“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” ~ Mathew 5: 4

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”~ Revelations 21:4

It’s almost February and April is around the corner. Oh how I anxiously wait for this month all year around! Why is April a big deal? Because it will be the 22nd anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, in which I lost my beloved parents and 2 of my siblings. Unfortunately, although a lot has happened since then, it  still feels like it was yesterday to me!

Though I still grieve for them with a deep sorrow and always will, however, I have encountered someone who has deeply touched my shattered heart with a mighty healing power and gave me a reason to rejoice forever: my Lord and King Jesus! He has turned my mourning into dancing! Therefore, I grieve with hope!

That’s my prayer for anyone who has lost someone close, especially tragically. I know how you feel!

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” ~ Romans 12:15

My Dearly Beloved Parents

My Dearly Beloved Parents

Today, I am again reminded that life is extremely short and that tomorrow is NOT guaranteed! I knew that already, but my weary heart needs a constant reminder. This evening, I learned of a death of someone so young and full of life. This young man was a newlywed to an extremely beautiful young woman who is a close friend to my family in Rwanda.

He died of a motorcycle accident, the most popular means of public transportation in Rwanda, besides buses. Quite frankly, a cruel fact may be that those commercial motorcycles probably claim more lives than any other cause of death in Rwanda.

I weep so deep with this very young widow. My heart breaks for her, her family and many whose loved ones have been taken away so suddenly. This life begs more questions than answers unfortunately. You may have many examples. My prayer is that the whole world will come to know how much God loves us despite our circumstances. That’s very important.

You see, the Bible tells me that one day, God will make everything new, and wipe away all our tears. Our mourning will be no more. This gives me hope! And that we will see again all those who died in the Lord, in the new life that knows no sorrow.

There, hatred, discrimination, accidents, killings, injustice, tragedies, natural disasters, diseases, illness, hunger, wars, all will lose battle. Love & peace will be victorious and eternal life will be our song forever!

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me,“Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” ~ Revelations 14:13

Father God, I pray that You’ll comfort all those who are grieving & hurting. You alone are their Strength, Shield and Salvation. You are capable of consoling them even when the outpouring sympathy & support is not enough. Will You send them Peace, surround them with Your unfailing Love and Kindness! Will You be their only Joy, Hope and Refuge! Now and always!

In Jesus name! Amen!

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”~ Revelations 21:4

Perseverance

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” ~ H. W. Longfellow

I have to sadly admit that I am illiterate when it comes to car functionality. I am one of those people who lose their mind when a light goes off on the car dashboard. Of course I know when I am out of gas, or forget to release the emergency brake. That’s pretty much it. Oh, I almost forgot that if the gas cap isn’t appropriately twisted, the check engine light goes off too. Trust me, I know what I am talking about!

Few years ago, on my way to work, I had a flat tire. Since I was close to a gas station, I walked to ask for help, but to no avail. One customer offered to come with me and asked me to open the trunk. To my surprise, he pulled out a smaller tire. Until that day, I had no idea there was a spare tire that lived in my trunk! After he replaced it, he reminded me to make sure I buy a new one before the end of the day. I offered him the cash I had, but he refused it. When I insisted, he declined the offer and walked away. He actually disappeared.

Another day, I was driving and all of the sudden, a light goes off on my car dashboard, and it’s one I have never seen before. As I researched on it, I found out that it was related to the airbag malfunction. I then took the car to the mechanic, who stated that that fault can only be checked and corrected by a Toyota dealer. He however assured me that I could drive the car with that light on, as long as I  don’t get involved in an accident. With his confirmation, I imagined the repair cost being super expensive, so I put that subject on the back burner, at least until the next inspection. Surprisingly, the car passed 3 inspections with no problem. Hence, I didn’t see an urgency to get it fixed. I then put the matter to rest, leaving it for the day I’d plan to sell it.

About 3 years later, I received a letter from Toyota Motor Sales, informing me that all the cars similar to mine, the same make, model and year, have been recalled because of a safety issue that may cause airbag inflators to rupture and propel fragments towards occupants in the event of a crash. I could not believe my eyes. As instructed, I immediately called the nearest Toyota Dealership to schedule an appointment, for them to take a look. The part to be replaced was on back order; therefore, I had to wait for a few months until it arrived.

