God is mysterious. So are His children, frail human beings who carry precious cargo. They carry the Son of God inside their hearts. Wherever they go they bring the blessing of Christ.
How can this be? That, my friend, is the same question Mary asked angel Gabriel when he brought the news to her that she will be pregnant with Christ. And his answer was (Luke 1:35):
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
Mary was the first person who carried the Son of God inside of her – albeit in a physical way. Children of God carry the Son of God in their hearts, which is just as real. Human beings take part in God’s mystery. The Holy Spirit made this possible.
The dawning of human hearts through the arrival of God’s Son has melted the ice. Hope has arrived, and if there is one thing this broken world needs, it is hope. God has an exceptional future prepared for this universe, mankind included. Glorious things are just around the corner. Our future is going to be astonishing.
It may be tempting to check out in anticipation for the things to come, but why would we want to miss out on the extraordinary blessings of today? The wonder of God’s kingdom has already begun. The Son of God planted the seed and the tree has been growing exponentially.
We have a tendency to get sidetracked by current events. All through our daily battles it is important to remember that God is with us. Anchored in the mystery of the invisible, inconceivable triune Godhead – Three in One, our human spirits thrive on hope. We can be hopeful because God has not given up on us. Daily, we are on His mind because He loves us and this, my friend, is the greatest mystery of all.
There are all kinds of issues arising from death. One is separation anxiety. Separation is a trauma most of us have to deal with at some point in our lives. For me it happened when I lost my Dad through divorce. When my parents divorced I was 2 years old. I couldn’t voice my confusion back then. If I could have, I would have said something like this: “Dad why did you leave me? I thought you loved me!”
My Dad really didn’t leave me. He was divorced from me.
Death does the same thing. Death divorces people from us.
Death divorced Jesus from the Trinity. For a while the Trinity was reduced to two. Talking about trauma here: It is one thing when families are torn apart; it is quite another when the Godhead is torn apart. Here is what Jesus prayed when He went through the agony of separation (Psalm 22:1):
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
God did not leave Jesus. He was divorced from Him.
The pain of separation has scarred all of creation. “It is finished” Jesus prayed shortly before His physical death on the cross. What is finished? Is Jesus finished? Obviously not, otherwise His last word would have been: “I am finished.” How about: “Death is finished”? Well, He is about to die, so that can’t be it. How about: “My punishment is finished?” Still, this doesn’t ring true to me because His punishment was the death sentence, and He was not dead yet. How about: “My mission is accomplished?” I believe this with all of my heart. It is His mission to save us from homelessness.
Our souls are housed in our bodies during our lifetime on Earth. Death eventually separates the two. A soul without a home is the greatest agony imaginable. Rootless, restless, hopeless, empty and lost our souls roam without a home. Divorced from God, our souls are drifting like gypsies. God hates divorce, and He sacrificed everything to reconcile. Accepting His sacrifice we have a place where we belong and Heaven can’t wait to welcome us home.
Hope is paramount, at least in the eyes of the apostle Paul. As he wrote a letter to his friends in Rome, he introduced God to them as the God of Hope. From Paul’s perspective, hope is one of God’s defining features – and it makes perfect sense because hope is the fuel that runs life’s engine. Giving up hope is similar to suicide. Hope is the underlying reason why we keep trying.
My German grandmother had always kept her dry sense of humor in situations that weren’t funny. She raised three of her five children mostly on her own – initially because her husband was engaged in World War II, later because she divorced him. One of her sayings as her children sat around the dinner table:
“Alles da Nur kein Papa!” which translated means:
“Everything there Just no Dad!”
That was her way of saying: “We’re doing pretty well without him.” My grandmother had guts and spunk. She was one of those people we call in German “Stehaufmännchen” – a tumbler who always gets up. In tough situations she has inspired me to do the same.
However, contrary to my grandmother’s awareness, nobody is fatherless. In the course of my life I have come to know God as the epitome of a parent. God is our Father and He is very protective of us. He cares. We have a place in His heart, and we have a place in this life. To misquote my grandmother:
Jim Morrison expressed a depressed mind in the lyrics of his last song Riders on the Storm:
“Into this house we’re born, into this world we’re thrown like a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan.”
The human heart seems to have its own digestive system. As our stomach passes the food, so our heart passes our human experience. Much like how we have different stomachs with different digestive abilities, so hearts process our human experience differently – never mind that we all have different experiences to begin with. I am writing this to create awareness and empathy, because what is meant to be an encouragement to say things like: “Pull yourself together, tomorrow is another day” may help a person with a more robust heart, but may actually be quite counterproductive to someone with a fragile heart.
