Tag: 2 Corinthians

Ever Thought of Giving Up?

I’ll never forget the day a colleague came into my office and slammed a newspaper article on my desk. She was distraught. Her voice quivered, and she stuttered as she tried to tell me what had made the news. I picked up the newspaper page and as I listened to her recap of the story, I skimmed the article.

Suddenly she stopped. “Are you ok?” she asked.

I couldn’t speak. She asked again, “Are you ok?”

“You look ghostly pale,” she added.

I had to sit down. The news article was on the death of a single mother and her three small children. The young mother had killed each of her children, before she took her own life. (I’ll spare you the details, they’re too horrific.) I stared at the newsprint. It was impossible to comprehend how a mother could do that to her own children.

My colleague grabbed my left shoulder and shook me, trying to get me to speak. I looked up at her and started to cry. I couldn’t control the emotions. I couldn’t stop the tears.

Those three children were the same ages as my children. The mother was only a few years older than I.

How? How could this have happened? Had the people in her circle of influence not seen it coming? Had she been so clever to cover up what was going on inside her? – These were all questions my colleague asked that day. I’m sure there were many more people that had the same questions on their mind.

I know it’s possible to hide the truth from even the closest people in your life. Our lives are totally falling apart, but we can still act and put on a great show.

What a difference Jesus can make in our lives! When we choose him to take over our darkest places in our mind and in our heart, he gives us peace, his strength to overcome, and we gain perspective. He says to his disciples, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

We are not alone in our trials and sorrows. Jesus is right there, he is with us. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: 

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (The Message)

Do you ever think of giving up? Are you stuck and think there’s no way out of your circumstances? There is a way. The way is Jesus himself. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NLT)

No matter how hard it is, don’t give up. Don’t hide it. Talk to a friend or a family member and ask for help. There is always a way out. There really is. No matter what your mind keeps telling you, you are not alone.

By the grace of God I did make it this far. But I never forgot the woman who didn’t. Her story kept me clinging to Jesus more than ever. There were times I barely hung on by the skin of my teeth. God has been faithful, always! He provided all I needed all these years. He redeemed and restored beyond my wildest dreams.

God can do it for you as well. Will you let him into your darkest places of your life? He promises his peace and a light in your darkness. Don’t ever give up!

 

God comforts us so we can comfort others

It happened suddenly. Bam! Bam! Bam! Within a matter of days each of my children experienced one, and in some cases a few, devastating losses. By association, all six of us entered a season of suffering. It’s one thing when I am personally affected, but it’s a whole other suffering when you see your adult children go through tragedies, and there’s nothing I can do to manipulate, nothing I can do to take it away or even ease their pain.

I’m about 6 months away from those tragic events. It’s still raw.  Read more

From Lent of Denying to Lent of Giving

What if – instead of concentrating on what to give up or deny myself during Lent – I would concentrate on what I give during Lent?

My “Lent program” hasn’t worked for various reasons. I realize it was all about me. I totally missed the point of Lent this year.

In my study of Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church I found two chapters on giving. The words in chapters eight and nine opened my eyes to the wrong path I was on this Lenten season. I decided to switch gears and concentrate on giving instead.

Here is the beauty about giving:

  • Someone is praying during their time of need. I can be the answer to that prayer if I follow God’s calling to give.
  • There was a time in my life where I was on the receiving end. Today I am giving because I received. Just as St. Paul points out to the church in Corinth: the Jerusalem church is in trouble, they need help. One day the church in Corinth might need help, and the Jerusalem church will be there to give out of their abundance.
  • But I can also give forward if I have not experienced a time of need. I don’t know what will happen in a year or two or ten. Since I’m in a position to give today, why not answer a person’s prayer and be generous.
  • Giving creates community. Giving in community creates a shared purpose and focus. We are connected through the act of giving.
  • The receivers will “joyfully express their thanks to God.” (9:12) In addition, “they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.” (9:14) As a church we have sponsored and helped churches in Cuba, and a week ago a team returned from Nicaragua where they worked on a school expansion project. We have heard from people receiving the gifts how they thanked God for it, and how passionately they prayed for our church.
  • “God is the one who provides…” (9:10) When I believe that all I have comes ultimately from Him, I know it’s not for my sole benefit, but to share with others.
  • There is God’s promise of provision in Psalm 112: “Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly… They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to take care for them… They share freely and give generously to those in need.”

If you don’t have a project to give to right now, may I suggest one? Suzie Eller and the Living Free Together Team have joined with Mission India to provide literacy classes for women. Click here for more info and how to give.

If you have time and would like to read what St. Paul writes to the church in Corinth in chapter 8, here it is (New Living Translation):

So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving.Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.

I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.

You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.

10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.

And in chapter 9:

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!