beast.  We will not.  If we hoard anger, resentment, and mistrust of all things, we will die by the hand of darkness.  How many times and ways has God said those words in the Bible?   If one cannot let hatred go for the good of all mankind, then our weapons are useless, and the giant is victorious.

A soldiers honor

Dignity, honor, and courage are the backbone of a soldier.  I recently have been the invited guest speaker for several groups of Vietnam Veterans. If you want to view honor and be humbled, go see them.  The beauty of their courage will take your breath away.  It is the bravery of the soldier that gives our America dignity.  These honorable men and women who served our ENTIRE country deserve for us to show the same respect for each other as they did for their fellow warriors amid a brutal, nasty war. 

These veterans understand the pebble of courage like no others, and they can teach us all how to throw the stone not only of bravery but of dignity. 

We can do nothing without the power of God.  We are nothing without him.  Our politics, presumed intelligence, self-righteousness, goodness, honor, friends, families, personal rights, and nation are nothing and absolutely meaningless if God walks away.   The beast wins it all.

 David knew he needed the power of God, and that is how the stone of faith killed the giant.  And that is how we will as well if we band together as an army of honorable soldiers casting our stones toward Goliath.  He cannot continue to stand against such weaponry.  

Do we want to cast stones toward the beast and win or continue to cast our stones toward each other and lose it all? 

Life’s Most Crucial Words

A few short phrases in life can move mountains, shape our destiny, and cure ills:  “I love you.” “I’m sorry. “Dear God…”  These few utterances spoken at various times can change minds and hearts everywhere.   They are the essential words for experiencing a good life and are vitally important to us all. 

Probably the first sentence we recall as a child was when our parents whispered, “I love you.”  We thrive on love from the beginning to the end of our lives.  Love is a blessing given to us, and we return it to those we feel deep abiding affection.

I have found that love never dies.  One can feel profound appreciation for another long after they have gone away. When love wounds us, sometimes we wish to retaliate, return the hurt, and hold on to resentment.  However, those actions only deepen the pain and inhibit us from moving on.   

“Is it better to love and lose than to never love at all?”  Of course.  

Difficult words to say

When we cannot say “I’m sorry” to those we hurt, we need to rethink our thinking.  Forgiveness is a two-way street.  The good Lord explains that very clearly in the Bible when he says, “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.”  Matthew 6:14 

We learn as children, “I’m sorry” is challenging to say.   Even when we know we did grievous wrongdoing, something within us hates to admit we erred.  Sometimes, it is just denial or misplaced stubbornness, but boy, is it necessary.  There is a multitude of problematic issues that could be solved by simply asking for forgiveness.

Harboring anger, guilt, and hatred only damages us.  When we can’t forgive others or ask for forgiveness, we will never experience peace. 

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”  Theologian Lewis B. Smedes sure got that right! 

Love and forgiveness go hand in hand…  and they are supposed to.  If you really think about it, can love flourish without mercy?  The greatest love given to us was when God sent His son to show us the way.  And, in the final hour of Christ’s life, the son asked his father, “Forgive them…….”

He is the center of life

 “Dear God….”  When we pray those words, we seek guidance, pardon, help, strength, and comfort.  God hears our plea when we fall on our knees, and we are reminded that He is the center of life.

As humans, we can complicate the heck out of anything.  We can make life a mess by the mistakes we make, the overthinking or underthinking we do, and the choices we make.   We often put success, money, and even our politics above the quintessential fundamentals of life.  

Years ago, when my oldest child was about five, we were shopping in the local grocery store. Her baby brother was in the grocery cart,  and her toddler sister held my hand as Amy tagged behind us.   She was a bright precocious little girl with a headful of curls, and her dark brown eyes twinkled with a bit of mischief that I understood well.   

I looked back toward her and noticed her chewing so much gum that she was drooling!  “Where did you get all that gum?”  I exclaimed in shock. 

“I fount it.”  She mumbled as she looked toward the ground.

“Just where did you “fount” it?”  I mockingly replied.

 When her guilt began to spew forth in multitudes of bubbles, I knew she took it without permission from the shelf.  She had opened the pack and stuffed all five pieces in her little mouth, thinking no one would notice.

“Well, Amy, after you spit out your thievery, we must go tell the manager what you have done.”

The manager was a big man (I mean huge).  I made this downtrodden little girl go tell him the truth of her stealing ways.  Let me say this, that child learned to say, “I’m sorry” very quickly, and I realized that love is teaching them how to do so.  Later that night, Amy began to understand that it all is made better after she knelt beside her bed to say her prayers, “Dear God…..”

So, isn’t it true, all these words bind together to form life’s most crucial opening sentence:  Dear God, I love you, and I’m sorry for…..