Finally, I drove my car there. Once there, I was given a comfy seat and a cup of the Starbucks coffee. After waiting for about an hour and a half, one staff member called my name and handed to me a bill that noted $0, and pointed me to a shiny car, of which the service included a complimentary car wash. And I happily drove off, singing, grateful.

22

I am by no means calling “perseverance” my car coincidence fix, but I have learned that waiting patiently makes a difference. There was time that I considered getting it fixed, but I dreaded because honestly, I didn’t want to hear that it’d cost me thousands of dollars; so I dismissed the idea all together. That’s all I did really. There are so many things that I had been asking God and still do. I sometime want them in a certain way, certain circumstances or specific time, but it doesn’t necessarily happen in that order. Sometime I get answers sooner, sometime later, or different from what I had asked.

I really find it very hard to wait for certain things, especially when I cannot do anything to speed up the process. The bible gives us many examples of people who waited and those who rushed to resolve it in their own ways. But for the sake of “perseverance”, the stories attached here are for those who persisted: mothers whose dead children were brought back to life, diseases healed, the barren bore children: Luke 8:43-48 , 2 Kings 4: 18-37, 1 Samuel 1: 1-28 and many more.

As I pondered on what happens during the waiting period, I was intrigued by the story of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. One of the meanings of his name is: “be behind”, because he was a twin brother to Esau, and when they were born, he followed his older brother holding his heel. Jacob can also mean “a cheater”, because he lied to his brother by tricking him into giving up his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. Jacob also later lied to his father, Isaac, who mistook him with Esau because he exactly dressed up like him. Isaac, who was old and blind then, blessed Jacob, the youngest, when instead, the birthright blessings belonged to Esau.

When Esau found out, he vowed to kill his brother, who fled for his life. Fast forwarding to many years later, Jacob prepared to meet his brother that he has not seen for many years. Before he could get there though, he encountered something that would change his physical appearance, and his name of “a liar”, to receive a new name, that would carry on to many generations. He wrestled, physically, in preparation to find favor towards the brother he had wronged. Moreover, Jacob was put in a vulnerable position after his wrestling, which meant that he had to completely rely on God, in the presence of someone who had vowed to take his life.

“The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children,and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.” Genesis 32: 22-31 (ESV)

As Israel cowardly gathered his people and started bowing himself to the ground, Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.

Do you have something that God promised to you but it had taken many years to become true? Have you been praying but nothing seems to happen? You and I have good news: God does not change His mind: “I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.” Psalm 89:34-35. Go ahead and replace David by your own name in the above verse. Don’t take shortcuts! The bible says that those who put the Lord to remembrance shouldn’t take rest.

Keep praying and seeking the kingdom of heaven, everything else shall be added. Don’t stop fighting the good fight, keep the faith, keep running towards the finish line. Hold true to the good news you have attained. Don’t be silent, until God establishes and makes you a praise on earth, your righteousness goes forth as brightness, and your salvation as a burning torch. God is not deaf; His calendar is different from yours and mine, but His plans are to prosper us, not to harm us. The waiting time may be that God is still molding and toning your character to prepare your future.

Sometime God answers prayers by giving you what you would have asked, if you had known what He knows. ” DON’T GIVE UP, hang in there!

God is not “Fair”. He is JUST!

By definition, being fair means: “free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice. A fair decision; a fair judge; legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules.” When we get what we truly deserve, in a good way, it’s called fairness. The jurisdiction system should be fair.

On the other hand, God is not “fair“. This is simply a definition we give to “justice”, in our eyes, not God’s. A simple example is Psalm 103:10 (NKJV): “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” If you read the definition I shared above, this is not fairness at all. If you continue and read a few more verses up to 14, in lieu of fairness, we see mercy.

