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Longing for God When Times are Tough

Frank Hasel
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In this seminar, I will share my own experience of significant loss. Experiencing pain and suffering is one of the most acute temptations of faith and raises tough questions about God. It even has the potential to destroy our faith. How can we trust God when our prayers are not answered? How can we learn to develop an attitude of gratitude? 

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Frank Hasel

Associate Director of the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) at the General Conference

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Recorded

  • August 3, 2018
    10:45 AM
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Oh gracious God and patient Father in heaven thank you so much for for your grace for your mercy you've been a God and you are a God who has experienced loss and pain and suffering so you know how we feel you understand us and I ask that you will be with us this morning in a special way I I need your help please. Give me give me the right words. Give me the right thoughts that what I will say there are so many things that could be said that the things I will touch upon that they will be a blessing and a new courage meant to those who are here in this room and May the words of the psalmist and Psalm 115 words 1 become reality this morning where he says not to us Lord not to us but to your name give glory because of your loving kindness because of your truth this is my wish and my prayer asked in Jesus name. So if you have come here and expect a seminar where I will give you 1234510 good reasons how to deal with difficulties and challenging situations this is the wrong place all right and there is room for you to leave immediately if that is your expectations I'm not going to tell you that what I have in mind is that I will share a little bit from my own experience my own life experience and what has helped me to cope with some things that were not so easy and challenging and hopefully share a few things that have been helpful for me to maintain. My spiritual says to remain spiritually sane and even joyful despite some challenging things that can happen in life so how shall I write how how shall I start what words. Can describe what cannot be explained so how would you explain. To a person who has never ever fallen in love how it feels to deeply deeply love another person how do you explain it now if if you were to ask me. How is it to to lose your mother I could tell you that I saw my grandmother die but not my mother and that is not quite the same so every experience of loss every unique experience all the most beautiful things and the most painful things in life a things where we have to fit cultists to even find the appropriate words to describe what is going on and what is happening. So every suffering and every significant loss in life is unique and when I talk about loss in life significant loss I'm not just talking about death to make things very clear. And it's not just for old people you know if you experience. Severe sickness if you experience a loss of mobility if you experience a loss of a limb your arm your leg your hand maybe even 1 finger and your arm was station. And you're used to play the piano and all of a sudden 1 or 2 fingers are missing that is significant loss if you lose your job if your marriage breaks if that is significant loss in life and I think we all experience at 1 point or another some type of loss someone once said every person you meet loves something is afraid of something and the 3rd thing I forgot but every person has lost something yes love something is afraid of something and has lost something if if if you want to start a meaningful conversation with anybody you start asking those questions and some people are not willing to talk about the real tough questions they might be willing to talk about the things they love and you will learn something important about the person they might be willing to share a little bit about the things they might be afraid of and perhaps they are willing even to share the things that they have lost. And you will find that if you talk to other people on that level it connects and you really get to know the other person on 11 that you will never ever just in small talk conversations so every person experiences Sloss of some sort in his or her life and every experience of loss is different and I cannot provide an answer to all the difficult questions that come along with with those experiences. But what I will do this morning is I will share a little bit from my own experience from my own life story hoping that it might be an encouragement to some of you and that it will help you to contradict your own challenges in your own life and find your own personal way and how to deal with them and with the experience of suffering and pain and loss and even death so here's part of my story I've been born and raised in Germany I told you and I've been blessed by a very very happy childhood I have very happy childhood memories and my mother used to say let children be children as long as possible they have old get grown up quickly enough and she was right and if you have very positive childhood memories they will last all of. The whole life so I grew up in a in a Christian home in a 7th Day Adventist home my parents 7th Day Adventists Christians and they ever committed 7th Day Adventists and they grew up I grew up in the faith so to speak and I believed in God I practiced the Adventist faith I got baptized still every person at 1 point earlier or later has to face some tough questions and as a teenager I I went to an Adventist school and I had some Adventists teachers and some of these teachers were good teachers and some of the teachers they raised questions in my mind and they didn't provide the answers to those questions and those kind of questions kind of threw me off and I even started questioning the reality of God and and some other things. You know hardly anybody would