A bit of Levity…


A Night in the Life…
By
Tina Blackledge
Based on true events!
April 20, 2008

Beyond the normal hazards of delivering newspapers, I have a tale to tell that might shock, horrify, and intrigue you. A motor route had I (and that is scary enough with these gas prices) and I took my wares out every night slipping them quietly into the boxes of slumbering customers.

The night was dark as pitch, rain was falling in sheets, and a dense fog hovered just above the road’s surface to create a scene that would have made Stephen King shiver. Everything looks peculiar at night with twisted trees lurching out at you, silhouettes of giants lurking around every turn, and inebriated drivers testing your mettle. But nothing compared to what I found this night on Saylor School Road!

There I was driving with due caution because of the slippery roads and the darkness that greedily swallowed most of the illumination radiating from my headlights. The need for caution increased as the dense fog rolled over the road hiding the familiar curves and twists of the pavement. My eyes strained to see any unexpected hazards but my brain could not have imagined the scene my eyes focused upon as the fog cleared.

Hundreds of tiny white and green lumps covered the road like a carpet. My mind raced. Eureka, my mind locked on the answer, frogs hundreds of frogs dotted the road. It looked as if they were meditating with chests thrust outward and heads tilted up to soak in the falling rain. It appeared as if they were worshiping some ethereal goddess of the elements that is until they noticed that my car and I were bearing down on them.

Chaos hit and frogs went flying as my car made contact. It was only after I heard the sickening pop under my tires did the full realization of the carnage hit! Some frogs were so entranced by the falling rain that they never had a chance. Others ducked as my car sped over their lucky heads but their neighbors were not so lucky. All I could see were tiny little mouths agape as if in a silent scream, eyes bulging in horror. As one tried to jump out of the path of my vehicle it ended up on my windshield trapped by the swish of the wipers. Our eyes locked as if in some B-grade movie and I watched as his eyes bulged while his tongue caught under the blade dragging his poor little body back and forth without mercy. Thankfully, he lost his grip and went flying into the night. The dense patch of frogs was only about 100 feet long and then they cleared enough that I could swerve out of the way missing most of them.

It was only after I turned around at the dam and headed back down the road did the true realization of the slaughter sink in. Lets face it, when a Hyundai Accent filled with newspapers meets a few hundred soft-bodied frogs the battle is pretty much one-sided. I stopped before the field of death to discern the best path through the little broken bodies of frogs that were gathering. Some frogs were still meditating unaware of what had just occurred but others were all too aware. Some were so distraught at the loss of loved ones that they jumped into my headlights while others dragged useless back ends to the side of the road. Others were recognizable only as spots on the road.

This time I navigated the best path through the frogs to minimize further senseless slaughter. The rest of that night, I kept a watchful eye to the road dodging and weaving in hopes of missing the little amphibians. Alas, I pulled into my parking space at home but found it difficult to rid my mind of the pop, pop, pop that haunted my senses. Take heed for there is much more than deer, bear, and drunks that can cause you problems in the middle of the night. Oh yes, the frogs are watching and keeping tally of their popped brethren hoping they will not be next. So when you are driving down dark country roads keep a watchful eye to the road and beware the meditating throng of green frogs with white bellies!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008, 8:33:54 AM

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God’s Warriors and the Pit


God’s Warriors and the Pit
by
Tina Blackledge
3-14-2007

In my darkest times, my mind creates a picture of something akin to a deep coal mine but it is cylindrical with no horizontal pathways. It is far too dark to look up and I cannot bear to look down. The coal dust is causing my eyes, nose, and lungs to burn. My body rebels and I am overcome with tears while my lungs labor to draw in breath. My battered body trembles with the effort to continue fighting for life, any kind of life. My fingers are swollen, twisted, and throbbing with pain at the effort of trying to breach the blackness. I tell myself to be strong and keep hoping that there is meaning and purpose to all of this. I tell myself I am not the only one suffering but such thoughts are fleeting as the darkness permeates my being. Soon, my heartbeat becomes thunder in my ears drowning out all reason and hope. My heart and soul cry out in a desperate voice.

“Why…why has God laid such a heavy burden upon my being?”

My ears ache with the effort of listening for his voice but all I hear is the muffled chatter of people beyond the blackness. They are speaking of someone in harsh whispers but I avert my attention, for I cannot bear to hear their cruel, thoughtless comments. I have seen their sideways glances and up turned noses. The sound of their clicking tongues is like breaking glass upon a frozen lake. They see the facade I present readily accepting the self-assessment of, “fine”. They refuse to see the darkness and pain threatening to extinguish my light.

