Sunday, August 30, 2009

Perseverance in Suffering

How do we see suffering? We often picture suffering as those of people with torn clothes and blood stains in their bodies, or hunger and discrimination for those people enduring the life of scarcity and paucity.

But what does it really mean to suffer in Christ? Does that mean we have to really die on the cross just like Him?

No. Christ never asked for that ‘cause He already did that for us. What He’s asking us is just to have faith in Him alone.

But then again, as Christians, we are always prone to persecutions and mockery by those people who are still blinded by wordly things.

Take for example in your office: Everyone’s excited for Friday night because it means party and gimmick time again. Your colleagues asked you to come and party all night with them—of course, that also means drink alcohol with them. Drinking alcohol is not forbidden in the Bible, but it’s drunkenness that is. Not wanting to be drunk, you begged off from their invitation. The minute you said no, thank you, you were already greeted with boos and name-callings such as ‘baduy,’ ‘loser,’ ‘boring,’ etc. Sometimes, people would even comment, “ganyan pala maging Christian, nagiging baduy!” See, you are being taunted just because you want to follow God’s rule.

Or in school during exams: When your classmates would tell you they’ll sit next to you because they’re planning on cheating, and you decided to sit near the teacher. As expected, they will tell you: “wala ka naman pakisama eh. Kaya nga kami tumabi sa’yo para makakopya eh tapos tatabi ka kay ma’am. Christian ka pa naman pero ang damot mo!”

As Christians, we are often being observed by people and as if waiting religiously for us to commit a mistake so they could mock us to prove that being a Christian is not really a good choice.

But here’s the catch: Whether we chose to be righteous and follow God’s rules or continue following the rules of this world, we will still suffer whichever way. The difference is that with God, we are bearing under righteousness but there’s a wonderful promise of salvation we are looking forward to. But with sin, we are also suffering but with nothing to look forward to.

Friends, it is a lot wonderful to suffer because you are fighting for the name of Jesus than to suffer because of your sins. Suffering for God will yield us a good future, a good life ahead with Him. But letting ourselves suffer because of our worldly pleasures will only bring us to eternal damnation.

I particularly liked the example of Pastor Nixon in this morning service about an employee who is doing her best to get her work done but her boss still criticizes her. A normal person would deal with this situation by means of not exerting effort anymore or be unmindful of her job. But a persevering person would deal with it in a way that God would want her to deal with it—by continuously doing her best because she knows that it is for God that she’s doing her work and for her boss. And as what Pastor Nixon put it, “hold on more to God rather than on your boss.”

God never sleeps. He is never deaf nor blind of our sufferings. He knows very well what to do in all our situations. There are moments in our lives when we feel God is very far away because He is not answering our prayers. The truth is, He is just beside us. God never leaves us. In those trying times, God might just want us to learn something from our present situation that He lets us endure it first.
Sometimes, the reason why He is not giving us what we’re asking Him is because we are still unripe for that desire of ours. It’s not our season yet. It is best to wait patiently for the Lord’s coming because it really pays waiting for Him. The Lord’s coming here means the Lord’s perfect time. Not a single soul regretted waiting for God’s perfect timing.

Let us not focus on the many whys we have in our lives, it will do us no good. Rather, let’s focus on the WHO that could make things possible for our own goodness. Hold on more to God and not on the negativity that this world is putting in our hearts or the people that’s making our life miserable.

And I Love You So...

It was August 21st--our 104th monthsary. Friday night and I had nothing to do so I decided to watch And I Love You So--Out of curiosity because a friend told me I could relate to this movie very well. So i did.