have noticed except perhaps for some very very good friends who knew me very closely but these questions where very challenging for me and. And there. These are kind of questions that defy easy answers but still for many many years I was never ever confronted with severe suffering or death even in my own life. And it is interesting perhaps we end up Western countries in like in Europe North America Australia we are so and lightened and so progressive in our thinking in our education in the 21st century that we think we have advanced so much in the sciences and in medicine. That we kind of kind of push away the reality that there is suffering and pain and even death and that we cannot cannot really control life that life is beyond our control and. That there is sickness and that life is fragile so how do you deal with that unpopular reality in life if it confronts you you know I am I'm reminded of a passage in the New Testament in the book of Romans by the way this is my powerpoint Power Book. So I don't have a Power Point presentation I have your full attention right in Romans chapter 8 there's an interesting passage that comes to my mind when we talk about the subject in verse 1617 and 18 the Apostle Paul makes a statement and some other places you find a similar idea but let's just focus on that passage and he says the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God So far so good and if children he continues 1st say 17 heirs all it's all fine we have no problem with that heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ but now comes a passage where we don't like if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him so we like the glorifying part but we don't like the part that talks about suffering and suffering is part of our human reality is part of our Christian reality and I think we have to learn as Christians and I believe as 7th Day Adventist Christians to bear adversity and difficulties and challenges of life in such a way that the way we deal with it will be an inspiration to others will instill hope rather than desperation and that we have to learn even to die in such a way that people will see that is different from what I see with other people who don't have that hope. So that is something we don't often talk about but I think it's part of our human existence and reality so in my own life I was confronted with significant loss in the year 2009 By the way I will share some personal things things that were close to my heart and if you will realize that I'm even touched today when I talk about this so this is not just easy talk for me but I will do it to the glory of God So I see I experienced significant loss in life in the year 2009 when my wife was. Unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer she had breast cancer and it was cancer of the most aggressive form and my wife's all Rika she was only 43 years old when that breast cancer was diagnosed with her and. I can tell you she didn't choose to have cancer neither did we as a family chose that she should become sick it's something that happened and. She was still young I think with 43 she had a future ahead of for she was still needed we had 3 children 3 sons at that time the youngest just 11 years old the oldest 19 and we felt this is not really what we have and vision for our lives this is not what we have planned this is not something that we desired and. After several years fulfilling years as a mother and. And. Housewife my wife had just started and become to teach in her profession again she was an elementary teacher she loved to teach and she was appreciated by the children and by the parents and her peers and she had just started to teach part time by the way of just a little footnote we don't we don't often hear about this this morning we heard a little bit in the planetary presentation about this but I think we too rarely too rarely appreciate the great contribution that women make when they decide to stay at home and be available for the children and the family my children would not be what they are today if my wife had not made a conscientious decision to stay at home and see that asked her priority in life she left to teach and when the children were older enough she started to teach part time because she still felt home is 1st priority end and children were more independent with with age and that gave her a little a little bit more freedom I think if this is a word from a man to the male audience here you man I think we don't appreciate enough and we don't express our appreciation to the women who make that contribution to the home to the church to society at large and often you don't know what intense work is involved at home just I mean I've learned it the hard way. Just to cook. And do all the rest stuff thing is quiet a logistical challenge you know anyhow so I think we need to appreciate that more and to express the value and the great contribution that is often missing in society at large for that type of work it's really it's work it's hard work anyhow so she had just started to work part time again when she found out that she had cancer and if you would have known my wife you would have known her and remembered her as a person who was. She she she had the most healthy lifestyle you could imagine I mean she never smoked she never drank alcohol of course she exercised she was happy she had a friendly disposition to see. See she was cooking healthy vegetarian meals and she still got sick. And didn't take even 1 year after she found out that she had cancer that she died that's a short time and. We tried everything and you know how it goes you know the moment people find out that they are someone sick and cancer you are swarmed with recommendations and. And people know all kinds of special treatments that almost. Working Iraq chillis Lee and you have the most powerful effects and we tried everything we tried everything and my my wife was consistent in her lifestyle she was positive Sievers she was a spiritual person we even have talked in medley. In our house we talked with him we consulted with the best of the best with the