Soon, being around others is far too agonizing because I do not have the energy to make them feel better about my pain. I do not have the strength to hold back the tears so they run unabated down my weary face. Can no one see, can on one hear, and can no one feel my pain? Surely, someone, anyone, will see beyond the transparent illusion. Can no one see me…me, not the fake they are all so willing to embrace? My soul is dying but it makes no sound, surely, God hears the ravages of my spirit. If no one else has the strength to look into the pit, surely, God will reach down his hand and embrace my battered body, soul, and mind.
As time passes minutes become days and years become moments and begin to learn that those around me exist on another plane of understanding. Through my suffering, God has revealed to me a greater knowledge, understanding, and faith than my scorners could ever possess. I can see things so much more clearly, because I see them with my soul’s eyes. The price is great and not many will be strong enough to endure the cost.

I also learn that God never leaves me alone in that pit, he is there cradling me, murmuring words of comfort and reassurance while breathing strength into my broken spirit. He knows what he asks of me and I see in his tender gaze that it pains him to allow such sorrow and agony to continue to visit my person. I am his little girl and he loves me, he created every fiber of my being. His eyes well with tears as he thinks of all the wonderful things he has planned for me and my soul is filled with the knowledge that my Father feels my pain. He understands how cruelly the world has treated me. His loving countenance requests my patience, my understanding, and my love. I fear that I haven’t the strength to continue…and yet I draw in a clear, clean breath as his next request sends a shudder throughout my body.

He tells me he can remove me from the pain I am in, he can supply me with all the comforts this world can offer, and he can take away the darkness so that it will never visit me again. Now, my eyes spill over anew at the thought of getting out of the darkness forever.
But then I look upon his face once more and see a multitude of sorrows and I know the cost for my freedom will be dear. He waves his mighty hand over the dark expanse allowing me to see shadowy figures of hundreds upon hundreds of children, women, and men ambling, stumbling, lost in the darkness. Instantly, I understand, I must endure the darkness I am in, learn how to cope with it, draw upon God’s strength, and find a way out because if I do not then those countless faces will be lost forever.
I now realize that I have never been alone, even in my most hopeless moments. My father was there, is here, now. He is with me, he embraces me, he showers me with his love, and he promises me that he is sending me help. He never expected me to go through this alone, he has always been there even when I could not bear to look, even when my anger consumed me, and my strength failed me. He is there and he is sending help, everyday. Tomorrow, it may come in the form of a songbird’s morning praise or in the words of a close friend but now; I know.

Millions of pinhole size openings begin to appear within the black walls that threaten to crush me. The wall still encompasses me but it is weakening with my every success. Each tiny opening floods the pit with its light and gives me strength. The pain does not leave me, the darkness will be ever present, but there is light, there is hope, for God will not abandon me to the night. His plans for me are great and the wisdom he has imparted to me brings those shadowy figures into the light. I see them a full now and I understand why I had to endure what I have and why I must continue to persevere. God is not malice, God is not cruel, God is not unjust. He molds us into the person he needs us to be and that is a painful process. He allows bad things to happen to his earthly warriors because in them wisdom is found. He understands we will waiver, he understands we will feel like giving up, he understands our confusion and anger, but he will never give up on us, for he created us fiber by fiber for this hour, for this battle, for this purpose.

We are not alone in this battle, we have him, and we have one another. He brings people into our lives for a reason. Some people will, unknowingly or with full knowledge, thicken the dark wall that threatens to destroy us but others will punch more holes in the wall. Every action taken against or for us causes the wall to weaken, even the bad things because a wall cannot stand against the ebb and flow of life’s events. One day, we will be surrounded with nothing but light knowing the battle has finally been won but not just for us.
You see, while we struggled to free ourselves from that ebony pit others found the strength to find their way out of their own private or public hells. It was our strength and wisdom gleaned from our struggles, which has helped them find the pinpoints of light in their own darkness. A chain reaction was put into motion that freed God’s children from the pain and suffering they endured. Our lives are not finite; for we affect so many others and they, in turn, go on to affect even more.

There is reason behind the insanity of pain and suffering. There is meaning to our pain that goes far beyond this world. God sustains us while Satan tries everything he can to crush us under the weight of his tyranny. The path we walk is filled with obstacles and at times, it feels as if the cross we bear will destroy us. Remember, Jesus stumbled with his cross because the weight of it overtook him and God sent someone to take it up for him. You see, even Jesus who had all of creation at his command, was sent help from the father. God sends soulful people to his children to help carry their burdens when the crushing weight of the world becomes overwhelming.

