April 30

Gold is one of the most sought-after materials in the world – it is a beautiful yellowish color, it is rare, and it does not tarnish. Most other precious metals, like copper and silver, don’t stay in their pure states for very long. Gold has become a standard like no other. We use it to designate the very best of many things – the gold standard, gold medals, and the Golden Rule.
            The Golden Rule is not unique to Christianity, though Jesus mentions it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12), but it is considered to be central to Christian ethics. Sometimes, though, it seems as if this gold is tarnished. If you’ve read the news lately, the Golden Rule no longer seems to apply to anything or anyone in this world. The Golden Rule has been replaced by this rule: “Do unto others before they do unto you.”
            I’m no theological expert, but I’m pretty certain that isn’t what Jesus or any other religious leader who advocated The Golden Rule had in mind. I also don’t know very many people who like being treated like yesterday’s garbage. For the world’s sake, we must reclaim the original sense of the Golden Rule and put it out there for all to see, with no hidden motives. We reap what we sow; let us, therefore, strive to sow good in the world so that we may reap the benefits.


April 11

“A major part of the Christian journey is learning how to handle those times when the heavens are locked, when our lives are weighted with the winter garments of despair, pain, worry and loss. We try desperately to convince ourselves that we don’t serve a God who has absented himself from the listening post, who has hung up a “Shop’s Closed” sign and taken off to vacation somewhere in the balmy south.” -Karen Burton Mains

I am angry at God right now. My sister’s husband has cancer. He was diagnosed 2 years ago, but the past few months his health has declined and his symptoms have gotten worse. My sister said to me tonight she is watching her husband die. I am not the first one to be mad at God. I am not the first one to not understand human suffering. Sometimes it is easy to look the other way when others suffer, but not when your own sister is describing to you about her husband literally starving to death in front of her. I feel so helpless. I have been praying for them since the diagnosis. I can listen to her cry and yell and be angry. I know God is there in our suffering, but sometimes it sure is hard to feel it.  I can’t fix the suffering for my sister and her husband, unfortunately, no one can. But I can try to “be” there for her. I can check in on her, even if I think maybe it isn’t a good time or I may be bothering her. I can cry with her. I can just listen to her and ask others to pray for both of them. Here on earth we can be God’s arms to give a hug, or shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold. We can be God’s ears, to be present and listen.

“The literal translation of the words, ‘pray always’ is ‘come to rest’…This rest, however has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle”. - Henri Nouwen

God’s spirit is right along side helping us along…He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of wordless signs, our aching groans. Romans 8:26-27 (The Message)

Gracious Father, help us to be the vessels for you here on earth when others are suffering. Help them to feel Your presence through us. Amen.