Friday, July 1, 2011

Inspiration from a Blind: Trusting the Trustworthy to Triumph over Tragedy

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"Help! Please don't leave me here." Joseph's muffled cries rang out from in the pit. He couldn't believe that his elder brothers could actually cast him into this hole. They wouldn't leave him here, would they? They just couldn't. "Help!"

"C'mon, don't mind him," said one brother. "Let's eat; I'm starved." It had been a long, hot day, grazing their flock, so it was a relief when they finally sat down to have some bread. While they ate, talked, and laughed, with their 17-year-old brother's cries in the background, the ever-increasing sound of a caravan interrupted their meal. They looked up, and saw The traveling caravan with camels bearing spices, balm, and myrrh. The caravan belonged to traveling merchants.

One brother by the name of Judah said, "What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, and let's sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not let our hand be on him; for he is our brother, our flesh." (Genesis 37:26-27, WEB) The rest of the brothers thought it was a good idea, so for twenty pieces of silver, they sold their little brother to the merchants.

By and by, the merchants arrived at their destination, Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, the captain of the guard of Pharaoh. The captain put Joseph in charge of all his household and business, and because God was with Joseph, all that Joseph did was successful, and consequently the captain prospered greatly.

As days passed, followed by weeks and months, Joseph matured into a very handsome young man, catching the eye of Potiphar's wife. Day after day, she asked him to sleep with her, but he refused every time, saying, "Behold, my master doesn't know what is with me in the house, and he has put all that he has into my hand. He isn't greater in this house than I, neither has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:8-9)

One day as they were alone in the house, the woman grabbed on to Joseph, demanding him to sleep with her, but he ran away, leaving his garment in her hands. When Potiphar returned, his wife accused Joseph of attempting to rape her. Furious, Potiphar threw Joseph into the dungeon, where he spent for years.

One night, Pharaoh of Egypt had two disturbing dreams, and once he was told that Joseph had accurately interpreted people's dreams before, he brought Joseph out of the dungeon and asked him to interpret the dreams for him. God made the dreams' interpretation known to Joseph, who told Pharaoh that the dreams meant that there would be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of severe famine in that entire region. He also suggested that Pharaoh store up some crops during the seven years of plenty, so there would be some food during the famine. In response, Pharaoh made Joseph the governor of Egypt, second in rank to the Pharaoh himself.

Once the famine rolled in, people throughout the land went to Egypt to buy grain, for only Egypt had stored crops. Among the buyers were Joseph's brothers who sold him twenty years ago. When they came before Joseph, they didn't recognize him. When he revealed himself to them, they were startled and frightened. But Joseph told them, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now don't be grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are yet five years, in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to save you alive by a great deliverance. So now it wasn't you who sent me here, but God, and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt." (Gen 45:4-8)

How was Joseph able to endure the injustice, the terror, the heartbreak, and the separation from his family all these decades? How was he able to forgive his brothers for committing such wrong against him? Above all, how was it that he never questioned or doubted God during his suffering? Because he simply trusted in Yahweh God Almighty. It was his simple faith in God that God had everything under control. He understood that God had a purpose for him, even though at first, he didn't grasp what that was exactly. Through his suffering and pain, God was working for everyone's good.

Now, what can we learn from the experiences of Joseph? How can we survive our own suffering and troubles like him? His story tells us that trust in God is the key. Only when we trust God will we be able to endure our hardships. And its only when we trust God will we be able to love Him unconditionally in spite all that we go through and see others going through.

How can we, like Joseph, love God unconditionally despite the suffering, the darkness, the hardship that surround us? By trusting God. Think about it: Can we love someone if we don't trust them? So love stems from trust. Therefore, to love God unconditionally is trusting Him unconditionally regardless of what we may face.

Unconditional trust is the ability to trust God despite all the difficulties, hardships, suffering, and evil of life. Unconditional trust is trusting God even when our circumstances seem to contradict all that is good and just. Unconditional trust is having trust in God despite seemingly hopeless situations.