Every step we take either brings us closer to him or drives us further away. Every tear we shed, God is there to wipe it away. Every dark obstacle we encounter, God is there to illuminate them all. People who suffer in this world are God’s warriors, if they choose to take up their cross and follow. We are meant for a higher purpose than the pain that threatens to consume our souls. We are God’s first defense here on Earth. There is a battle between good and evil going on, unseen to the human eye, but the effects of that battle are clearly evident all around us. We have been called into God’s service and it is not an easy road to travel but we must or else the darkness wins. If the darkness can destroy us then it will take all who we were supposed to lead out with us. It is an awesome responsibility and your pain may be too raw in this moment to understand or to even try to contemplate the greater meaning to your suffering. However, there is one thing you must know and take to heart through all of this, God loves you, God Loves YOU and his heart aches when you are hurting. He is there to hold you gently and wipe away your tears until the sobs subside and your body stops shaking. He is with you every moment of every hour and he will never abandon you. He has tasted the bitterness of your suffering and his wrath will be dealt upon those who have harmed or caused harm to come to you. You are his, you always were, and he will ferociously defend his child.

I know it is dark, I know you cannot see beyond the walls right now, I know it is hard to move, breath, or hope within the confines of the pit. Look around you until you see it, the tiny pinpoint of light. I know it is there because God has sent me into your life and I am digging furiously towards you. The light will flood the darkness like sunrise and you will see that hope exists. You will not be lost to the night, for God has given you to me and I will fight for you. God loves you and nothing can ever change that fact. You are his beautiful creation who he so painstakingly knitted together in your mother’s womb.

Hope is very evasive when we see no end in sight. It is in these dark hours it helps to know there is a friend firmly grasping your hand.

My hand is extended…grasp it!

On The Wings of Heaven


On the Wings of Heaven
by
Tina Blackledge
10-29-2006

In the dark beyond that of night,
A child looks towards Heaven’s light.

“God, will you hear me this night?”
a small voice whispers as soft
as an angel in flight.

The silence is deafening,
and the hope is dying.

“God, can you take me away?”
I don’t want to stay.”
“Please Lord, I can’t find my way”

The voice is older and
The heart is colder.

“Father, why?”
The battered heart cries.
“I am tired of all the lies.”

“Do you trust me?”
The Father softly replies.

“I am afraid, there has
been so much pain.”
“I want to trust, but it hurts
too much.”

“My child, I’ve had a plan for you
since the moment I made you.”

“Father, I have loved you. I have obeyed you.
. Yet I must ask,
Where were you when the Monsters came?”

“Dearest Daughter, I’ve always been with you. I was
there the night you could not walk, I held you tight when
you trembled and bled in the dark; I was there when you gave
up the fight and I stayed your hand that night.

“I know your heart’s desire but I need you to strike the fire”
Fight the fight and destroy the Monsters of the night.
I know the task is not easy but you do not fight alone,
for I have made an army of angels on earth to make the
Monsters atone.”

The Fragile Strength of Hope


       Looking forward in your life, making plans for the future, or working and sacrificing to realize a dream takes a great deal of

courage. Why, because one has to hope and that is a terribly fragile concept. Hope causes us to take a step into the unknown holding

tightly to the desire for a good outcome. We are willing to face whatever pain lies ahead as long as our hopes can be realized in the

future. This, hope, can have enduring longevity due to its stubborn trans-generational characteristic. Hope is said to keep the “idea”

alive. What that idea is matters little except to the person or persons possessing it or offering it as a “truth”. Some put their hope in

their own abilities, intelligence, or talents certain they can secure their future thru hard work and diligence. While many others put their

hopes in another human being, which is a very dangerous endeavor because there are no knights in shining armor waiting to rescue

you and you shouldn’t expect there to be. Humans are increasingly and perfectly fallible; therefore, to put one’s hope in a person is to

set oneself up for disappointment and pain. That does not negate the need to hope and pray the person can work with you to achieve

a common goal. Yet the key to success is your active and vigorous participation in finding or creating the solution to your problem.

         Hope is a word thrown around in casual conversation by people from all walks of life. It may be uttered by a person hoping to get

the new upgraded phone gadget or another wondering if they should dare hope that they can find food for their children today. The

devout of any religion put their hope in a higher being, God, which provides something they hunger for with profound desperation. We

must find purpose and meaning for our lives and for our role on Earth. The stockbroker hopes his or her market predictions will

become reality so they can evolve into an invaluable commodity to all who have money to dabble or invest heavily. Millions of teens

hope they will get to meet, date, or even marry the current pop idol of the decade while others hope they are making the right decision

to give their child up for adoption or abort him or her.

