Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Rawness of Life

God is Good…all the time! And He gives us what we need at the precise moment when we need it. In the case of our friends Martha and Mary, we see how Mary was given to Martha as a reminder of the need to choose wisely, and above all, to seek Him first! Martha, on the other hand, was given to Mary to remind her of the need for action and to give her a push when all she wanted to do was just to sit around, dwelling in her pain and loss. The crowd of friends and mourners was given to both sisters as a support network in their time of great anguish and grief. Lazarus was given not only a new life, but helping hands to get him out of his grave clothes and back on the road again. And, of course, Jesus was given to all as a Comforter, Savior, Redeemer, Giver of Life, God with Us…

In our very lives, God also manifests Himself to us in the way He meets our needs. The problem is that often, at least in my case, I fail to see Him. I beg Him to make His presence evident in my life…and I fail to see Him in the beauty of the sunrise. I wonder where He is, when He is in the middle of the storm. I shake my head in fear when I don’t feel Him near, and I miss Him in the warm embrace and kind words of those around me. I allow anxiety to overpower me, because I forget that He is my Strength!

Over the last few weeks, I have been falling into the abyss of fret and worry due to pending health exams both for me and for Dan. If there is one thing that can monopolize my sanity and thought process is upcoming tests. Around the same time, I received an invitation to join a private social media group that was trying to gather as many of those who were part of an ESL class 30 years ago as possible. What happened was that in 1988, 60 kids from Panama, including me, received a scholarship from the U.S. government to come to this country to attend college. That’s how I landed on this neck of the woods. But, before we could all arrive at our destinations, the 60 of us spent an entire year as residents in a dorm at the Panama Canal College in Panama City, studying English and American culture in preparation for our university experience. We lived in this dorm for 12 months, 7 days a week. It was a total immersion program. We did everything together. And, out of that experience, unbreakable friendships and even marriages emerged.

The thing is that it is impossible to keep in touch with a group that large. Therefore, once we departed for our colleges, we were only able to continue our close-knit unity with the few closest to us. Years upon years have gone by, until, all of the sudden, out of the blue, I received an invitation last week to join this social media group. I entered my phone number and in I dove into the most amazing social experiment I’ve ever participated in…actually, it feels more like the continuation, or part two, of the most amazing experiment I’ve ever been a part of…

People whom I haven’t heard from in almost 30 years were reunited again, and what has unfolded has been more than miraculous. For me, in particular, this has become the most effective escape valve God could have ever provided in my time of anguish and anxiety. As God would have it, I have been able to read and interact with my old pals almost non-stop! And it has been a true God-sent gift.

Last week, we read the really sad announcement that the Mother of the one under whose initiative the group was formed, passed away. The demonstrations of friendship, love and solidarity in his loss have been truly moving. Many, including me, have manifested the incredible timing of this group in our lives and the huge difference it has made. God has blessed us beyond what we can see in the material world…He has given us each other again to help carry our burdens.

In talking to one of my dearest friends, she mentioned how we have been able to witness “the rawness of life” during these past days. Yes, indeed…life is hard…life is raw…but we have a Great God that knows it, and takes care of us as we walk through this valley of shadows and tears.

Just like He did with Lazarus, He gives us those who help us get out of our grave clothes so we can start to live again.

Praise You, Lord Jesus…Name above all name…Emanuel!

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