Unconditional trust in God does not require the answers to our "why?" questions. It does not require for us to presently understand why God permits suffering and evil, why God allows people to experience difficulties, or why God does not end evil altogether right away. Unconditional trust is the simple faith in God. The Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

But the question now is: Why should we trust God? What good reasons do we have for trusting God under any and all circumstances?

To trust God, we must understand and keep in mind the unchangeable qualities of Yahweh God Almighty. Let's review some of His divine qualities:

1) Yahweh is sovereign: God is in absolute control. There's absolutely nothing in the universe that He cannot and does not control. Even seemingly bad circumstances are under His control. Everything happens on Earth only because He permits it. It is impossible for anything to happen without His control, permission, or will. Not even the fall of a sparrow is not without His will (Matthew 10:29).

2) Yahweh is omniscient: God is all-knowing. He knows everything that has ever happened, that is happening, and that will happen. Even before you think about doing something, He will know about it. Nothing can be hidden from Him, good or bad. He knows even the count of hair on your head (Matthew 10:30). While we are focused on the "now," God sees the whole big picture and the eternal future, so nothing is a surprise or an "accident" to Him.

3) Yahweh is omnipotent: God is all-powerful. He can do anything and everything. There's nothing that He cannot do...except to die.

4) Yahweh is love: God is not simply an all-loving God; God is the very representation of love itself. However, we must redefine love. Our society associates love with a warm, fuzzy feeling that is self-seeking. On the other hand, real, godly love is self-sacrificial love, and a love that loves what is good only. God does not love "unconditionally"--He doesn't love evil. He loves only good and hates what is evil. Thus, from this quality of love, comes His other qualities: justice, righteousness, and judgment.

5) Yahweh is light: Light represents all that is pure, good, holy, righteous, truthful, and faithful. We may consider some people to be "good" and "righteous," but no one can measure up to God's light. Jesus said that only God is purely good, in whom there's no darkness at all (Matthew 19:17; 1 John 1:5).

6) Yahweh is immutable: God does not change. His essence and qualities will never change. If He is all-knowing and all-loving today, He will remain all-knowing and all-loving forever. This also means that when He unconditionally promises something, He will always fulfill His promise. God cannot and does not lie.

When we put all these qualities together, we have absolutely no excuse not to trust Yahweh God at all times at all costs; it would be unreasonable not to trust Him. Only God can be trusted unconditionally, because only He is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, and unchanging. However, trusting Jesus, the Son of God, is equal to trusting God Himself, since Jesus is the exact spiritual image of God (Colossians 1:15). This is trusting the Trustworthy. This is how countless number of believers throughout the history of humanity have been willing to die for their faith in God, suffering all sorts of torture in the hands of ruthless persecutors (Hebrews 11:35-40). These people trusted in God and His promises, plans, and purposes, knowing fully this truth:

"All things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) No matter what happens in life, good or bad, small or big, absolutely everything will work out for good for those who love God. And how do we love God? By trusting Him and doing His will. So this means that everything will work out for good for those who trust in God and who do His will. Our circumstances may seem as if God doesn't care for us, but nothing can be further from the truth. God not only cares, but He has everything under control, and He has already planned everything out so that all things will conclude for our own good, and for His own glory. Right now, it is impossible for our imperfect and finite minds to comprehend how the evil events of the world could possibly work out good for us, but as long as we trust in God unwaveringly, we don't have to comprehend right now. Someday, we will all see the conclusion of His masterpiece, and once we do, we will understand, and glorify God for working everything out so perfectly and beautifully!

In conclusion, how can we survive our storms in life? By simply trusting in God. How can we love God unconditionally despite all the suffering we see around us? Again, by simply trusting Him. Trusting God does not require us to ignore or pretend that suffering doesn't exist. Trusting God is trusting Him in spite of suffering. In fact, when we trust Him in midst of suffering, that proves that we truly do trust Him. Think about it: if we had a perfect, prosperous, and problem-free life, trusting God would be a piece of cake taken for granted. It would not be too hard for us to trust a lifeboat when we're on dry land. But when we're out in storm-tossed seas, we would look on that lifeboat in a whole new way. Likewise, when we trust God as we suffer, that means we are serious about depending on Him and Him alone. And God is more trustworthy than a lifeboat; a lifeboat may save us temporary at best, but our God will save us eternally.

