Hidden Saints

Why must we look out for saints?  It’s because if we spot them we can expect unexpected blessings.  Where do we find them?  They are everywhere and we meet them while walking in the woods, shopping, in organizations, at churches, or when we just hop into a McDonald’s or Hardee’s to buy a cup of coffee.  But how do you know they are saints?  Some are unable to recognize them because they appear as all sorts of people with different vocations.  For one, when they greet you, you may be tempted to ignore them because they look ordinary.

Sometimes they strike up a conversation, and you may not even realize there was anything particularly striking, or unusual about them.  This saint might focus on some problem you’re concerned about that you wish would go away.  Then here comes this man or woman and as they spoke with you, they reveal the same problem troubling you.

It could be whether you must quit your job for other work, having financial problems, or struggling with a sick child at home.  What can you do?  You might have relocated to a new town, and are looking for an apartment.  Then again, it might be you simply wish to know the quickest way to your son’s soccer game.  This saint unexpectedly provides the answer you have never imagined.  You didn’t realize it, but in hindsight you’re sure the person with whom you were chatting, provided an answer that literally saved your life.  An American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan (b. 1941) in his lyrics “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” sang about an orphan with his gun crying like a fire in the sun:

Lookout, the saints are coming through

And it’s all over baby blue…

Unlike the lines of these lyrics it is never over, for saints are blessed with an eternal future.  Everywhere they pop up unexpectedly appearing in places and situations where you least expect to see them.  During these times they are working with, and for us, helping solve problems, and shedding light on new ones.

Unexpected Saints

Some saints are considered hidden. On Vatican Radio on December 4th, 2014, Pope Francis (b. 1936) at morning mass at Santa Marta recalled his experiences with them, “There are many hidden saints, men, women, fathers and mothers of families, sick people, priests who every day put into practice the love of Jesus; and this give us hope.”

By simply giving a cup of water to a thirty beggar a saint will be of help, and important gift is feeding the starving in the midst of devastating earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and drought.  You see them building homes for the homeless, and digging wells in impoverished regions, to bring fresh water and relief to villagers.  While working in hospitals, medical centers, and soup kitchens some still go unrecognized.

Throes of Life

In the throes of life saints appear in places where there are severe pangs, pains and suffering.  During extreme difficulties and troubles, they slave away with and for us.  It might be an era of great revolutions, or social change in nations, but they are with the down-trodden.  In these agonizing crises they silently nurse wounds, and care for the sick, and dying.

Pop groups have sprung up capturing these dark moments of life.  Throes of Perdition lyrics by TRIVIUM use images of being blind-folded, gagged, firing squads, vultures and hyenas to promote themselves.  Throes of Dawn – a band formed in 1994, is a dark metal band from Finland that provides music that pushes the fear of pain in human existence.  Their fare is emotional, dark and progressive music with growling, screaming and bittersweet experiences.  An English rock band Pink Floyd founded in 1979, inducted in the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1996, in “One Of My Turns” – The Wall Lyrics sang, “This is just a passing phase”:

One of my bad days.

Would you want to watch T.V.?

Or get between the sheets?”

Although saints work around the world there are social deficiencies crying out for help.  We find evidence of these problems in our pop culture.  But regardless how bleak these situations are, the meek, hard-working and hidden saints make a difference impacting communities for the better.

 

Our Life’s Predicament

Since the fall of Adam and Eve human beings have faced quite a predicament, but Christ’s dying on the cross at Calvary has saved us.  The problem with our first parents’ downfall led to the fall of humanity.  Moral evil (sin) has entered the world and we live in a state of alienation from God.  This was because of the betrayal of trust in the Garden of Eden.  With this betrayal many humans now have toxic and malignant personal power.  The core of sin is unbelief and hardness of heart that have cast blights over the world.  People have made bad choices, but God wants us to look to him, and reverse our direction.  Franz Wright (b. 1953), a poet said, “I am in no way different from anyone else, that my predicament, my sense of aloneness or isolation may be precisely what unites me with everyone else.”  Wright has succinctly reflected on the plight that everyone has found themselves in.