And yes, that friend of mine was right. I could very well relate. At what point? No, it isn't only a single point because there were lots, so here are the points:

• Lara’s husband’s name is Oliver. My one true love’s name is Oliver.
• Oliver in the movie died in October. My Oliver died in September; his birth month was October. We became lovers in October.
• Lara and Oliver in the movie only got to spend 5 months as husband and wife since Oliver died on the very day of Lara’s birthday. Me and Oliver got to spend two wonderful years together as boyfriend and girlfriend before God finally called him back to His kingdom. Lara’s luckier since she was able to marry her greatest love and got to be called Mrs Oliver Cruz, while I could only dream of mine and Oliver’s wedding and just settle on adding his surname to my name through my yahoo mail account.
• Oliver’s family in the movie loves Lara so much that the mother even asked Lara to just live with them in their house. Likewise for me, Oliver’s family also does love me, and they never blame me for whatever happened to him. They continued loving me and showing me importance and great affection even after Oliver’s death.
• Lara in the movie is a pre-school teacher and runs her own pre-school which was provided for her by Oliver. I am currently preparing for my entrance exam in UP for a Masters in Education Teaching in the Early Grade so I could be equipped with enough knowledge to teach in pre-school and have my own pre-school in the future.
• Lara in the movie wears some of the stuff of Oliver such as his watch. I used to wear Oliver’s pajama pair and his shirt and sando. There were also moments before when I used to put all of his stuff beside my pillow at night just so I could feel him near me. I stopped doing those things, but I’m still using his blanket.
• Lara talks to Oliver like as if he’s still alive. I used to talk to Oliver every waking moment of my life since he left. I talked to him in the morning, lunchtime, dinner time, and before I go to sleep. I also talk to him whenever I visit him in the cemetery. (But of course, things changed when I became a Christian)
• There was a part in the movie when Lara refused to accept the love that Sam Milby was offering her just because she doesn’t want to forget the love she gave her husband. She doesn’t want to create new memories with another man.
A year after my Oliver died, I met a guy who openly confessed his love for me and that he’s willing to leave her girlfriend that time for me. Alright, alright, that’s seems sooo superficial for those people who’ve known me since I was in grade school, but guys, that’s super true, too I myself can’t believe that was true
But of course, being the love-struck with my first love that I am, I refused that offer, and I haven’t heard from him after.
The second year after Oliver’s death, another guy came into the picture and would like to take Oliver’s space. Again, I refused. On the third year, another guy came again, and that time, I seemed to like the guy, too. But then again, like is very much different from love so I refused that guy’s offer, too. On the 4th year, two guys showed their interest for me, which I both carefully declined.
After Oliver died, I honestly felt my hair is already reaching the floor I wasn’t wooed by guys before—to that effect. Before I met Oliver, I even used to feel I’m never pretty enough to be liked by guys. And then suddenly, there were those guys who openly professed their affection for me. In other occasion, I might have accepted their offer one by one (dyosa aq!), but then again, my life was made different with Oliver’s coming into my life and his death. When he died, I felt that my heart died with him, too, that it can never beat again. My heart belongs to him and I wanna die loving him the same way he died loving only me. It was just so hard opening your heart again to welcome a new love because you know in your heart that it’s already taken in full by your one and only love.

• One memorable part in the movie for me was when Lara tried doing the things she and Oliver did together when he was still alive, like watching movies or eating in a fine-dining restaurant, and going to the places they used to go to together. If I could relate, I was once as coward as she was in the start. I used to be so afraid passing by those places we used to visit together, or even eat the foods we used to eat together. It took me three or four years before I finally watched a movie in a movie house again. I felt so pathetic that time. I felt my world suddenly became small that the things I could do suddenly became limited just because I was afraid to inflame the pain in my heart again. But then again, God’s very good that He really helped me throughout my mourning and adjusting phase. I didn’t plan on it but one morning, I suddenly felt ready to visit those places I used to avoid and let myself watch a movie alone. That was really magical. I suddenly felt emancipated.

For now, those were just the things that I deemed common between me and the story of Lara in the movie. I don’t have any inkling if God would want our story to be akin until the end—which is me finding a new love again. One thing’s for sure, I still love my Oliver, I’ll continue loving him and I’ll never ever forget him until the day of our reunion. However, that doesn’t mean my heart’s still close for a new love. God already opened it. I’ll just let God lead the way for me. After all, He is the creator of the best love stories in this world