people who had the latest research in medicine and science and much of that what we heard helped us in dealing with that and yet it didn't get better it got worse and it got worse we prayed about it he prayed about it often in fact my wife from requested special annoyed that 1 on 1 for the sick she requested it twice at the beginning of her sickness and towards the end of her ordeal I'm a pastor I have worked as a pastor I have I have I've been called to have annoyance for the sick in the church and I have seen miracles I have seen people with cancer and the cancer was God so I know God can do it I firmly believe it to the stay but he didn't do it with her now how do you explain that if you can't see there are some things and live where we do not have an answer for and we do not have an easy explanation and. It is interesting. If those who knew my wife would certainly testify I believe that. She was an amazing amazing example of faithfulness consistency she had unveiled bring trust in God and when she died she was at peace with herself she was at peace with her family she was at peace with God She died. And for her death was a relief from the pain and the suffering. For us it was a harsh loss to see somebody has said. One's own death everybody just dies for himself but the death of others you have to learn to live and that is the challenge for all of those who survive the death of a person who is Love You have to learn to live with the absence of someone you love you have to learn to live with something missing in your life you have to learn to live with death and the consequences of death and I think that is the challenge for every 1 of us and death this. Is very painful it's not a happy experience and if. Every person experiences death differently every single child of us has has dealt differently with the loss of his mother and no experience is just the same and. Yet even though it was a relief for her for us. Her death is acutely felt the absence of her is is still painful so. Why is it painful it's painful because. Because she is missing her good counsel is missing we can't talk to her anymore we can't listen to her insights we can't benefit from the human or she has from our smile from her laughs. We can. Consult with her we can receive her input we can't feel her touch. We can't feel the closeness and that pain is acutely felt and. Her death really has dropped us off in number of. Experiences they are. That she will never be able to see and participate my wife will never be able to to know the feeling how it felt that my oldest son our oldest son Jonathan got married over a year ago she will never ever have to joy of perhaps holding her own grandchild in her arms if there will be grandchildren later on she has seen her youngest son when he was 11 now he's 20 he looks different his change over time and that is the challenge that goes along with losing a person that you love that sometimes people try to. To say things I think they mean it well they they they want to comfort you they want to say something that instills hope but not everything that other people say even though they mean it well is that helpful at least not in my experience so sometimes people would say well. They wouldn't say it that drastically but the essence is well it's you don't have to be sad you know you will see her again right we have this hope don't we yes we do do I believe that I will see her again sure I firmly believe that but it was no consolation for me it wasn't all no comfort for me because. I was missing here I'm missing her in the now. Not in the future and her presence is is dearly missed by many now and in the here and now rather than in the future life so not everything that we believe is true is that comforting in the moment you experience a significant loss in life and. It is it is interesting that if you experience something like that I think. It is so. Traumatic. That you need to have a network of support that will carry you through when you go through the valley of shadows you know it's if you experience that you're not quite clear in your thinking I mean you just you just function. And you need help in the most basic things let me let me illustrate that a little bit to be more specific and to give you an idea of what has been helpful in my own personal life and experience. I'm a pastor I work for the church and when you work as a pastor in leadership positions you get to know sometimes you get to know things in the church that are not so nice right you get to know details and you have informations about things that are not so enjoyable. But I have to say that in that experience I'm really truly grateful for the experience of having a church I have seen other people who have had cancer with my wife who didn't belong to a church who didn't have that community of faith who didn't have that support system. And they truly felt lonely they didn't have anybody to care for for them they didn't have anybody who would who would support them and in those in those situations I think what is most crucial and most helpful is that you know that you are sensitive to little gestures of friendliness I call them to little gestures of helpfulness that brighten your day. That can be very small things almost insignificantly small things but that can make a big huge difference. Sometimes people. They would talk to you and they would say. Ah yeah and listen. If you should ever need any help just give me a ring and let me know I've had plenty of people talk to me like that and they mean it they really mean it but I never called them because you know it it's an effort to go to the telephone to the cell phone and dial the number and then start talking if you don't feel like talking if you don't know what the other person will say and how the the person will react and so forth so if you really want to do a person who has suffered significant loss and live a favor be creative do some thinking might be hard work but there is there is no replacement for hard thinking it and put yourself into the shoes of that person and think what what would be a help in that situation and