State of Enmity

 Lots of repercussions followed mankind’s fall, but people persist in living sinful lives.  There’s a lack of reconciliation with God.  People worship profit, and consumption that have become false idols in their lives.  With the propensity to sin they are afflicted with a bad spiritual infection.  Sins lurk in their beings.   People practice self-elevation and aggrandizement.  Now they are struck with physical evils of all sorts.  With these misplaced allegiances they have become willing accomplices in evil schemes.  Many are now notable sinners in this world.  Thomas Sydenham (1624–1689), an English author and physician wrote, “Lastly, he must remember that he himself hath no exemption from the common lot, but he is bound by the same laws of mortality, and liable to the same ailments and afflictions with his fellows.”  With the fall of the first man and woman sin has enveloped us in profound ways.  The only way to counter such evils is to turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness.

Alienation

Presently many people are living with souls weighed down and tormented.  These people have cursed and corrupted souls.  But by pursuing evil ways they can be lost forever.  It’s only through salvation that people’s souls are saved.  Souls separated from God are in an ongoing state of enmity with him.  These are the ones that have fallen short of the glory of God, who refuse to repent because of pride.  The Bible teaches that “… the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).  This is the gift people ought to pursue.  Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994), a Romanian playwright said, “There is no religion in which everyday life is not considered a prison; there is no philosophy or ideology that does not think that we live in alienation.”  The consequences of living in alienation are devastating for people living in a corrupt world.

Broken Relationships

It’s for people to correct their ruptured relationships by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – for he’s our new Adam.  He alone can expiate our guilt, heal our souls, change our distorted lives, and revive us.  Only he can do away with people’s corrupt nature, and save us from eternal punishment.  Evil has led to moral and spiritual bondage.  It’s Christ, who can wipe away negative, and defeated thinking.  Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962), a novelist and freelance journalist said, “Find joy in everything you choose to do.  Every job, relationship, home … it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.”  Palahniuk agreed the way people must go about changing their relationships is to embrace a new attitude of love when pursuing peace and justice.

To Be Truly Rich

Are you rich in the things of this world?  Do these riches satisfy your soul?  If the answer is “no,” take a glimpse at what it is to have the right kind of riches.

There are people in this world who have more than enough material possessions.  They boast about their money, property and wealth.  They take extravagant vacations, stay at luxurious hotels, but are they satisfied?  Some may possess fine paintings and sculptures by renowned artists, and display for public viewing these works.  But these masterpieces don’t necessarily bring them satisfaction.  These wealthy people are owners of elaborate yachts, live in mansions, drive state-of-the-art cars, and have many admirers, but they may still be dissatisfied.  What if they have good-natured friends with fine qualities, but their lives don’t seem right to them.  In drinking the finest wines, these folks are able to attend the best concerts, and enjoy enthralling music. And being dressed in stunning evening attire, and flowing gowns, still something seems missing. Their fragrance is that of expensive perfumes, and driven by their chauffeurs they grace elaborate parties, but they may still feel out of place.

These individuals are enjoying some of the best things the world has to offer.  Their friends are elegant, with a quick wit, and sense of humor, but what isn’t amusing is that they may come away from these special functions feeling life is meaningless.  They ask themselves, “Who am I?  What am I doing?  What am I trying to prove?  Where do I go from here?”

Finding Answers

It might be that they have to downsize to start enjoying the simple things they were overlooking. More realistically they ought to give their lives to Jesus Christ.  Pick up their crosses and follow him and watch all aspects of their lives fall into place.  It might not be the best thing to be rich, but ironically there’s much more to gain when people live modestly.  This is after people realize what’s important in their lives.

Such individuals must have an eye on the prize for eternal blessings.  It’s believed that the faithful if they have Christ have found everything necessary for their journey.  Is wealth able to buy health, satisfaction, happiness, joy, and peace of mind?  Over and over people read Scripture warning them about being rich. So people have to be careful about having earthly possessions, especially if they become their gods.  Instead, put your hopes on God’s Heavenly Kingdom and his divine gifts.  That’s where their future lies.

True Happiness

True happiness brings peace of mind.  How can people have peace of mind?  By serving the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and being lights to others.  It’s true people must enjoy the basic necessities, and have enough money for food, clothing and shelter.  But these gifts they must share with the poor and destitute.  Living just for oneself is a dangerous proposition.  Some people have regretted not living godly lives.  An English Archbishop during the reign of Henry VⅢ bemoaned the fact that if he had served God as faithfully as he had served his King, God wouldn’t have forgiven him in his old age.  It was during the 16th century Cardinal Wolsey, who was stricken with a broken heart was executed by his King.

