My church is studying Revelations, the last and most puzzling book in the Bible. As my pastor said on Sunday, the special effects from this book should guaranty a block buster movie, but any attempts at turning Revelations into a movie have failed terribly. It’s probably because no one really understands what the imagery is all about. My church does a wonderful job of “Teaching, Not Preaching”, as I like to describe the way they deliver their message each week. This week the pastor discussed the pain and suffering that mankind endures in their lives and ways to move past that pain and become stronger and more determined than ever before.
We often question God about why we have to suffer from things we didn’t cause or “deserve.” Revelations is the guide book for not only surviving our tribulations, but moving past the pain and coming out on the other side, strong and hopeful. We want to share the word of the Lord with the world, having just survived this dark and painful time and yet feeling happier and more content than we ever have in our lives. My pastor shared that no minister just decided to follow that path from living a carefree and easy life. To become a passionate messenger for The Lord, you must experience the darkness and solitude in order to proclaim the mercy and love that only God can fill our lives with.
The question is how do we survive these painful times in our lives? Everyone asks their pastors if the times we are living through are “The End of Time” as described in Revelations. Isn’t any war, natural disaster or any type of human suffering that we go through, a tribulation that points to the end of the world? Even if it is something that just impacts our personal life, it can often feel like the end of the world, and some people just can’t move past the pain and blame God for the suffering. God doesn’t bring these things on any of us, things just happen for no good reason. God never forgets about any of us, and can bring peace and understanding to our journey, helping us heal and become happy again. Even in our death, we know as Christians that our lives in heaven will be filled with so much joy and happiness, that our time on earth will seem like a dress rehearsal for the “real deal”.
What I learned on Sunday was profound. There are 7 steps for moving on with our lives and surviving whatever life throws at us. The number 7 is represented many times in the Bible and often means “complete” or “finished”. It has many other meanings, but I like that definition, as it represents the 7 days of creation described in Genesis, the 7th day being the day that God rested.
1) Ask yourself what part of this pain you might have caused. Even with health issues, there might have been something you could have avoided. However, you might have been just an innocent bystander. Either way, accept that whatever happened did so for a reason and you might as well get used to it. Stop asking “why?”
2) Once you accept the pain, ask God for strength and courage during this time of darkness.
3) Find a friend who will be completely honest with you about how you are handling the situation and how you could handle things differently and more positively.
4) Do not hold onto grudges or think about how to revenge whatever or whoever might have caused this change in your life.
5) Come up with a plan to use this experience to help other people who might be going through the same thing that you are. Share your experience with the world in hopes of bringing the word of God into their lives so that they too can become stronger and more determined to share their experience with others.
6) Find a community who understands what you are going through, and who will embrace you with love and compassion.
7) Rejoice and tell the world that you are a survivor and ready to share the Lord’s message of hope and redemption every single moment of your life.
I didn’t realize until Sunday’s message, that I have been moving through all 7 steps outlined above since April and have moved into the final and most important step for survival. I am a minister for The Lord who can tell you personally, that these steps actually do work. I have reached the most miraculous point in my life that is not totally dependent on family and friends for my happiness. My mother often asks if I am lonely and I always respond the same way, that I am never lonely. I meet friends even when I am just having coffee at a hotel, because I look for them. I talk with them about my blog and quietly slip in that I attend my church that teaches me every week about God. This almost always opens a conversation with them, as most people I meet also attend that church, or they are a Christian who is always hungry to talk about their love of God. How can I be lonely when I am surrounded by a community of Christians and God every moment of my life?
Don’t be afraid to meet a stranger and open up the door to Christianity. It is so easy to do and if you feel resistance, just move past it and realize you might have changed that person’s life forever. Maybe you planted a tiny seed that might take root someday later in their life. Be a messenger for God and share his message of love and salvation to the world.
I am undergoing the second phase of getting stronger and healthier this Friday, with another 8 hour surgery scheduled for early in the morning. I ask for your prayers to help guide my kind surgeon’s hands, and to give him strength and wisdom. The Lord will be by my side and I will wake up feeling hopeful of the next phase in my journey of re-birth.