Throughout their history some humans have been known to battle depression. In several books of the Bible we find characters exhibiting the symptoms of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, anxiety, and irritability. I find no better book than the book of Psalms to voice these emotions. In the book of Psalms we find people venting to God in a scathingly honest way (Psalm 143:7-8):
“Come quickly, Lord and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.”
King Solomon had an exceptional ability to express his depressed state of mind. Here is how he thinks – spoiler alert, it’s pretty dark (Ecclesiastes 3:18-20):
“Humans and animals come to the same end – humans die, animals die. We all breathe the same air. So there’s really no advantage in being human. None! Everything’s smoke! We all end up in the same place – we all came from dust, we all end up as dust. Nobody knows for sure that the human spirit rises to heaven or that the animal spirit sinks into the earth. So I made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do – that’s our lot. Who knows if there’s anything else to life?”
Many people wrestle with such thoughts. Everything on earth has an expiration date, our lives included. However, our dusty frame carries some precious cargo: it’s the wonderful message that God loves us. The less we look up to God, the less real His love can become to us. We can get lost in the muddiness of life that way. It’s important to turn our eyes on Jesus to remember: we are loved. Paul wrote to the Greeks in the city of Corinth (2 Corinthians 4:7):
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.”
I think our early history with God has a lot to do with our present brokenness. Our heart was made to love. We were created out of love: God created us to love us, and we were created to love Him and our human counterparts. We were not created to make war or to make money; we were created to be loved and to reflect this incredible love we’re receiving. That’s how we are originally wired. When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden major dysfunctions began to surface. We know now perhaps better than anybody that distance between Creator and created causes corruption and death.
Still, the good news is that we can have hope. Even though God may feel like a million miles away at times, He is close to the brokenhearted. He is known to be tender and merciful. Even as we age, which is death’s prelude, He renews us from the inside. And when our life is over, then we know that the best is yet to come.
Psalm 42:5: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
A flowering shrub named Lantana, very popular in desert climates, has always fascinated me. We used to have one in our backyard, and from time to time we cut her down to the bare bones. All that was left were leafless twigs, a quite depressing sight to any gardener. But wait – if you came back in less than a week, then voilà: brand-new sprouting little leaves are now covering the sticks. I guess this could count as an example for: “struck down, but not destroyed!”
Praying to God will give us a different outlook. God will bless us with a vision when there’s just brown and naked soil all around us. Opening our eyes, He lets us see the signs of spring in the middle of a long and dreary winter. We come across wintry situations everywhere in the Bible, probably because life’s dark seasons, as much as we hate them, happen to everybody; God encourages us to look up in those situations, just as He encouraged Prophet Elisha and his servant.
In the second book of Kings we read how Elisha befriended King Joram. King Joram’s legislature in Israel lasted around 10 years, between 850-840 BC. During that time war broke out between Aram-Damascus and Israel. When King Joram appeared to be at an advantage, the enemy investigated the matter and soon found out that it was Prophet Elisha’s doing who revealed their plans to Israel’s king on several occasions. Once the enemy got wind of the situation, they threatened to kill Elisha. So, under night cover an army of soldiers closed in on Dothan, Elisha’s hometown, and in the morning Dothan was militarily surrounded with no way out. Terrified, Elisha’s servant addressed the situation with his master. Following is an excerpt of the ensuing conversation (2 King 6:15-17):
“‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’
And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
It is all a matter of perspective! Of course there’s virtually no perspective when we are blind to the things that are actually working for us. In the end, we all need the Lord to remove our blinders, just as He did for Prophet Elisha’s servant. Have you ever been in a situation with your back to the wall and no way to go? God is famous for opening up new ways. After a mass-exodus out of Egypt, God led half a million people through uninhabitable wilderness for a time period extending to four decades. One of the most striking transits during that time was the hike of the young nation of Israel through the Red Sea.
If God can take care of half a million people in the Sinai Desert, He can take care of you and me in life’s bleak situations. If we are in the dark and can’t see the light, we need to pray to the Light of the World, Jesus. As Jesus reveals Himself to us, we will begin to see the world in a different light. We will experience hope. We will see the proverbial rose hidden beneath the deepest snows. To see that rose we must believe.
“Beneath the deepest snows, The secret of a rose Is merely that it knows You must believe in Spring!” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Jacques Demy, Michel Legrand)