then just do it and you know. Surprise them with a meal. So that they don't have to cook. I like flowers. Send them some flowers to brighten the day and to get some sunshine. In the room you know. Just a smile just a smile of encouragement just a little message of hope you know you can text message on your cell phone that's nice but there is something that is unsurpassed and that is to write a little post card the old fashioned way you know with pencil and in handwriting and just a word of encouragement just a word of a positive thing sent something that makes the person smile and think about something else. Here's something that was most helpful for me I've learned that I had read this some someplace that. If you have children and 1 of the spouse of 1 of the parents dies 1 of the most difficult things for children especially when they are smaller is that in the situation like that they are often put to many different people who take care of them again my hear grandpa their other Grant My here uncle here and their good friend there and for them this means stress it means who is responsible for me. How is my daily routine guaranteed I don't know where I will be tomorrow I don't know who will take care of me tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and so forth so for small children the most important thing in a situation like that is to have a consistency to have the daily routine the basic things go on undisturbed as undisturbed as possible so for me that was something that that that I thought that will help us as a family me as a single parent with my children too to continue that daily routine is to have common meals. Breakfast in the morning lunch and then in the evening now. I'm not a good cook I have to confess you know I do cook I've never burned water you know I like to eat well you know and good things but I'm not I'm not particularly good at cooking I lived at a campus at boken hall for and they invited me to to join them in the cafeteria I could have done that but I knew full well that if I were to go there there were other students and faculty and people who saw me and wanted to talk to me and I would not have that close personal interaction with my children and usually you know children if you ask them how was school How's life took they don't tell you right away it takes time and it's usually over a meal that things start opening up and the real issues come to the surface so I thought you know I'd like to maintain that routine my wife she was a wonderful cook and she cooked and she provided that stability so I wanted to continue that. Now to cook is a challenge I mean you have to learn that you have to learn how to prepare the things that they are ready at the same time so that 1 thing is not getting cold where the other is not ready yet you know and you have to put it in the table and you have to you have to work full time and then you have to cook and you have to prepare and they have to do the dishes and everything it's stress. You know daily struggles that they manage and do and we don't appreciate as men do it for a couple days and you appreciate the work of your wife and your spouse as much more. So here's what really helped me in the church there was a lady a good friend of mine. The wife of 1 of the best friend of mine and she said Is there anything that that we can do for you as said yes I would like to continue that daily routine she says I have an idea you don't have to think about anything here's what I will do I will set up a plan in the church I will call the people. What are you most busy days in the week when you have to teach in the morning in the afternoon when you don't have any time I said I have 3 days that are the most busy days in the week she says No problem I will take care of that I will find people who will provide a meal a hot meal for you and the children for 3 days in the week you don't have to call anybody you don't have to do anything they will bring the food to you able place the food in front of your door you don't even have to open the door you don't even have to talk to them you know sometimes people they come to you and they they do something well you know when you open the door and you just don't feel to see as if you want to see anybody you just wanted to be for yourself you know. And they are nice you know and they ass they start asking questions and it's tough and it's difficult so she said that they will place the food in front of your door they will leave you eat you enjoy you do the dishes you place the food in front of your door the next day they pick it out you don't even have to drive to their home now that was a real help and they continued to do that for 3 month can you believe it 3 meals a week for 3 months the 1st 3 month the most difficult 3 Month you find that only in the church and all of her said you appreciate that there is something like community and fellowship and that there are people who really think what could be a blessing to you in a situation like that. I had 1 family and they continue to do that for 1 meal a week at my most busiest day for 1 and a half years. Just for free just out of courtesy Now that is real help you know there is help and then there is real help there is help and then there is helpful help and it's not to say him and so think about things that would be helpful help for a person in that situation someone said you know if you have to clean the house you have to back you know you have to iron you have to clean the bathroom I have somebody she will come once a week and she will do all that for you she paid for that person and they came and it was a real help because in the 1st couple weeks and month you don't even have. You know you're you don't even think about all these things and then the home looks like a mess and everything so people really took down and thought about things that would be a real helpful help things like that so if you find that. Do that and and and people will appreciate that. There are so many other things and facets that that I could talk about let me just mention. To 2 other things that that come to my. To my