 

Renewing Your Mind

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

—Rom 12:1-2

It’s essential to understand how your mind works.  Christians should turn to the Bible for answers.  This will be all part of fulfilling the destiny to love abundantly.  Joyce Meyer (b. 1943), a Christian author and speaker said, “As you pray to the Holy Spirit to make you aware of thoughts  that come in your mind that don’t line up with God’s Word, you’ll begin to realize when those thoughts come and you can renew your mind with the Word.”  Undoubtedly the mind is a key to Christian living.  It’s for us to be able to discern the truth to be guided in the right way (1 Cor 2:14).

To do so we have to understand ourselves.  Some players of sports might be best able to capture this reality because their success is based on performance.  Ralph Marston (1907–1967), a professional football player wrote, “Rest when you’re weary.  Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit.  Then get back to work.”  With Christians it’s always a job of loving and serving others.  They have to be well-equipped to complete these tasks.

Much of this calls for a personal examination of our hearts.  Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973), a writer and novelist explained, “Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up.”  Our goals have to grow out of such confidence as we change our ungodly ways of thinking into new and life-affirming ways.

Time of Renewal

The church’s calendar has periods dedicated to renewal.  James Keating (b. 1923), a Trappist monk and priest wrote, “Lent is the time to renew wherever we are in that process, that I call the divine therapy.  It’s a time to look what our instinctual needs are, look at what the dynamics of our unconscious are.”  Loving God and our neighbor is an ongoing process.  Our thoughts are often buffeted by the happenings in the world around us, so we must turn to the Word, repent, and pray for forgiveness.

But how can we do these things?  Susan L. Taylor (b. 1946), an editor and journalist said, “We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly – spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”  Others may see this as something we should do whether we’re in a church or not.  As Satya Nadella (b. 1967), an Indian American business executive of Microsoft wrote, “You renew yourself every day.  Sometimes you’re successful, sometimes you’re] not, but it’s the average that counts.”  This lesson on loving, and renewal, takes time, and work.

Renewal is what is good, acceptable, and the perfect will of God (Rom 12:2).  It’s how we praise God, and think about these things (Phil 4:8).  By showing affection for the things above (Col 3:2), you shall run and not be weary, and walk, and not faint (Isa 40:31).  Then you could say like Louie Schwartzberg (b. 1950), a director, producer, and cinematographer: “I think we need to do some deep soul searching about what’s important in our lives and renew our spiritual thinking, whether it’s through faith-based religion or just through loving nature or helping your fellow man.”

Life’s Remote

Need a remote?  Do you think by having this devise you can control your life?  It may be natural to think so, for if you can control your mind you may be able to solve your problems.  But is that possible?

Personal Control

In thinking about oneself it’s usually a battle with the mind.  You may try controlling your thoughts like using a TV remote. What to think – monitoring what’s good or bad. But, “Use commonsense” you say, “for I’ll have a perfect plan.”  By encouraging good thoughts – those enlightening to the mind, body, and spirit, you’ll be able to solve your problems.  These must be the ones you must feed and nurture.  By starving thoughts that are negative you’re discouraging unwanted feelings.  So do breathing exercises, meditate, and pray for have control.  Do these techniques work?  Yes, to some extent.  Some negative thoughts you may capture, and banish from your mind, but emotional ones linger.

Controlling the Emotions

Psychologists warn us about the dire consequences of feeding our mind with negative thoughts.  When they come to your mind do something about them.  Try distracting yourself by going for a walk, or playing music, which will surely change your thinking.  If negative emotions persist do not dwell on them, but pray to let them go. Call on the Lord, and quote Scriptures to refresh yourself. And watch a change in attitude come over you.

 Dream Dreams

A dreamer may dream about the future.  It’s estimated that 20 percent of the population are lucid dreamers.  Another 50 percent occasionally remember some of their dreams.  These are dreams while  we are asleep, but we’re all dreamers while awake and active.  Dreaming is like clicking on the remote to be transported to an imaginary place.  The only thing is this action doesn’t actually give you a movie-like experience.

Rewinding Our Life

Like a movie, we can’t rewind our life.  Listen to what Frank Matobo from Africa University, Zimbabwe said, “Time waits for no man.  A second of doubt means you are a second behind.  So make a choice, use it wisely or lose it forever.  There is simply no rewind.”  This is why believers must have faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  They must embrace life, believe in good things, and accentuate the positive.  Christians must never doubt, but accept what’s holy, true, just, and honest.  These attributes comes with perseverance, and studying the Word.  There’s a Facebook community where people want to rewind their lives. They can only speculate about those things they wish to change, haven’t done, and if they had a chance to do it over again, what they are willing to do differently.

