Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Reflections for the 2nd Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Close to the Brokenhearted

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

When your life seems to be falling apart, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When everything is going wrong, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When life throws an unexpected curve and you don't know what to do next, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When you are sick and you can't function as you want, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When a loved one is suffering and there's nothing you can do but pray and wait, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When you've lost someone you love, God is right beside you, holding you close.

Turn to Him. Feel His embrace. He knows your pain and fear. He holds your broken heart in His hands. He cares. He loves you. He may not fix everything right away because He has a plan for you, and that plan stretches far beyond your vision. But He sees. He understands. He will bring good out of everything that is happening, somehow, in some way. Trust Him. Hold on to Him. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

Friday – Some Practical Advice

Gamaliel was a practical sort of man, and he had some practical advice to offer to his fellow members of the Sanhedrin, who were all riled up about the ruckus created by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

Wait and see, Gamaliel told them. He then reminded them of two other such incidents that came to nothing. The disciples of Theudas quickly disbanded after their leader was killed, as did the those of Judas the Galilean. People soon lost interest and went on with their daily lives with no more fuss. Perhaps, Gamaliel implied, the same thing would happen now.

He therefore advised his fellow Jews to do nothing rash, “For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.”

But, he continued, if there really was something to all this, if Jesus really was Who He said he was, if God was indeed behind this, “you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Sanhedrin recognized good advice when they heard it (and they didn't know what else to do anyway), so they agreed to Gamaliel's plan. They would wait. They would watch. They hoped this new movement would go the way of the others. But some of them doubted it. Something strange was happening this time, something different, something beyond this world.

Saturday – Do Not Be Afraid

The sea was dark. The wind whipped around the disciples as they struggled to guide their boats across the lashing waves. They began to wonder if they would ever make it to shore.

Then one of them gave a shout. He pointed frantically toward the waves, and the others squinted to see what was so exciting. It took a few moments for the sight to register. It was Jesus! And He was walking on the waves. Fear gripped their hearts. Had He died? Was this His ghost? What else could it be? No one could walk on the sea like that.

As Jesus approached the boat, He looked at the disciples calmly and with great love and said, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Then He climbed in amidst the startled men, and immediately, the boat bumped into the shore even though they had just been in the middle of the sea.

This Gospel episode can easily apply to our lives. Very often we find ourselves in the midst of some storm of life, struggling against the wind and waves that threaten to overwhelm us. We don't know what to do. We feel as though we might go under. We begin to lose hope. And then Jesus appears. We perhaps aren't expecting Him at all, or we may not be anticipating His means of communication, but there He is. We wonder if it is really Him, if He is really coming toward us, if He really cares for us and wants to help us. But then, if we let Him, He climbs into our lives and says, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Then, sometimes, we bump into shore and our situations are suddenly resolved. Other times, though, we remain on a stormy sea, but it doesn't matter nearly so much. Jesus is with us. He is in control. We do not need to fear. He may allow the wind to blow and the waves to crash, but He will never let us drown. We are safe with Him, safe for eternity.

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