Pastor John’s message yesterday (29 June 2014) on “Building Blocks – Hope” made me reflect on my hope experiences.
Apart from asking myself how I may be able to share or give hope to others, I also contemplated on the quality of hope I am able to give.
Who is able to give true hope in a world with so many unfulfilled promises? God is building something in us and the capacity to both life and communicate hope is one of the ‘building blocks.’
My hope experiences have taught me that it’s only when I put my total and absolute trust on what God can do that I am able to hope completely in God.
I have learned that to experience real hope, I need to “let go 100% and let God 100%”.
What makes hope less is the human element portion that we put in.
I contemplated that if I put any iota of hope on my personal capabilities, it becomes my germ of a doubt on God’s power.
This doubt, like any germ, if always present in situations that demand my total or complete hope in God, would multiply and totally destroy whatever true hope that’s left in me.
Yes, that small amount of doubt can bring about hopelessness.
Also, if my hope is based on my capabilities and resources, then my hopeless situations were settled more on my personal effort rather than on God’s Almighty power.
Looking back at the many hopeless instances I went through, I realised that what made me feel hopeless and desperate was when I focused more on what I can do, cracking my brain trying to sort out possible solutions.
However, when I let go and put my hands up in full surrender, accepting my incapability and focusing intently on what God can do, anticipating the solutions He already has for me, my hope becomes strong.
Then peace and quiet govern my body and spirit because my hope is God and Him alone.
Friends, may this short reflection inspire you to evaluate your hope experiences.
May our hope grow more and more as we build it on nothing less but Jesus Christ.
Jesus called out with a loud voice,“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46
Of the seven sayings of Jesus Christ on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” is considered as his last words. After saying this he then breathed his last according to Luke.
Take note that Jesus “called out with a loud voice”. Everyone around the area with eyes focused on the bodies hanging on the cross must have heard him.
The power of Jesus’ last words proves that he is the extra-ordinary person, God’s only Son whom He sent to redeem us.
In saying his last words, Jesus Christ submitted and committed his spirit to His Father, trusting and empowering Him to carry out His work beyond physical death.
The last words of Jesus make me think about the conversations I had with friends who have gone ahead.
Please allow me to share a couple of them. I got their last words from our conversation through Facebook.
Maricar was a classmate in high school. A year before her passing in July 2013, I got in touch with her and ministered through prayers. Here’s her last words:
Please pray for my total healing. I surrender everything to the Lord and I know my faith will heal me. thank you so much classmate. I really appreciate all your concern and prayers….
I met Brutus at Faith Baptist Church in Manila. His real name is Ephraim Jacildo. In March 2013, I learned of his condition so I got in touch via FB to encourage him. He rested peacefully on 12 April 2014. His last words:
God has been manifesting His sovereignty in my condition in so many different ways. Yes I still have many questions but I trust the Lord will carry me when I need Him.
Surely, we are saddened when friends and loved ones leave but their last words bring comfort and hope, isn’t it?
The greatest comfort and hope that we have is in Jesus Christ who conquered death through his resurrection.
My friends, if you were to die today, what will be your last words?
As you end your life on earth, will you bless or curse? Will you surrender humbly or struggle in pride?
In the event of sudden death, some might have ready their last will and testament already. I wonder if they have included their faith testament?
To whom are you giving your spirit? Make sure you are ready and willing to commit your spirit to God.
The power of the last words transcends this world as we trust God to raise us from the dead and to go on living eternally in our new glorified bodies.
Think about firming up your last words now.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sunset at Fakaofa Atoll, Tokelau by Ross-Waugh
A month ago I went back to St. Kitts. I had not visited this beautiful island, a home away from home, in 5 and a half years. I had served as a community development worker here.
However, five and a half years ago I was assaulted, strangled, beaten, robbed, and an attempted rape took place on my body, mind, and spirit. 4 years ago I went through a trial that sent my attacker away to prison for 46 years.
Since my assault I have fought through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, nightmares, anxiety, and fear to work to overcome the storm and become healthier and better.
My trip to St. Kitts was a big deal for me. I had many positive experiences serving there, but my last encounter on the island was so hurtful, traumatic, painful. I thought that my visit to St. Kitts was primarily to have the courage to visit the prison and confront the man who assaulted me. For different reasons that did not happen, but God knows!
I remember sitting in the home of my adopted family during my visit last month. On the local station they were showing a celebration on television of the men in prison. I was confused. People in the community where seeing on television a live party for men in prison. They had a live band, food, music, and the whole works. I was still confused.
Yes, people could see their loved ones who were in prison via television. But, what about the people who were watching whose perpertrator’s were in that same prison. How did we as victims and survivors feel? Did we want to see the rapists, attackers, perpertrator, and robbers who hurt us?
Even though it was only television my heart raced. What if I saw him, the man who hurt me? It had been years since I had an anxiety attack but I felt it coming. I took a deep breathe and was about to leave the room, but before I left I asked my adopted sister. “Could you please turn the station off? The man who assaulted me is in that prison.” She quickly changed the channel and noted, “you should have told me.” Deep breathe!
My trip to St. Kitts ultimately became one of the most restorative experiences of my life. I revisited every place that had brought me peace at one point, but had also brought me fear at another point. I visited all of the girls I had taught and who taught me. They are now working women!