       I  dreamed of “making it”, using the world’s definition, one day hoping that my hard work and perseverance would bring my hopes

to fruition but I am almost back to where I started when it comes to my socioeconomic standing. Unfortunately, I have felt the

reverberation of too many doors being slammed in my face. In fact, every good thing I have ever attempted in my life has soured.

Leaving behind an acrid taste of failure coupled with an overwhelming degree of injustices. Life is difficult for everyone in many

different ways even if it appears otherwise. We all carry scars that we have accumulated along the way and the baggage we drag

around with us filters our view of life and our relationships with others. Some have an abundance of resources to ride over, plow

through, or avoid most obstacles in their path but they must all be traversed in some manner at one time or another. These folks with

worldly wealth and/or fame will feel profound emptiness at some point because material gain means very little when your soul is empty

and all you have become is a commodity.

      We have choices and the one that is by far the most difficult is the one requiring the traveler to continue to hope. Nothing less than

a Herculean effort is needed to get back up and try again after the hundredth, thousandth, or even the millionth time of being knocked

off the path by hardships, sickness, or heartaches. We have a choice to get up each time we land in a ditch or we can passively allow

their foot falls to crush us. Oh, I know how incredibly appealing it is to permit that to happen and be done with the pain but I guarantee

you that no one’s purpose is to be trod upon by another. Alternatively, we can claw our way back up and try navigating over the next

chasm or climb the next mountain. If we choose, we can sit upon the precipice of that chasm or at the base of that next mountain and

weep in despair. I’ve done both many times and I am certain I will do so again. There does exist a time to mourn, to suffer the loss of a

dream, a person, our health even and that is okay as long as we do not stay stuck there in that misery. I’ve even contemplated

throwing myself into the gaping chasm of despair allowing the pain and heartache to consume my being so as not to feel again.

      Pain is a certainty. Everyone will have it and whether it is emotional, spiritual, physical, or psychological holds no relevance

whatsoever. You see, the playing field is leveled when it comes to this factor because no one can escape it regardless of wealth of

spirit, character, or resources. Some of us choose to bury ourselves in whatever numbing agent we fancy while others make it their life

mission to make the world pay for their pain. The only decision that really matters during these moments in life is what you do with it

and how you allow it to shape you, your present and your future. It is so attractive to let your heart harden and begin blocking

everyone and everything out when you are enduring the pain. We either dash the fragile strands of hope unto the rocks or we nurture

it by refusing to let go of it. Hope can be terribly fragile and yet we set it up against impossible odds expecting it to withstand the

onslaught of mankind’s cruelty, disdain and apathy. The biggest mistake we make in those moments is to hope for a positive change

but then do little or nothing to help facilitate it. Hope is not a passive idea. Indeed, hope must be fed in order for it to grow strong and

infectious. In a creation that is full of imperfect people, including yours truly, it is guaranteed we are going to make little and big

mistakes causing ourselves and others to stumble and fall. Yes, hope is a fragile strength when we do not feed it but make that move,

take that step, reach out to help another up out of despair and you will be amazed at how quickly hope will become impenetrable. Hope

is not a concept meant for trivialities, no, hope is meant to become your armor against the onslaughts that will come. The moment you

stop accepting the world’s definition of success, is the beginning of your understanding of the hidden strength of hope. Although, my

life has not turned out how I hoped it would I am exactly where I am meant to be and my hope today is to make a difference in

someone’s life so they can make a positive difference in another’s life and so on. Hope may be fragile but it holds innate power waiting

for fertile ground. Examine your life then define your hopes and dreams making certain that they are inclusive of others because your

goal may not be the one you are meant to reach; instead, put your energies into reaching the one you were always meant to have.

You will likely be surprised by the goal you eventually reach because it will have morphed into something more than you could have

imagined. However, you must be malleable, you must be open, and you must have the strength to accept that you will be knocked off

your path, repeatedly, but you have the resolve to get up every time and find another way. Hope is always there even if you have only

slender threads of it holding you together. There have been times in which I have felt myself grasping in desperation to the frayed

edges of hope but I never let go even though every atom in my body and mind told me it was folly to hold unto it but I did and now it

and my faith has grown stronger and deeper. Each time you choose not to stay down your armor of hope gets stronger. Make the

choice; get up because your purpose here has not yet been fulfilled.