mind. You know sometimes if you. If you lose your partner. You find yourself alone and sometimes it's just a blessing if you have another good trend another person where it is appropriate and that person gives you a little hug a little bit head on the shoulder a little hand shake a little physical contact the Last night I was on the platform for a short short presentation for the 2nd presentation and I came back and I didn't know anybody in the audience so I said in the role alone all of a sudden another person came and sat right next to me was so nice I didn't sit alone. Because why is that important see. When you when you are widower or widow when you lost your partner or something changes something changes even in your social status in society so if you are single a young person not married and you have somebody. That you marry your status your social status in society changes all of sudden you change from being single to being category married and now you belong to those people who are married you're in a different category social category and everybody who is married knows there is something to that you have still the same friends but it's still not quite as if you were unmarried before you know your people recognize you're in a different social category and if you lose a partner all of a sudden you switch the categories again and you are no longer category married you no longer belong to that group you're all over certain category with. With your and it's this different social category and people treat you differently unwittingly and you're alone rather than belonging to a group and to to realize that can help to relate to other people of that experience and so sit with them in church invite them home to your home you know they wouldn't feel free to come to your home as they are used to because they're all couples and all over certainly you know they're the couples and they are alone you know they they don't fit into that setting anymore and so it takes a deliberate in the Taishan that the liberal effort to say come on we want to have you along you're part of that. And that is helpful here's another thing that I realized that was most helpful for me to cope with the reality of loss sometimes people they don't know. They don't know what to say in a situation like that and they. In order to avoid that. To see something wrong they'd rather say nothing and sometimes they especially in religious circles they what they would say things you know all we have to solve and there will be a resurrection and you'll see her again and and so forth. But that was not comforting to me what was most comforting to me was when people actually took the time and sat down and thought about an incident. And encounter something that they experienced with my wife something that they appreciated with her something where they remembered her in a certain situation and they describe that situation and they describe that kindness or that courtesy or that incidents that that made a lasting positive impression on their mind and they share that with me for me this was playing balm this was healing to the wounds it was not painful it was a blessing it helped me to to deal with the reality of loss and in a much different way than just saying my condolences and will have the soul and so forth because you don't need to me to think very much you know to say a few words like that but to really think about how do I remember that person. What do I appreciate about that person what was special about that person what was unique about that person and then put that into words. It expresses something of your appreciation in the relationship you have to that person and it's a healing experience at least for me and I think for many others who have similar experiences like that so here is another thing that I want to share with you. When you experience loss like that and pain that goes along with it. This loss has. Is an acute temptation to our faith it even has the potential to make you go shipwreck in your face to loose faith over that and why is that because. Pain raises some of the most difficult questions about God and His character questions that are not easy to answer not for anybody I think and the doubt that suffering initiate in your thinking. Has even the potential to destroy your faith. And all of a sudden you realize that more general responses and standard answers no longer carry they don't don't have the power to convince and this is when for most people if the stiff occult why questions come up have you ever heard those why questions wide at that happen why did that happen to me why her why not somebody else and you can extend out a litany of why questions and they are not easy to answer and. It is often that those why questions come up because we have a fundamental question about the goodness of God So here's my question to you we often say God is good a man. Yes I am and here that's good so do you really believe that Europe do you believe that God is good a man do you really believe that do you believe that God is only good nothing but good from head to toe from A to Z. from beginning to end through and through 100 percent nothing but good a man or do you believe what most people believe See most people believe when you ask them the questions they would say oh yeah God is good no question about it in fact they would say he is very good. He's very good very often but not always see that's what most people think they believe God is good he's very good he's very good very often but not always and if you're not sure that God is good always how can you trust him when life gets tough. In exactly those moments where you don't have the answers how can you trust him then and that's the moment when all those why questions come up because then because you don't know you're not convinced that God is truly good all the time then you 1st need an answer from God why this happened right and only if you have that answer will you be able to accept it or not. And that is a challenge with many people and I think we have to learn to trust God in such a way that we will trust Him even