Fast-forward

Like with the rewind feature individuals can use their minds to recall past events.  They can linger on their experiences, errors and faulty thinking, but with the fast-forward button they can only use their imagination to dream.  We are incapable and limited, for we can’t fast-forward our minds through problems.  To do so we’ll have to be able to know what the future brings.  With a movie you can speed forward and know because all scenes are already prerecorded.  You can watch the end, or middle before the beginning.  In real life you can only imagine this feature.  That’s why Christians can focus on eternal life, because they have discerned, pictured, and are reassured by biblical promises their commitment in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is sound.  Indeed this is through faith because they have been exposed to the totality of God’s Word.

 Pause & Mute

In life some critics argue that there’s never pause and mute buttons through which we have control.  From birth the play button propels us on our trajectory.  It’s for us to steer our ship, and do our best to avoid shipwrecks.  Let us reflect on what author Sonya Parker wrote, “Life doesn’t come with a rewind, FAST -FORWARD or PAUSE BUTTON.  Once it starts it PLAYS until it ends or until you press STOP.”

It’ll be interesting if we can view the pause and mute buttons as times for reflection, and prayer.  Being caught up in a hectic schedule sometimes it’ll be best to withdraw to a quiet place, close our eyes and give thanks to Almighty God.  Our prayer may very well be on pause when we fail to utter words and are one with all creation.  It’s suicide or murder if you hit the stop button.  Never do this, but let life end naturally, and you’ll be blessed.

 

The Divine Process

What role do people play in the Divine process?  Obviously, they are on a journey of discovery to find the true light in their lives.  Many of us begin by taking “baby steps” until we are more confident about embracing our real goals.  This can be summed up best by our desire to live fulfilled-lives.   As believers this calls for making the tough choices.  It will take the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us.

William J. Clinton (b. 1946), president of the United States said, “If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes.  But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person.  It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you.  The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”  People who are guided by the Holy Spirit will never ever quit.  They know that their faith is eternal.

Believers’ Mission

Undoubtedly, believers strive to do as much work as possible about their lives, friends, communities, and churches.  They have to learn how they can be true lights to others.  Through discernment they have to discover how best to serve.  As members of the body of Christ it’s essential to use our talents effectively, for we are of one body of which Christ is the Head.  It’s the Holy Spirit that directs our actions.  And it’s for us to reflect God’s love toward others’ lives, for he’s omnipotent.  We do this best when we surrender to his Divine Providence.

Christian Faith

Believers cannot afford to be lukewarm about their Christian faith.  They must be like Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? who explained that we’re here to enjoy full purpose driven lives.  This means an uttermost commitment to the Christian faith.  It’s the way we walk that will reap God’s blessings.  This faithfulness guarantees we’ll enjoy eternal life.  Our experiences in life of trials and tribulations are like pin-pricks compared to the joys that await us in heaven.

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968), a Baptist minister and leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement said, “Life most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”’  Christ wants us all to become involved and be of service to those among us.  It doesn’t matter if it’s in “big or small ways.” But we’re to do something – anything that’s positive, and let our true light shine upon earth.

Good Lives

What determinants shape people’s lives?   Almost everyone will have his own list.  But it’ll be beneficial to focus on the following: 1) destiny, 2) intellect, 3) physical characteristics, 4) ethnicity, and 5) economics.  These factors aren’t listed in any order of importance.  It may well be that the  business-minded might put “economics” as being of prime importance to the other categories.

Destiny – If you believe in destiny this may be how you’ll view experiences in life.  For some people this feature is difficult to put a finger on.  There are those who think that with almost all things there’s free choice.  Some feel that they are always making choices, but they may not necessarily be doing so.  Thomas Merton (1915–1968), a Catholic writer and mystic wrote, “Love is our destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”  Merton in No Man Is an Island discusses this aspect of our lives, and provides insights about mankind’s nature.

Intellect – Undoubtedly some people are truly endowed with intellectual gifts and are considered geniuses.  Their ability to recall and interpret what they have read is phenomenal.  But some people may display their talents in other ways.  They may not be intellectually savvy, but are spiritually insightful.  As Christians we have at least one gift.  Maybe this special gift may go unrecognized, but it’s nevertheless God-given.