Our trust is most evident, genuine, and deep when we suffer. This trust in God will make us victors, not victims, when our suffering seems to overwhelm us, even to the point of death. Indeed, trusting God doesn't mean that we won't encounter troubles in life. It doesn't even mean that we will physically survive our storms. What it does mean is that even though we may not physically survive, we will survive as victors when we are resurrected unto eternal life on God's appointed time in the future, and thus, our victory will last forever, as opposed to our temporal suffering.

We must know that the troubles we experience now, however painful they may be, are temporary and are passing. What lies ahead, in eternity future, is what we need to set our eyes and hearts on, because God has it all planned out. God's Word says, "Our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we don't look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

The Bible also says, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us." (Romans 8:18) So focus on and trust in God's eternal promises, because our current suffering is insignificant when compared to our future guaranteed glory, so long as we remain faithful to God and Jesus!

My friend, if you want to win the eternal crown of glory, come to a saving faith in Yahweh and Jesus Christ if you haven't already. Open up your heart to the One who has given you the breath of life, and the One who has offered you eternal life. Don't die along with your troubles in life; embrace the glory that's waiting for you once your troubles pass. Today is your day of salvation, for tomorrow may be too late. Once you pass away or when Jesus returns (whichever comes first), it would be too late for you to change your mind and repent--the door to eternal life would close, and Jesus would say to you, "Most certainly I tell you, I don't know you." (Matthew 25:10-13).

Whoever calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved. Repent and call on Him, now.

~*~Q&A with Dr. Shirley~*~

Question: Once a person becomes a Christian by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and eternal life, would he or she experience less suffering in the world?

Answer: Being a Christian will bring more suffering of one kind, and less suffering of another kind into our lives. What it will not bring is no suffering.

The kind of suffering that a Christian will not experience (or experience less of) is the suffering that is the result of living a lifestyle of sin. For example, if we obey the Bible's commandment to love others as we love ourselves, we will not commit crimes that would send us to jail, such as stealing, kidnap, rape, and murder. If we heed God's Word to stay away from adultery, fornication, and other sexual sins, we would avoid unwanted pregnancies, STDs, a soiled reputation, and hurt feelings.

Ultimately and most importantly, true Christians will avoid the ultimate punishment and suffering: an eternal guilty verdict from God on Judgment Day. Those who refuse to accept Jesus as their only Savior will be sentenced to eternal death, never to be resurrected again.

The kind of suffering that a Christian will experience is the suffering for Jesus' name and for living according to God's will.

Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his lord.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do to you for my name's sake, because they don't know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me, hates my Father also. If I hadn't done among them the works which no one else did, they wouldn't have had sin. But now have they seen and also hated both me and my Father. But this happened so that the word may be fulfilled which was written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.'" (John 15:18-25)

During his earthly ministry, Jesus was heavily persecuted because he openly exposed and rebuked the hypocrisy and evil deeds of the religiously self-righteous. It was for this reason that he was falsely accused and convicted during an illegal trial held in the wee hours of the morning, and then was wrongly executed hours later (little did his murderers know that Jesus' death was actually a God-purposed sacrifice that would open the door to eternal life for those who believed in him).

If we whole-heartedly follow Jesus our Lord by teaching the righteousness he taught and correcting people's sins, it's no surprise if we would be persecuted the same way. In fact, if we have never experienced persecution as a Christian, then we must wonder: are we really living up to our title as a Christian? When our culture conflicts with God's principles, do we live by our cultural standards or God's? When our spouses, parents, friends, and co-workers tell us to do something that is against God's commandments, whom do we obey? If our allegiance is to principles and laws that conflict with God's, then we will certainly be loved and viewed as successful by the world's standards, all the while not realizing that we are actually people most miserable in the sight of God.