 

Tina Blackledge

“Everything will be okay…”


“Everything will be okay…”

 

                How many times have you heard this phrase uttered by someone who is trying to offer hope or support? Regardless of whether your pain emanates from a broken heart, mind, spirit, or body makes little difference. We tell others, “It is going to be okay. I know it is hard now but you are going to be okay.”  This may offer solace in the moment but the harm it can do when circumstances never become, “okay”, can be severe. Worse yet is when these misguided comforters bring God in to reinforce their statements. A person enduring severe suffering hasn’t the strength or the ability to see a distant light at the end of a proverbial tunnel; therefore, our words must be chosen with care. At times, silence is better than anything we can offer except a soft and strong shoulder to cry upon.  Words have immense power to create great good or great evil so we must be wise when we use them.

             This seemingly innocuous statement holds hidden harm because many situations in life can never be made, Okay. Things do not turn out alright every time and the good guy doesn’t always win. Sadly, when God is attached to the ‘Okay’ thinking it sends the message that God promises to make everything turn out positively, the way we want them to turn out. This false reality is one in which those who have enough faith are healed, the poor are blessed richly, and disease and pestilence are eradicated. As I have stated in previous posts, the strength of one’s faith does not equate to God giving us whatever we want. He is not a genie in a bottle and our faith should not depend upon whether or not we are happy in life.   Pain, of any kind, is a game changer and is the reason we question our faith.

              Acknowledging that God will heal His creation does not mean that every crisis in our lives will turn out ‘Okay‘. The truth is much more difficult to accept; therefore, believers alter it so that they can cope with pain and crisis compounding their own and other’s suffering. God promises us many things in scripture and some of those things are wonderful and easy to accept while others are not so easy. God tells us that if we follow Him then our lives will be difficult (Luke 21:17; Mt 24:9; Gal 3:4; Rom 8:18, etc.). He is not the cause of our suffering, for His perfect plan for our lives and creation is for our good, to build us up and not to tear us down (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants us to prosper but above all, He wants us to love one another as purely as He loves us.

             Just imagine what the world would be like if we would just try to treat others as if everyone we met mattered…because they do matter… an awful lot. We meet so many people while trying to live our lives and this has never been truer than in modernity. In this age, we have the possibility of interacting or affecting millions of people. Time and distance are no longer the barriers they once were. We have the power, through our choices, to impact the walk of another.

            The people we meet are as varied as the fish in the sea or the flowers in the field.  There are people who know pain and are either surviving it or have survived it. These are the folks who keep getting knocked off the path, by Satan, but choose to claw their way back up time and again. Then there are those who were on the path the Lord wanted them to be on but when they got knocked off they could not find the strength to climb back. Next are those who never got on the path because no one told them it was there and they ignored the evidence of God all around them. Finally, there will be those we meet that actively and viciously fight the truth and cling onto worldly things in order not to be swayed. These people know the path exists but make choices that actively take them further and further away from it. They are concerned about their own pleasure and prosperity.

            Each and every person we come into contact with will impact us and we them. Regardless of the degree of impact, we need to remember that what we do, say, read, write, or create has an outcome, good or bad.  No matter how infinitesimal you believe it to be, your choices have a ripple effect throughout all of creation.  God uses everything that He has created, including you, to bring about the fulfillment of His plans. You needn’t acknowledge Him or cooperate with Him but he will use your choices to bring about the good of all of creation. That does not mean that He approves of the choices that his children make. It only means that He will use anything and everything to bring about his plan to destroy all pain and suffering (2 Thess. 1:5).

            If God is all powerful and all knowing then why is there so much suffering and heartache? Indeed, He has the power to stop your suffering and bring justice to those who caused it whether it is another human or the result of a broken creation. Why then doesn’t he just stop it all right now? Why doesn’t He make things ‘okay’ for His hurting children? Is He deaf to our pain? Of course not, He hears us and feels our struggle as His own, His heart aches for his children, all of his children. None of us were ever meant to suffer. This was never part of His plan but we were given choice and that changed everything. We may not like or accept the answers we seek because they may be difficult for us to hear; however, if you want to get beyond the pre-packaged one-liners then you must investigate and delve deeper. In doing so, you will likely find more questions than answers because our finite minds and limited perspective can only take us so far into understanding.  