Physical Characteristics – This is how people are physically regarded by others.  Some may appear to be like eye-candy.  They are beautiful, charming, and charismatic. Others may be endowed with natural beauty, and their admirers make praiseworthy comments about them.  These persons are blessed with striking personalities, and when they walk into a room they are able to turn heads.  Joel Osteen (b. 1963), a televangelist and author said, “I believe that God put gifts and talents and ability on the inside of everyone of us.  When you develop that and you believe in yourself and you believe you’re a person of influence and a person of purpose, I believe you can rise up out of any situation.”  To Osteen, it’s more than the physical characteristics which matter.  He saw that with whatever qualities individuals have, the Creator can shape them into being people of influence.

Ethnicity – In some societies people’s ethnicity might be a cultural death sentence.  Prior to the 1960s it was this way in South Africa, Rhodesia, and to some extent the United States.  In many countries of the world skin color still determines privilege.  Even today in America this image persists in various forms, although this nation did elect a bi-racial president in Barack Obama.  People from every ethnic group are gifted in their own way, and are children of God.  Dis-proportionally in America, blacks because of a past history of slavery have been dogged with poverty, lack of education, poor housing and low living conditions as compared to whites.  Paul Ryan (b. 1970), a Republican U.S. representative of Wisconsin said, “Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.”  This remark goes to show that we ought to stop thinking about ethnic characteristics in order to move forward as communities.

Economics – Interesting enough what people do in life may determine how much money they have.  But this isn’t always the case.  Some individuals are born into rich or middle-class families, while others are poor from birth.  Some may be so poor that they are unable to see their way out of poverty.  Even with help there are those individuals – some of them hungry and homeless, who are still unable to make ends meet.  Like some of the indigent giving aid, training, and handouts won’t turn their lives around.  Yet there are those in society that continue to believe that all people can pull themselves up by their boot straps.  Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), a founding father of the United States wrote, “Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in his nature to produce happiness.  The more of it one has the more one wants.”  It’s obvious that money by itself is worthless, but what matters is how it’s used.  Charitable givers demonstrate that money used wisely can make a difference to those in need.

Be Lights in Our World

By the way you live let your light shine to all people. By speech and actions tell your story.  There must be brightness in your character that casts out the darkness of doubt.  You must shine like the sun, twinkle like stars, and be at peace in the world.  Remember to share love, and spread it to everyone – the happy and unhappy, rich, poor, hungry, and the homeless alike. Let your speech spread wisdom when you meet friends, strangers, and the brokenhearted of this world.  An author Wilferd Peterson (1900–1995) wrote, “Let your light shine.  Be a source of strength and courage.  Share your wisdom.  Radiate love.”

Another poet and writer Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919) said, “The man who radiates good cheer, who makes life happier wherever he meets it, is always a man of vision and faith.”  Are you able to forgive the indiscretions of people?  Must you forgive hurt when it’s done?   Can you forgive the wrongs of those who are rude, cruel and offensive?  Despite the nature of these wrongs you must still be willing to forgive your friends, neighbors, and enemies.  A professor of psychiatry of the State University of New York, Thomas Szasz (1920– 2012) wrote, “The stupid neither forgive nor forget, the naïve forgive and forget, the wise forgive but do not forget.”

Thoughts & Actions

As the saying goes, “Be kind to others.”  It’s always good to acknowledge acts of kindness.  Remember to send thank-you cards, notes of appreciation, and even peace offerings to those you don’t see eye to eye with.  By doing what’s right you’ll be expressing kindness by taking the high road.  It’s always wise to do favors to the least among us.  Encourage your friends, pat them on their backs, and say a few words of encouragement.  Never give up on people.  When conflicts arise with them think about what you can say and do to appease them.  An unknown writer wrote, “We greatly influence others with our thoughts, if our thoughts are kind, peaceful and quiet, turned only toward good, then we also influence ourselves and radiate peace all around us.”

You must bend over backwards by doing a favor, and building confidence in others.  It’s always time to compliment, support, and acknowledge the good people do.  This is what Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997), a Roman Catholic nun often did.  It was she who said, “Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God’s kindness.  Kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

 Our Demeanor

Like Jesus we must be an example of lights in the world.  By modeling Christ we ought to be living symbols of the good news to mankind.  Your lights mustn’t be hidden nor dimmed, but shine brightly on those we encounter.  Why hide your light under a bushel?  A Christian’s work is for all to see.  It’s hoped that through your lives people will come to know the Lord and glorify his name.  For all things you must be thankful.  When reaching out to people do so with joy, and by make his Word known to them.  In ministering if you’re able to reach one lost sheep, consider this was what you were called to do.  The hallmark of your faith is simplicity and humility.  In encountering people be a positive experience, for your walk is crowned by our Savior, a truly brilliant light.