If we want to be true Christians--people who are Christians by their deeds, not merely their words--we are guaranteed to suffer for righteousness' sake, because when we, as the light of the world, expose the works done in darkness, those who work in the dark will hate us, "for everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God." (John 3:20-21)

To sum it up: True Christians will experience innocent suffering for Jesus' name. This is to be expected. If Christians don't experience persecution, then there's something wrong. Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12)

So, if you're a Christian, "don't be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. But because you are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory you also may rejoice with exceeding joy. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed; because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified. For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil doer, or a meddler in other men's matters. But if one of you suffers for being a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God. If it begins first with us, what will happen to those who don't obey the Good News of God? 'If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will happen to the ungodly and the sinner?' Therefore let them also who suffer according to the will of God in doing good entrust their souls to him, as to a faithful Creator." (1 Peter 4:12-19)

~*~Dr. Shirley's Corner~*~

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Dance with Your Heart:

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Of course, paperback versions of my books are available autographed at my site:

I've founded Ultra-Ability Ministry and launched the site Want to experience ultra-ability today? Then start a Bible study, for only knowing Yahweh and Jesus will you be ultra-abled. Be my Bible buddy and reply to this newsletter! I'd be more than happy to study the Bible with you via e-mail, without any cost to you. Our study will be in your own pace, in your style, at the comfort of your home. I'll answer Bible questions you may have, or help you better understand specific passages. You name it, and we'll do it! Just see me as your friend/guide/answer lady. I look forward to our journey together. Thank you.

~*~A Biblical Wisdom Nugget~*~

"Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: and hope doesn't disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)

One day, during his earthly ministry, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat to cross a lake. As they sailed, a violent storm suddenly raged, tossing the boat around like a toy and quickly filling it with water. Frantic, the disciples went over to Jesus, who was peacefully asleep in the stern, and cried, "Master, master, we are dying!" (Luke 8:24) Upon waking, Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea, commanding, "Peace, be still!" (Mark 4:39) Immediately, the wind and the sea calmed.

Jesus turned to his disciples, saying, "Why are you so afraid? How is it that you have no faith?" (Mark 4:40) His disciples had been with him for many months, witnessing him performing numerous miracles, from giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, to the raising of the dead. Thus, their lack of faith in the midst of the storm was unfounded. Yet, we mustn't chide them alone for their little faith. When we're faced with life's storms, how many of us cry out, "We're dying!" ourselves? Our disbelief in God or in His powers and our lack of faith in Him is not because we have no evidences of God or His powers; we disbelieve in spite of an abundance of evidences.

While the ultimate reasons for our suffering lie in Yahweh's hands, one way that suffering works for our good is to test, strengthen, and refine our faith. Our faith (or lack of it) in God is revealed only when we're under stress. Only when the lights go out would we go fetch a flashlight and put batteries inside. Likewise, when there's no storm to agitate us, we would not know how much or how little of faith we have. If our circumstances don't require us to live in faith, we wouldn't even know that we need faith in the first place.

When you're being tossed around in storms, how do you react? Do you throw up your hands in fear and despair, or do you confidently look onward and upward to God to give you the strength to conquer the storms in victory? How much faith does the storms of life stir up in you? Let's pray that God our Creator and Jesus our Lord will endow us with peace that can calm the most violent of storms, just as Jesus had on that fateful day out in the middle of the lake 2000 years ago!

May the grace and peace from Yahweh God and Jesus Christ be with you.!

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Best regards,

Dr. Shirley Cheng

Award-Winning Author with 27 Book Awards

Ultra-Ability Ministry

Proclaimer of Yahweh God's Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ

Author/Contributor/Editor of 35 books by age 27, Poet, Motivational Speaker, Self-Empowerment Expert, Advocate

Board member of World Positive Thinkers Club

"Although I'm blind, I can see far and wide; even though I'm disabled, I can climb high mountains. Let the ropes of hope in Yahweh God haul you high!"

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