When my parents were World War II refugees, they lived in various Displaced Persons camps run by the U.S. and other Allies. Sometimes it would be so cold that there was frost on the INSIDE walls of their “accommodations”. (I don’t know exactly what their living quarters were like,) At some point in there, my older brother (a baby!), one paternal uncle, and my paternal grandmother also lived in the same camp(s). At least they had shelter! Traumatic as it all was, thank you Allies (and, ultimately, God), for keeping my family alive! Others, as you know, suffered considerably more: in concentration camps, in battles on land, sea, and sky, and elsewhere.
LIFE IS A GIFT! And, I’m so grateful to live in a home with heat and hot water.
Corrie ten Boom was in a concentration camp during World War II, because her family had hidden Jews in their home. She decided to take seriously the Scripture, “… give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), so she gave thanks for the fleas in her barracks. Sooner or later, she learned that the guards would avoid her barracks as much as possible, because of the fleas. In that way they did not get as much abuse as they might have. Perhaps most of us are not as faith-filled as Corrie ten Boom, but there is certainly a lesson to learn from her.
War is probably horrific for everyone touched by it, but perhaps it’s appropriate to also remember the positives.
Why do some (or perhaps all of us) encounter great trials and tribulations? I propose a few reasons here, several or all of which could occur together:
- We are being tested by God. It can be an opportunity for growth, to trust in Him more.
- We are being chastised by God. ” … for the Lord disciplines those whom He loves, and chastises every child whom He accepts.” (Hebrews 12:6). This is a good thing, because it shows that God loves us enough to correct us.
- We are suffering for our own or other people’s poor choices. We make bad decisions, or others take out their frustrations on us.
- It’s just part of the fallen human condition. Because of original sin, we all suffer consequences such as illness, accidents, death, etc.
No matter the reason, we must trust that God is with us through these difficulties. I don’t see any other reason to hope.
You feel a feeling,
You think it’s true,
But maybe it’s
You think a thought;
It seems so right,
But thoughts can come
From faulty sight.
You’re in a rut
You must step back —
A thought vacation.
You need a standard
Of what is true.
Can’t be your feelings —
Truly, you’re loved —
At least from above.
If others mistreat you,
Don’t let them deceive you
About your worth,
About your value.
You’re precious, you’re fine;
Your worth is sublime.
You are enough —
A diamond in the rough.
Quit being a victim;
Let God’s loving grace in.
Thank you, God,
For the quiet of early August.
The quiet streets,
The quiet mornings;
School’s not yet started.
The quiet neighborhoods —
People gone to their cabins at Tahoe,
Or on road trips, or plane trips:
Gone to weddings (or funerals) —
Gone to see relatives.
Thank you for the cool morning air,
All the better with the silence.
But birds do sing and twitter;
I hear airplanes in the sky,
And a mother’s lullaby.
Sometimes the earth has peace,
You can drink up the silence,
You can remember childhood days
Of endless summer,
And let today be your gratitude.
God comes to me in my grumbling
(Though surely I do not deserve),
Comes to offer His faithful love,
And for His love I have no words.
Nothing I do (or do not do)
Has bearing on His gracious love.
I’m helpless, hopeless, to be sure;
Still He pours down grace from above.
How can I learn to just let go,
And let the Lord God have His way?
Learn how to love, from what He does,
And be underneath His sway?
When will I learn that He controls,
No matter what things may portend?
Then I can be a little child —
Trust, peace, and His joy be my end.
Tempted to wallow in bitterness,
Tempted to sink in self-pity.
Conflicts threaten to do me in;
Inner thoughts sometimes are not pretty.
Trying to live in reality;
Having to face what is painful.
Need to refocus, see God’s in control;
Refocus and keep being grateful.
Maybe I choose to be miserable —
Keep looking for all that is bad.
Neglecting to know that God’s in control:
Forgetting that God wants me glad.
Trust is the way to go forward;
Accept what I cannot control.
Let others be what they’re destined to be,
And live in my God-given role.
On the brink of eternity,
I pause and look behind —
The people known,
The work grindstones,
The things I owned —
What do they mean?
For nothing lasts,
And all must change,
And jumbled thoughts,
All disarranged —
Those people I looked up to
Seem to grow so small;
I don’t know them at all.
I cannot tell what God is doing —
What purpose does He have?
So many years ago,
All seemed bright and full of promise,
But gradually, the light did dim,
And now the world seems grim.
I cannot tell what God is doing,
But surely He lives —
As He slowly writes my story.
This life is one of tears and pain;
We once get up, and fall again.
Evil, sin, seep through the cracks;
The heart of man — God’s peace it lacks.
And yet, with patient, open arms,
Our Savior calls us from all harm.
A different path He offers us —
Of peace, of joy, of deep’ning trust.
When evil grows, when peace is shattered,
Cling to the cross; His Love’s what matters.
Have patience, and with growing faith,
Let God be guide to glorious fate.
How small I am
In Your immensity;
In Your luminosity.
Who am I
That You should care for me?
A wretched creature —
Yet destined for eternity.
How tiny I am
In Your vast universe;
And yet, invited,
With Your Heart to converse.
In Your joy and sorrow —
Through present, past
And all tomorrows.
In Your crosses, trials,
I can partake.
And thus in heaven
Your face will contemplate.
Don’t hold on too tightly;
See the light shining brightly —
Let earthly things grow dim;
Hold onto life lightly.
Your wealth, your possessions,
But briefly will last.
What good do they do you,
When too closely grasped?
We’re just passing through,
And life’s but a gleam.
Just love for God and others
Makes worthy our theme.
We’re on our way through;
The world seems an illusion,
With dangers and snares,
Fraught with tears and confusion.
There’s just one exception:
The good that we live,
The love that we share
And compassion we give.
One of the criminals, a thief, who was crucified with Jesus, said to him, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:42)”. Somehow he knew Jesus’ name and that Jesus had a kingdom!
Was Jesus that famous? Did everyone in Jerusalem know about him? Perhaps it was because of the sign above Jesus that Pilot had ordered placed there. The sign declared, “Jesus, King of the Jews”.
In another gospel, it states that, “And the robbers who were crucified with [Jesus] also reviled him … (Matthew 27:44).” Either the two gospels are inconsistent, or there was a transformation in one of the thieves. He went from reviling Jesus, to, in effect, asking his forgiveness. He realized his sin and that he deserved punishment, whereas Jesus was innocent (Luke 23:39-41).
It is interesting to imagine how “the good thief” came to this conclusion. He may have known something about Jesus before the time of execution. Or, perhaps observing how Jesus bore his own suffering, he realized that Jesus was not just a man, but God also.