though we don't have all the answers to all those questions if you were to ask me why my wife had to die I don't have an answer to that. Now many people cannot bear this uncertainty they cannot bear not to have an answer for something that is pressing and existentially important to their lives so in order to find an answer people then resort to making all kinds of strange associations and constructions in order to legitimize to rationalize to explain why something had to happen because then I have an answer and a reason why I think's happened otherwise I don't have a reason and if you don't have a reason it's difficult to bear so people would come to me and would say well you know maybe your wife had to die and now comes the answer so that you are more sympathetic to other people of similar loss it's a good answer right now that's what many people think was not helpful for me. Didn't help me really and I don't think that is the answer to that experience why well I hope I'll learn something in that whole experience and I hope I I grew more compassionate I hope. But I don't think that she had to die in order for me to learn that lesson God could have used many many other avenues to teach me that lesson without having her to die so we don't have all the answers to all those questions and sometimes it's better if we just stay silent and bite on your tongue rather than come up with some strange explanation that might help you to find a reason why things haven't had to happen. When in fact we really don't know and we have to trust God and His goodness because we have all the reasons in this world to believe that God is good a man by the way how do you know that God is good you all said Yes amen amen prove me with 1 Bible text from scripture that God is good no it doesn't say that doesn't say that God is good John 163 thinks you know it well that's a conclusion but it doesn't say that So where's the Bible Where's the Bible proof here come on people people of the book where is the Bible text that says that God is good. All things work together for good doesn't say that God is good Sorry close but not quite. Very good where is that. Sloop 18 right good master he says why do you call me good there is only 1 who is good and that is God By the way it's good to know your Bible is right. Some of the most common things that we believe like God is good don't appear that often in the Bible and they are never the less true they are just a few texts that say God is good that is 1 of them look 18 but it's a biblical truth that God is good right and we know it from many other things but it's good to know your Bibles saw if if some people ask you you know how do you know that God is good well that is 1. That will specifically tell that the Bible says that God is good so we know that God is good and we have every reason to believe and I don't have the answer to all the questions but I know the 1 who has. And rather than having all the answers it is better to trust the 1 who has the answers even though I don't see the answers and that is I think what we have to learn because if we want to go through the end times we have to trust that God is good that he will carry us through that he will delight us to see to see us in heaven that he will do everything to save us and by the way when God tries everything to save us it's pretty much because he is almighty right and he can do quite quite a number of things that are impossible to us so he will do everything if there is a glimpse of hope he will make sure that that this will go through so. These Why questions we had our own set of why questions these are the questions that we raised and we asked I talked to my wife we I had the privilege to talk openly with her even even about her death and by the way I think that is most helpful if you are honest in your conversations and if you address things as they really are even though it's painful for you to even say it we have to face reality and we have to confront reality and we have to deal with reality so here that the why questions that we raised we said why why should that happen only to others and not to us or you tell me why why should only other people get cancer and not we why should sickness Why should suffering why should death only affect others and not us. After all we live in a sinful world. There are sickness all around us there's pollution around us we are part of that system and we can't escape until Jesus comes back and creates a new world that is free of all of that so why shouldn't that affect us as well yes we have a health message yes yes it prevents sickness and and many diseases but it's not a guarantee that none of us will ever get sick that's not even biblical you know even the Apostle Paul he had this thorn in the flesh he prayed 3 times and God did not remove it the prophet a liar he died after a long sickness probably cancer he died why didn't God heal him now you have people like that in the Bible so the Bible doesn't promise us that we will never get sick that we will never never die I mean will will have eternal life later but so as long as we are in this world I think we have to cope with that reality and saw that is that is something how much time do we have till 12 o'clock. So. Let me share maybe in conclusion another thing that was. Helpful for me in dealing with out whole experience. When you're in difficult times and circumstances you often hope that these difficult circumstances will change and you often pray that difficult people at difficult circumstances change for the better and. When we do though we tend to focus on the difficulties in life have you ever noticed that. And you pray just about the negative things in the difficulties in your life and we. Read them desperately wait that everything somehow changes to the better and we focus just on our obstacles and on our difficulties and then we start to compare ourselves with others and we starts to envy those who are better off than we are and then we asked why is that Lord that they are not sick but I am why are they more wealthy than I am and why is this or that and in doing so we