            The reason He does not stop the pain and suffering this instant is because He is merciful and patient. You may feel this to be a ludicrous statement but He tells generation after generation who have been persecuted and had injustices thrust upon them that He not only hears our suffering but he mourns for it too.  Yes, He could come back while you sit here reading this post, eradicating all evil and pain from the lives of all his children. He does promise that He will destroy all evil in His creation, He will rescue the children that have chosen Him but it will be in His time.  He will create a new heaven and a new earth and all who have chosen him will live in a world so pure that our minds cannot fathom it. No pain, of any kind ever again! He will reward his faithful children by living among them and eliminating all brokenness. This is not only a promise made to us but it is a warning to all who have rejected Him. There will come a day when His patience and mercy will end and He will judge all. It will be a fierce day of many losses and God’s anger against those who have rejected him and persecuted all of us who have held unto him will be unmatched in all of human history. No one knows when this day will come but it will be a day when God says, enough. The cost to all those who do not know him or actively oppose him will be so great that it will be incomprehensible. If he would act now many of his children would be lost for all eternity. He holds back his hand of judgment in order to allow non-believers, his lost children, every opportunity to come home before they are weeded out (Mt 3:12 NLT).  

            Knowing this, we must be patient as well and I am saying this from a position of chronic pain and disability; therefore, my words are not uttered lightly. We are not the first to suffer greatly throughout our lives, although it may feel like it at times. We are not the first to feel heartache so deep that it threatens to cease our breath altogether.

             When you become a flickering light within the vast empty darkness, Satan will do whatever it takes to snuff you out. This does not mean that he will kill you. Nope, all he has to do is kill your faith. You get to keep suffering and he has stopped you from reaching out to the creator for help. He wins this battle then will move onto the next person.  He actively attempts to destroy God’s followers every moment of every day regardless of how you pray or the strength of your faith. In fact, if you have strong faith then Satan will try that much harder to destroy you because he knows if he is able to make you to give up then he has won a victory over his creator. Imagine the ripple effect it would have upon all humans if a person, who has been a champion for Christ, begins to succumb to Satan’s tricks. Of course, you do not have to use too much of your imagination because one viewing of the nightly news will provide several examples of “godly” people who have committed horrible atrocities and in doing so soiled the name of God.

              As illustration, if your pastor/priest were suddenly accused of adultery, molestation, murder, or some other crime/sin, how would you react? How many would fall with him or her? How many unbelievers would use the failures of these “pillars of the community” as reason to flee Christ or blame God for their troubles? When things do not turn out ‘okay‘ then both the misguided comforter and the person in crisis will have their faith shook to its core. Their pain may turn to poison and serve to kindle anger against God and everyone else. In our limited understanding, we believe what others have told us (instead of investigating it ourselves) and then blame God for our disease, heartache, poverty, persecution, etcetera but all of these things are a direct result of evil’s reign upon the Earth. Collectively, human sins have not only opened the door wide to evil but we have taken the door off its hinges allowing an acrid sea of evil to invade our lives. Nothing has been untouched, nothing.  No, I am not saying that we cause our own suffering, although that is true in specific incidences. No, the problem runs much deeper than the suffering specific to our life at this moment in time.

            Suffering is caused by a shockwave from each sin committed by every human being that has ever breathed life on this planet. This wave of evil permeates every molecule in creation; therefore, all of creation is broken. We are living within the shockwave of sin the generations that came before committed. Plus, the sins we commit ourselves will strengthen that shockwave laying waste to future generations. None of us are sinless; therefore, none of us are blameless. We invite evil into our world and its only purpose is to destroy us and all we love for only through our pain can it thrive. Obviously, you have the choice to dismiss all of this as spiritual mumbo jumbo and that is your God-given right but its truth is not dependent upon your belief.

             Here are some examples that illustrate the ripple effect of sin throughout creation.  If a land developer decides to decimate thousands of acres of untouched land for the purpose of building a shopping mall and in doing so inadvertently destroys an insect or plant that held the cure to cancer? Has not his sin of greed affected us all? If one child takes the life of another because he/she wanted something the other had, are we not all the cause and the victims of this deadly transaction?  “I do not want my kids to grow up the way I did so….I will give him or her everything I never had.”  Advertisers use psychologists to feed the idea that to be a good parent is to give everything to your children. They deliberately try to make us think we need what they are selling! Our entire “free-market” society is based on the premise of greed and over consumption.  Hence, should we not hold ourselves, as part of the human race, culpable?

