Affliction

Just a few days ago, I had a conversation with someone who has gone through years of struggle. He’s prayed and sought God’s healing over and over again. He’s witnessed the healing and countless victories of other brothers and sisters in Christ, but for him it’s elusive. He often prays these words from Psalm 25:16-18: Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.  And yet, he remains in a broken state of disrepair.  After 18 years of constant illness, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and medications, he’s worn down, tired, and wonders where God is in all of it. What does one say to a person in this state? I just listened and made a few feeble attempts at encouragement as my heart broke for him.

In the midst of our conversation he said, “I’m a Christian, why doesn’t God help me?” I understand why he feels this way, but I have to consider scripture in the matter.  Psalm 34:19 tell us:  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. We will have afflictions. They will be many. But there is hope. God will deliver us. When? I don’t know. I’ve seen some receive instantaneous healing. Others are left struggling during their time on  this Earth, but we  have a promise of eternity with Jesus. We can cling to verses like Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. There is hope in that.

Abundance of the Heart

bible-heart As a child, I’d pop out of bed on Sunday morning and learn that week’s memory verse as I brushed my teeth. I continued to recite it as I dressed and on the ride to church on the blue Sunday School Express. Earning stickers on my chart was a fairly easy endeavor. My spongy, child-sized brain soaked up verses in quick fashion.

My children have memorized scripture since they were three years old through the Awana program. Their brains are much like mine was at their age, spongy. Last week I listened as Kendall recited one of the verses she memorized (I Peter 1:22). It was followed by the question, “What are three ways you can be unselfish toward your friends?” One thing she said was, “You can think about what they want and help them get it rather than focus on what you want.”

“Do you realize that idea comes from the Bible?” I asked.

“Really? Where?” she said.

I turned to Philippians 2:3-4. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

“Oh yeah!” she said. “We learned that verse in Awanas! I forgot about that.”

What struck me about this interaction is that Kendall did not recall the verse from Philippians and yet it flowed out of her when faced with the question of how to treat your friends. It is a part of her thinking, of who she is as a person.

Psalm 119:11 says, Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (KJV).  Kendall automatically knew that looking at her friend’s interests was the right thing to do because she had hidden God’s word in her heart. What other things might we be thinking and acting on that are from God’s word and we don’t even realize it? Or more daunting what might be programmed into our being that we are thinking and acting on that is not from God? Hmm, makes one wonder.

Isaiah 55:11 tells us, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. If we plant God’s word in our hearts, it will accomplish a godly mind-set. It will become part of who we are and part of our everyday thinking so that we too will automatically know how to treat a friend, or love our neighbor. We may not be able to quote the verse verbatim or even remember that our thought came from scripture. There is power in memorizing God’s word.

Although my adult brain works less like a sponge and more like a windshield covered in Rain-X, I am endeavoring to memorize some scripture this year. Not only will I set an example of life-long learning for my children, but I’ll be planting the word of truth in my heart which will become part of my thought processes and eventually pour out of me in the way that I live.

A Desperate Rescue by Ron Hunnicutt

It is very diabolical. She said  that her very own husband sold her into prostitution. What kind of man sells his  own wife to a pimp? Now she stands in a window in Amsterdam. Four hundred  windows display women segregated by nationality for wayward, predatory and  obdurate men to purchase for sex. The man who would become her husband was  traveling through Singapore, her home. She was smitten. Her family was  delighted. The day that every little girl dreams about finally occurred. Her  knight had arrived.

But before the honeymoon even  started the knockdown blow of betrayal kicked hard. They arrived in Amsterdam,  her identification and passport was seized, and she was delivered to the pimp.  Unable to speak Dutch, she was embarrassed to tell her family and afraid to go  to the police. So evil set in – every night.

I would know nothing about  “Annie” except that her unfortunate story is told by Naomi  Zacharias of Wellspring International, a division of Ravi Zacharias  Ministries. Wellspring researches and supports ministries that help  rescue women out of these desperately wicked conditions.

Amsterdam flashes world-class  fun, lights, music, glamour and excitement. They don’t advertise in bright  lights that the women, made in the image of God, are being used in the worst  way. They do not flash in neon lights that some strains of gonorrhea are  resistant to antibiotics. They also do not inform unsuspecting wives back home  of infidelity to prevent further spread of disease.

Annie was eventually able to get  a passport and return to Singapore. But once her family learned of her slip into  the abyss they disowned her. They rejected her. What word do we use when evil  strikes hard and then brutally strikes again?

She said that she returned to  Amsterdam because that’s all she knows. Even if she found redemption in a church  her identity in the congregation would be “ex-prostitute” so she shuns that  option. If she returns home the red taint of “prostitute” scorches her. So she  stands in the window with obsequious resignation but deep down she hates the men  who take advantage of her.

The germane issue is this: good  men can do something. Those of us who are struggling day in and day out to be  numbered among good men can support Wellspring. Wellspring helps organizations  that rescue these women out of these horrific situations. And like one good man said if we do for one what we wish we could do  for many then we have done something great for both the one and our own  soul.

Naomi Zacharias also spoke of  another woman who wished to jettison prostitution and acquire the skills of a  chef. With Wellspring’s benevolence she now delights the palates of patrons at a  four star hotel. So the grand idea is to support Wellspring and then find out  who you helped later in heaven. That works for me.

Anyone who listens and observes Ravi  Zacharias will quickly conclude that he is a faithful ambassador for  the things that are important to God. For those who seek the truth with a  modicum of intellectual honesty Dr. Zacharias is an invaluable resource. Engage  with due diligence and research. Prove to yourself that Wellspring is one of the  best nonprofits on the planet. And remember that most of us in America are rich  beyond imagination compared to most in the world. We can give when we really  want to.

Presume that when you support  Wellspring you are rescuing your very own daughter or sister because in God’s  economy that is precisely the case.

Want to help and make the most  impact in situations like this? What if one hundred percent (100%) of your  donation went directly to those in need? Wellspring International is  an arm of Ravi Zacharais  International Ministries. Ravi is a well-known International speaker and  defender of the Christian Faith. Administered by Ravi’s daughter Naomi Zacharais , Wellspring  covers their own expenses, investigates all requests for funds thoroughly, often  going to the location. They do the research so you can be confident that your  money goes where you want it to. One Hundred Percent (100%) of  your money goes to help women  and children in crisis.

Ron  Hunnicutt is a guest writer from Faithwriters.