actually focus more on ourselves than looking to God who is alone the foundation and the surety of our hope and my experience in situations like that is that. I have to make a decision that God calls me to make a decision do I. My impatience do I allow my doubts to question God's goodness and power to help or can I start seeing in the challenges of life unique opportunities that help me to become the very person that God wants me to be and that I would never be without that challenge see if that is the real decision that we have to face Have you ever thought that the difficulties that you face might be there that you have an opportunity to grow into. The person that got to decide here is you to be that you would never be if you would not face that difficulty and that challenge. I still distinctly remember the moment when I realized what that meant for me was I really really willing to accept the loss of my wife as part of my life see that is the question Am I willing to accept that reality that was something I had never wished for myself that is something that I have never planned that is something that I've never the sired this is not how I had envisioned the 2nd part of my life and it was not my fault and it was not her fault and yet it was part of my life. It was something that had become part of my biography of my story and it is something that distinguishes me from anybody else in this world it has made my life truly unique it has become part of my identity and more important than what is happening to me after all is how I respond to what is happening to me. It's not the most important thing what happens to you but the really important thing is how you respond to what is happening to you. And to accept that reality was tough I was not willing to accept that reality for a long time. Because this is not how I planned my life this is not how I had desired my life to be and it it occurred to me then and 1 moment there. That it is rather tempting. To remain in this illusionary state of mind in this make believe world in which I would not allow that reality or for a loss to be a really part of my life it seemed far easier to repress that painful experience and many people do and they will never get over that experience and they will never ever learn to live their life in a new dimension in a new riot or reality without that. Partner that no longer is there. Only when I had the courage to really confront this mechanism of denial and when I was honest to face that painful reality of the absence of my wife in my life with all the implications that that came along with it was I able to cautiously re order my daily life in a new way without her and it has helped me to to see things in a different light and to to be open to new possibilities and options now. I still remember when I I was bad that this is a battle that is going on in your soul you know am I willing to accept that as a reality of my life and I still remember reading a letter of a good friend of my wife she had gone through a difficult situations in her life Chris sister had committed suicide her mother got sick very sick another. Sister and the marriage was breaking apart and she she was wondering why is this happening to me why why why to me why not to other people why it to me until it occurred to her that this is part of her life this is part of what makes her her life. And when I realized that the battle was am I willing to accept that and I still remember that that moment when I was willing to accept that I had to cry that was tough I had to cry but at the same time it was a relief it was as if tons of weighty stones either would fall off my shoulders and I would all of a sudden become free to reorder my own life with a new reality and to see that perhaps God wants to use that not that he sensed that but that he wants to use them to shape me into that person that he wants me to be that I would perhaps never be without that experience and I think that's the beauty of God's plan and he doesn't like suffering he doesn't send sickness he doesn't delight in pain but he's suffering enough to use it still to his glory if we allow him to be shaped in that experience by His grace so that we can grow into people that trust him even though we don't have all the answers. I could go on and on and on there is much more that could be said. About an experience like they had. Let me just. I have to say this now let me just point you to this book I don't know whether you've seen that Book of Longing for God it's prayer and Bible journal I wrote that book it has grown basically out of my experience that I just shared with you. And if you're in it in an A in a situation like the AT it's tough I mean you you can go crazy over the things and saw. What I have written in that book. It has grown out of that experience and it's it's tested and tried so it's not just theory I have I have experience of tried every single line in that book now if you open the book most of the book is empty pages that's why I could write it so easily you know. But it's basically it's a it's a Bible prayer journal it's a journal where you have an opportunity for every day of the year to read a passage from the Old Testament and a passage from the New Testament and to write down the thoughts that come to your mind as you read the bible it's a little introduction at the beginning Sperry simple introduction on how to read the Bible for all it's worth and it's a wonderful gift even for you non Adventist neighbors who have never read the Bible who don't know how to open that book and to go about to give them an interest action to read the Bible for themselves without any commentary just to read the Word of God for the pleasure of it and then for every for every day you have room to write down prayer requests and prayer ideas. And if you were to follow that reading plan from the Old and New Testament it will lead to within 1 year it will lead you through the entire Bible you will have read through the entire Bible from A to Z. at the end of every month I have a short chapter just a short few pages on prayer so 12 times throughout the