            A few more examples: You are the best friend of a woman who has just found out that her husband has been sexually abusing her daughter and son who are now 8 and 4 respectively. Her husband purports to be a Christian and has twisted God’s truths to reconcile hurting his children, his wife, his community, his church, and all Christians everywhere. What do you say to your friend, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be alright…”? This is never going to be okay, this has caused a wound in creation that will swallow both the faithful and faithless alike because it is evil. No matter how much time passes, this will never be okay for any of them. Will God make good from the evil that was clearly intended and perpetrated by Satan? Absolutely He will! However, there is a catch of sorts. God gave each of us free will or choice because he loved us. It is the choices made by the abusive father that brought another wound upon God’s creation. It will be the choices of the mother and other relatives that will affect how the children heal. And it is the choices of the children themselves that have the potential to bring about God’s will or to perpetrate further evil. God allows us to choose to follow Him and do good to bring His plan to fruition or to become embittered and then toxic to others. Will God’s plan come to fruition if you choose not to follow Him? Yes, He will work through another, who has chosen to work through the pain that is certain, to bring about healing in His Creation.

             Consider this one; you are sitting with a husband and wife who have just been told by the doctors that their child can look forward to a life filled with unimaginable pain and mobility problems. There is no cure but there are medications that can be taken to manage the disease but they will cause all sorts of nasty secondary health issues the longer the child takes them. What do you say to them? Their hopes and dreams for their child have just shattered into a million pieces. However, God will use this child to fulfill His will for good if the child chooses to follow Him. Regardless of whether you were born with a debilitating disease or have one diagnosed later in life, it will never be okay. Yet, good can come from it.

             The disease itself will bring no good to anyone BUT our reactions to knowing someone who has chronic sickness or our reactions while enduring it ourselves has the greatest potential for good or evil. Does that mean we are supposed to be smiling all the time and be a joyful sufferer?  No. That is not humanly possible and anyone who appears to be “joyful” in their suffering is faking it, which will later lead to resentment and anger toward God and others. However, chronic suffering does not give you license to be angry and bitter toward everyone. You can be joy-filled because joy comes from God but no one can sustain happiness all the time. If you truly want to see someone’s character or whether they live what they believe, watch them during times of suffering because anyone can be a good Christian or just a good person, in general, in times that are happy. Remember, only under great pressure can a lump of coal shine like a diamond; therefore, your thoughts and words will shine brightly when they are born in hardship if tempered with love and faith.

            As you read this post you have probably thought of at least ten sins/crimes committed by those you know or know of  and can see how much damage their sin has done, but have you dared look inward and identify the sins you have perpetrated? Evil is very real and our sin allows it to corrode us from the inside out.  So much harm is caused in our world by those who ardently call and fight for justice but refuse to stop and look at what they, themselves are doing to perpetuate the crime, violence, and brokenness of this world. None of us are innocent. Our ideas and words have power regardless of whether we think anyone is listening. The ideas we purport to the next generation either deepen or help heal the brokenness.           

             The idea that “everything will be okay, if you just hold onto your faith”, is a lie and telling it to someone who is suffering may set them on the road to faithlessness or self-destruction. In the end of time, yes, God promises to eradicate evil but many lifetimes have come and gone in which people wasted their entire lives waiting for God to reward their faith by taking whatever hardship they were enduring and making it, Okay. Some things can NEVER be made okay and instead of accepting that and working hard to make our little corner of creation better; some of us fall into angry, destructive bitterness. If we provide false hope to a suffering person/family it would be as if we added gasoline to a smoldering fire.

            Understand this, Satan’s days are numbered and he knows it! His reign over the earth is coming to an end and he wants to cause as much pain to God as possible in the time he has left.  How then can a parent’s heart be shattered? Yes, by attacking his children (John 10:10).  How does this equate in real life? Pain, lots and lots of pain for all humankind but those who have Christ in their hearts will have hope; whereas, unbelievers face the same evils devoid of all hope. (Luke 21:17; Mt 24:9). God promises to give us strength through His grace to survive these attacks. He will use our weaknesses because in them there is strength (2 cor.12:7-10). It will not be easy but with God all things are possible, if your will and God’s will are aligned (Philippians 4:13). Yet, you must be careful in how you interpret this statement as well. Just because we have this “great idea or notion” does not mean that God promises that it will be fulfilled. It may be a fantastic idea and glorifying to God but you may not be the one he needs to do it or it may not be the right timing. Recall the story of David, Solomon and the building of the Lord’s temple as an Old Testament example. Our thinking is finite, constricted to the problems we see or experience in the now but we need to widen our scope if we hope to understand what God wants of us and how our particular suffering plays into His plan. No, he hasn’t caused our suffering but it is through the most broken that he brings healing to his creation. If we choose to follow him then our suffering will have purpose and positive things can be born of it instead of it leading to destruction.