 

Live in Peace

Hezekiah prayed for peace and security for his people (2 Kings 20:19).  “It is honorable to refrain from strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (Prov 20:3).  King David encouraged his followers to “depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Ps 34:14).  Eccl 9:18 states wisdom was better than weapons of war.  But in being at war, it is best to surrender to the power of God (1 Sam 14:1-14). An Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) prayed, “Lord make me an instrument of thy peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”  To Francis, prayers of love drive out hatred.  People will fear no one.  There’s the realization that men and women are able to live peaceably.

Who must offer the gift of peace?  It’s important that these gestures be made by peacemakers.  Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973), president of the United States said, “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must take one step at a time.”  Undoubtedly Johnson must have been thinking about lasting peace.  Peace for the wrong reasons won’t endure.  It’s fitting that everything comes together, one at a time.  Then nations can delight in well-drafted peace treaties.

Peace with Ourselves

The current Dalai Lama (b. 1935), of the newest school of Tibetan monks wrote, “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”  This is where the peace processes begins.  We’ve to do the work and ask ourselves the tough questions about living up to these challenges.  Such questions aren’t necessarily easy.

A rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jimi Hendrix (1942–1970) said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”  Hendrix viewed power as a stumbling block to peace.  It’s only when we recognize this we could see artificial divisions crumble.

Peace without Force

Albert Einstein (1879–1955), a German-born theoretical physicist wrote, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”  This fact is essential when nations come to the bargaining table, when all underlying grievances must be ironed out in coming to a meaningful agreement.

Negotiators’ attitude is essential during peace talks.  St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622), a Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva said, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”  During peace negotiations there are usually bumps in the road, but it’s wise to remember having the right attitude is essential.

Dada Vaswani (b. 1918), an Indian spiritual leader wrote, “Happiness, true happiness, is an inner quality.  It is a state of mind.  If your mind is at peace, you are happy.  If your mind is not at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy.  If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.”  Indeed, Vaswani was referring to having personal peace, but part of this journey requires courage, for our peace might well depend on others.

Victory in Suffering

No one likes to suffer.  Yet it is through the suffering of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who died on the cross at Calvary, our victory was won.  Jesus died the most excruciating and humiliating death.  As we learned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John he was condemned by a council of religious leaders, beaten, nailed to a cross, pierced, died, buried, resurrected, and ascended to heaven.  He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Like him people continue to suffer for various reasons.  To sinners such sufferings are like days of doom and are hopeless.  They gain nothing, save the disgrace, torture, misery, and death.  To Christians however suffering has meaning.  It may come as chastisement from Our Lord Jesus Christ for wrongs we’ve done and continue to do.  Over and over again the Holy Spirit may be warning us not to go down our chosen sinful paths.  Yet we insist in doing exactly how we feel, for many say they are having fun doing these unsavory deeds.  It’s then that the Lord may step in to try to change our minds because he loves us.  He brings us afflictions so as to guide us back to his flock (Heb 12:5-11).

Our Own Will

Still people have their own will and may decide not to listen to God’s voice.  He however will never give up on us.  God may decide to turn on more pressure when we refuse to listen.  People generally know when they are going astray.  Their consciences serve as uniquely accurate barometers concerning the way they live.  If they insist on being obstinate after being warned, and being prodded time and time again, the Lord may eventually give up on them.  This is when people’s hearts have grown hardened with sin.  The results of flagrant disobedience could lead to eternal damnation.

Gift of Suffering

Suffering might well be for our own good (Ps 94:12-13).  Saints and believers have learned vital lessons from such afflictions.  For one, they would have obtained insights of the relationship between their suffering with sinful behavior.  In times of illness they could well have experienced the love and tender care of their caregivers.  More likely they depended on family and friends who constitute the body of Christ. Physically and psychologically weakened they come to realize their limitations of their bodies, and  place their dependency upon a loving God.

In sickness these ailing persons become like gifts to all those who minister to them.  In their state of weakness they are living testimonies of what it means to be broken in Christ (1 Pet 4:12-16).  In their anguish the Lord gives them strength to show his love in the world.  These individuals are certainly outstanding Christians.  People most likely  recall the agony of family members, friends, and acquaintances while visiting hospitals and nursing homes.  These involved individuals joyfully embrace the Christian faith because they know that their victory has already been won through Jesus Christ, who willingly gave his life for us (1 Cor 15:57).