year you have an inspiration on prayer that you can try out something new about praying you know we usually pray if we're honest. Most of our prayers they tend to be Lord I need your help can you help me here can you help my children there help me do this do with this do with this this is not the kind of prayer that Jesus and God the lights and so I have a short prayer the chapter on on the prayer that God delights in and how can we pray in such a way that it's not centered on us but it centered on God and. And then I 1 of my favorite. Chapters is at the end of May I have prayers for others and I came across that idea when I read another book and I have $31.00 reasons so 1 reasons basically for every day of the month 31 reasons to pray for other people with the words of scripture and I started doing that for my own children and what I did you know you have in the Bible you have tics that talk about virtues patients love steadfastness. Courage and so forth and so I have taken Bible passages and with the words of the Bible you can fill in the name of another person your child and pray specifically for your child that on that day Lord let him be a person who has self control on that day Lord let him be a person to be generous let him be a person who is kind in his dealing with other people so you ask for specific things that you would like to see in the life of that other person. And I realized when I pray and I started praying for my children that way it's more direct than just praying help them in their exams help them here and there it's so general that you hardly find out you know where the god has answer that prayer and when I started doing that I realized well if my prayers are really meaningful in any way I had to start being that person that I want to see in the other person and then I realized all this is actually is not just something for my children I can use the same thing for the children the children Sabbath school that I teach in my church or for my. Colleagues at work or for my students that I teach and you can fill in any name you know and you pray specifically 1 month different things for other people that you would like to see in their lives so you have. You have many wonderful things that you can try out but I also tackle some tough ones like what you do when your prayers are not answered Maybe you've never experienced that you know you just experience the answers to all your prayers but sometimes we are faced with the reality that some of our prayers are not answered and what is happening to them what are we going through then and I have 1 chapter on how to deal with things that are not answered and what about praying and fasting and and so forth so it's 12 suggestions you know that you can try out and find out a new dimension in your spiritual life that will help you to open up new horizons in your experience with god. Time is almost up but we have 2 more minutes so I'll take 2 more minutes to explain 1 thing that has tremendously helped me cope over the grief. And a get a new perspective an attitude of gratitude. How do you get. Thankful when you don't feel like being thankful you know if you feel if you experience loss you don't feel thankful. So there's 1 chapter in here where I explain that and just briefly let me allow to to share that with you it's powerful powerful powerful it's life changing it has just 11 drawback The drawback is it's absolutely free doesn't cost you a penny and because it's free and it doesn't cost you a penny many people don't get you can you give it a try if you can go over that drawback if you can live with that drawback it will be a powerful tool for you to change your life. So here how can you develop an attitude of gratitude Take a sheet of paper piece of paper 1 piece of paper. Write down 10 words just 10 words. For which you are thankful for. That is hard work especially if you face a loss and you are angry you don't think about even 5 things that you're grateful. You have to think hard thinking to find things you say. Nothing comes to my mind well think you know start maybe with your eyes. Say I. Because I'm thankful that I can see. Colors that I can read you know that I can orient myself I'm thankful that I have a hand fingers. And with a fingers I can hold a book and open a book and write and type and touch a person I wouldn't be able to do that if I didn't have a hand you can say I'm I'm grateful that I have a bed a mattress to sleep in rather than lying on the cold floor so you write down 10 things once you write once you've written down 10 things you form a short sentence with that 1 word and in that sentence you express the reason why you're thankful for so I'm thankful for my hand because with my hand I can do this and that I'm thankful that I have a bed to to rest rather than having to lie on the cold for 1010 sentences once you've written down the sentence you read the sentence aloud so you write you read you hear you speak and the more of your senses are involved the deeper the thought will be ingrained in your thinking. So 10 things the next day you take a new sheet of paper. New reasons and if you want to intensify the experience repeat the 10 for reasons from the previous day at the end of just 1 week just 1 week you have 70 reasons to be grateful for and I guarantee you you cannot consciously exercise that and be a person. Grumpy person it isn't doesn't work it'll change something in you and the moment you look at things differently you look from a different perspective you develop a new attitude and it's a life changing. More of that is in the book you can get it. At Pacific press so 1st come 1st serve it was a joy for me to be with you here and I hope some of the things that I shared have been helpful for you and you can pass it on and may we all where we are all the people. Who delight in God. To see God and who are these full to end it along. This media was produced by audio verse 40 and added is layman's services and industry. If you would like to learn more about. These. Or if you like this free. Body you verse.

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