            I know that I am headed for excruciating levels of pain that no medication will touch along with being bed-ridden some day but knowing the end does not exclude or excuse me from the good I can and will do. There is purpose in my suffering but it will be the choices I make that determine whether that purpose is going to heal creation or tear it further apart. Do I give in to my desire for self-pity and woefulness? Yep, I have been known to throw week-long pity-parties but then I get back up and step back on the path and keep climbing.           

            What should we do to offer help and hope to others? Should we even try to offer hope to someone suffering? Absolutely, just remember that God never created us to suffer. That was not in the original plans; therefore, any suffering we or others undergo is from Satan not God.  We must offer hope but do not make it false hope because that is a faith-killer. In an attempt to soothe the wounds of another, you may drive them away from God all together by misinterpreting scriptures or simply delivering trite statements to those in pain. Scripture must be felt within one’s soul in order to be useful; otherwise, they are only empty words. Scriptures like, “What Satan meant for Evil will be used by God, for Good (2 Thessalonians 1:5),”  “All things are used for the Glory of God so that his will may be served”. These phrases are rarely understood in full by the user but are commonly offered for counsel or support during a crisis.            Understand, both of these statements are true; however, when and how they are used is crucial. The bearer of the pain hears, “God wants me to suffer this horrible _________ to give Himself glory”!? “I have lost my child because it was God’s will?!” or “God gave me this debilitating disease in order to glorify himself? Why does my suffering bring him pleasure?” These thoughts are knee-jerk reactions to the pain and our minds need to hold someone accountable for our suffering. When no human can be blamed or justice is denied then we blame God for the agony that threatens to swallow us. When consumed by the apex of pain, nothing else can be seen or heard. You are raw and every fiber of your being throbs with an inhumane intensity regardless of the type of pain (Physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional, etc.).  It is better to say, “God will provide you the strength to bear this and he weeps with you as you mourn.”, rather than ‘everything will be okay’. This is a true statement that can offer hope after the person/people have come down from the crisis period. Your words must have fertile soil to grow and nothing will get past the intense pain of the apex. 

            We live within the New Testament era where Christ has paid for all of our sins; therefore, the pain we live in now is a direct result of the sins committed before us, the sins committed now, and our own life mistakes. Again, here is another chance to misunderstand what is being stated here. I do not mean that the sins you committed this day have caused your direct suffering; although, that can and does happen frequently. Sometimes A + B = C, meaning if we choose to rob a bank, are caught, tried, convicted, and then we experience abuse in prison making our existence a living hell, who is to blame? Is God to blame for this consequence or are we ourselves responsible for that suffering? If you abuse alcohol and are later diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver who then holds the blame? If you smoke like a chimney and are diagnosed with lung cancer, again, who is to blame? I understand all of these examples have exceptions and there exist many details that make each one unique, which is why I stated that Sometimes A +B=C.

            However, suffering does not only hit those who have made poor life choices. This is where it gets sticky.  If we concentrate on the immediate ramifications then we will miss the big picture. The first sin committed started a ripple effect throughout every molecule of all of creation. In the instant evil entered creation, everything changed. Nothing was untouched, nothing. The brokenness spread like a voracious poison. Pain, shame, anger, envy, jealousy, and bitterness made their entry into creation. God never intended for any of us to suffer. He never wanted us to suffer sickness, bitterness, depression, desperation, hopelessness, or fear but these are natural consequences of human choice. We were given choice and we blew it and we keep blowing it making that ripple effect of pain spread throughout all the future generations.

            I struggled a long time with the scripture stating, ‘children will suffer due to the sins of their fathers’ because I thought it was saying that God would punish and afflict the children of a sinful parent but I have come to understand that this is not the meaning at all. I believe this is what it is really saying; if the father/mother commits sins then the consequences will be felt by the successive generations not as a punishment from God but as a natural consequence of sin. Again, the ripple effect of sin is fearfully awesome in its devastation. Consequently, sin has both immediate and long-term negative ramifications. And lest we become self-righteous and blame those who came before we must stop and think of how many sins we have committed this single day. All sin allows evil into the creation bringing with it pain and suffering; therefore, we must guard against it so that we are not inadvertently hurting our loved ones or those who must bear the weight of our sin in generations to come.  Things may never be okay but you will be given the strength and endurance to create something good from the ashes of suffering, IF you choose that path. 

2 Cor.12:7-10: 7.though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  10. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NLT)