I went to the churches I had once taught and preached at. I reconnected with them, teaching and preaching again! I walked down the deserted path where I had once seen my attacker. Instead of seeing his face, I saw the sun, palm trees, and small monkey’s! I walked around the community and instead of being afraid, I received multiple hugs and cheek kisses from friends daily.
Though I was afraid to walk alone at night, I slept peacefully. No nightmares, no pain, and when anxiety came up I took a deep breathe, said a prayer, and talked to God until I fell asleep again.
Healing is a journey and sometimes it is a battle to get to the other side of a storm. But, it’s possible. With God all things are possible.
Years ago my aunt told me to keep this scripture close. She was right.
Psalms 91:1-16 (NKJV) reads:
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” 3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. 8 Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. 14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”
Here is a suggestion for consideration on how to gain a balanced perspective on life, one that brings inner contentment. Without integrating these insights, life will be frustratingly like a rocking chair that keeps one moving but leading nowhere.
Happiness comes from within. It does not depend upon what happens outside. If you cannot be happy with who you are inside, no amount of external items can give you inner joy. Here is the news: The promises of advertised products by the media are just that – promises. They are undeliverable.
How things happened cannot be changed. Many people spend inordinate amount of time wishing things should have happened differently in the past. “If Only” is the title of their daily song. This is waste of precious energy. The wish to make things happen differently will not be granted. Things happened the way they did. The fact needs to be accepted for one to move on.
Love for others stems from love of self. Altruism is like a piece of cake – you cannot share with someone what you do not have. This love is not romantic. It is a result of hard look at self with all strengths and weaknesses and celebrating the whole package.
To seek outside help is not weakness. If people decide to seek help when problems are just developing they would have prevented themselves and those who are close to them from needless suffering. It takes enormous amount of courage to ask for help. And it takes strength to summon that courage.
Mistakes are unavoidable. It is not a question of “Will I make mistakes?” It is a question of “How do I learn from mistakes I will be making?” The idea of potentially making mistakes frees one from the lure of perfectionism and the need to do it right all the time, everywhere.
Maintain balance between solitude and community. Both are needed in life. To be alone all the time can foster acute loneliness. To be in community all the time may result to burn-out. We need to be part of a greater whole but we also need to isolate our slice from the bigger pie. The former promotes validation while the latter could lead to quietness and inner peace.
Release that which is beyond control.It will be a happy day when someone learns to release that which is beyond his power to amend. What do you do with the traffic, weather, what others say or think, your family of origin, your personal appearance, or past experiences could determine to a large degree your journey to the land called “bliss.”
Welcome the opportunity to share. Life is not just about the “me.” Those who have learned the value of sacrifice for others can teach us a lesson or two about life’s meaning. The intent of experiencing prosperity is not to make one better off than others. It is to provide golden opportunity to share to meet the needs of others. Failure to participate in this endeavor could stand as major block to real satisfaction.
Advocate for truth with courage.There is an urgent need for this advocacy in society today. Lies and deceit seem to abound. Many will take the route of falsehood just to reach personal goals. In the end falsehood breeds pretense which breeds hypocrisy. A noble young person would not like to model his life from that of a hypocrite! And a house will not stand whose foundation is pretense.
Learn to learn from unpleasant events. This often calls for rigor in thinking. The difference between a contended individual from one who wallows in discontent is not in the amount of painful events for all are exposed to both pleasant sunshine and stormy rain. It is what these two groups think about these events. The former looks at them as cup half- full while the latter as cup half-empty.
Life is both body and spirit.It is well-documented that failure to take care of the body through nutrition and physical exercise results to either diseases of excess or of inadequacies. Failure to care for the spirit is responsible for the spiritual hunger and thirst which is at the very core of the manic pursuit of its twofold substitute: materialism and addiction. The nurture must not be done to one without the other. Nurture of the body alone will yield good appearance but shallow. Nurture of spirit alone results to religious rigidity that lacks attractiveness to observers.
About Dr. Val Gonzales
Val Gonzales (PhD, LCDC, LPC) serves as Senior Minister of Dallas Metroplex International Church in Dallas, Texas and does adjunct teaching at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas.
Originally trained in pastoral counseling, his work experience includes hospital-based program coordinator in psychiatry clinical research, program therapist with emphasis on individual/group counseling and family education, and triage manager for managed care. He has been active in higher education for more than 23 years.
Dr. Gonzales is an active member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors and the American Counseling Association. He is married to Chelly Molinos Gonzales and they have 2 children: Philippe Eirenaues and Tina Rachel.
For whatever destruction the Typhoon Yolanda brought on our hometown of Ajuy, Iloilo province, Capiz, Panay Island, Cebu, Samar, Leyte and the many places of Visayas, Philippines, our prayers are with you all as we rise up and build again.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippines 4:7)
[note radius=”5″]This was my last year’s meditation, the day after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit our hometown and for 24 hours we had no communication nor any news about the aftermath.[/note]
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What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us draw strength from these Bible verses as we go through trials, such as death of a loved one.
The promises are powerful. It’s beyond time and space – NOTHING will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And therein lies our tremendous hope – for those who have gone before us, maybe a son, a daughter, a sister, a brother, our loved ones.
Thank you Lord God for your absolute assurance – not sickness, not depression, not suicide, not a broken heart, not grief – NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.