So, digging deep into the meaning, if God was fair, there shouldn’t be tragedies. Of course God does not cause them but He is mighty to stop them from happening, right? But we, as human beings, have ways of justifying what we “think” is right, or fair. But this does not necessarily mean that God sees it the same way, although we tend to believe so.

Let’s look at these few examples:

  • The city of Moore, Oklahoma pummeled by the tornado is beyond comprehension. Emotions of lucky parents reuniting with their survived children from the two elementary schools debris were simply contagious and very moving. The news of some other parents who waited on what may be their loved ones’ fate was simply heartbreaking.
  • Watching the news as the death toll climbed every minute, of people whose lives depended on the little money they made for hours in a country half way across the world, at a Bangladesh garment factory, didn’t make sense at all.
  • Words cannot depict the earthquake that reduced the Haitian capital city to rubble, where more than two hundred thousand people died in January 2010 and the country incurred heavy irreparable damages. My heart was overwhelmed with fear as I waited for the news of a good friend we met in grad school: Katarina, her husband and their baby boy, who was less than 6 months old at the time. By God’s grace, although they lost everything they owned in Port-au-Prince, they were safe and later returned to the United States. My friend’s survival story is unthinkable.
  • Last but certainly not least, the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda remains the worst atrocities of the 20th century; about a million Tutsi (and some Hutu who opposed the genocide) were killed in a period of 100 days. Roméo Dallaire, a Canadian UN Force Commander (UNAMIR 1993-1994), with an objective to assist the implementation of “Arusha Accords” between the Government of Rwanda and the opposition, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), wrote about his experience. I highly recommend his book: Shake Hands with the Devil.

Romeo Dallaire

You can add a lot more stories, and sadly more are happening as I type. Of course the cause of these tragedies always has little to do with people who encounter them. Also, the conclusion is not about who suffered the most or who deserves the most attention. I personally believe that it’s about what we learn from the experience and finding God’s Power & Plan amid the situation.

In my human mind, of course it’s not fair for children to die, or innocent people to suffer, or bad things to happen to good people. It is very hard to understand that some people may be in abundance while in some places others die from hunger. When all this happen, we start blaming God and wonder where He is as everything happens. Many expressions in Rwanda later quoted that the “God of Rwanda” was absent starting the evening of April 6, 1994.

In some scenarios, we even take it further, by suggesting the Mighty God what would have happened, had He been there! We’re not the only ones though. When Jesus arrived 3 days after his friend Lazarus died, his sister Martha started to blame him. She instructed Jesus that if he had been there sooner, that her brother wouldn’t have died (John 11:21). Of course Jesus was there to not only raise Lazarus from the dead, but to also glorify His Father’s Name. If Jesus healed him instead, I am pretty sure that the miracle may have not been as powerful to them as bringing him back to life.

The truth is, no matter how one may seem to have it all together, we each have struggles on our own levels. We face different challenges in life, but the good news is that God cannot give us more than we can handle. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it“. 1 Corinthians 10:13

To sum up everything, I know without doubt that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. It’s absolutely not because certain places or people are cursed that they should deserve what happens to them. “For God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust“.(Matt 5:45). God is Just, Almighty, a Healer, a Counselor, a Father to the Fatherless, filled with unwavering mercy and everlasting grace. Along with that, His calendar, schedule, curriculum, budget, judgement are NOT reasonable to our terms.

God does not cause earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, but He is right there when and as it happens. After all, we hear survivors’ amazing stories. After all, it’s not by their own power that those are spared. God is forever on the highest throne; His ways are not ours, nor His thoughts are like ours. You cannot advise Him nor question what He’s doing. He does according to His will on earth as it is in heaven. He rules the world with Truth, Grace and Justice. If you trust Him, when everything falls apart, you will be safe in His arms.

Weep with those who mourn and rejoice with those who celebrate. Treasure each day you have, tomorrow is not granted. Be eager to lend help, you never know when you may need it, too. Be considerate, mindful and sympathetic. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.

May God comfort those who mourn today and ease pain for those who are suffering, in the name of Jesus. May today all those who are in distress hear His soothing voice and may their hope be lifted high.

May His Holy Name be praised, now and always!