Where Hope Sits

Hope always sits within your reach, always.

Hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Some days, It’s downright hard to Hope.

One frustrated student joins our math class late most days with little motivation to lift a pencil. Her name is Hope.

The promise I’ve made her is this: I am on your side. I will support you in every way I can while you persevere and grow your skills and understanding. I won’t change my mind about you, decide you are not worth my time, or give up on you. I believe in you, this is my promise. Will you believe me? Will you trust that what I am saying is true? Will you choose to hope?

Sometimes, I feel unmotivated too. Why does it matter? What’s the point?

The promise Jesus makes to me is this: I am on your side. I will support you in every way you need while you grow and learn all I have designed for you. I will not change my mind about you – I completely love you. I will not decide you are not worth my time or give up on you. I believe in you, this is my promise. Will you believe me? Will you trust that what I am saying is true? Will you choose to hope?

This is the ground-shaking promise of a committed God, to me.

And I am reminded:

Hope doesn’t come through believing in myself, my abilities, or that my circumstances will change.

Hope appears when I believe what He says about me is true. Hope is trusting.

Choosing Hope brings change:

  1. It changes how we view ourselves

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” – 2 Cor 5:17

  1. It changes what we value

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Matt 6:21

  1. It changes what we do with our lives

“When Jesus saw him laying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, Do you want to get well?” – John 5:6

Hope always sits within your reach, and the brave heart reaches out and opens up to receive it.

Hope reached out and it’s changing her heart. She recently wrote to me:

I believe in myself in this class and I will keep going because I know I can do amazing!

Hope is not the belief that you can change – or your life can change.

Hope is the belief that Jesus can change you – and there is enough for everyone to reach out and take it.

Fierce Hearted

Early this morning I moved with gym beats while watching the interviews of hockey players on Sports Center. Oh, what it must take to live a life under a microscope. Sports icons spread messages to masses with their words and actions and their fame makes them far-reaching influencers and they can choose how to use it. The recent devastation in Las Vegas is a reminder that darkness encroaches when people use their freedom and influence to damage. As Christians, we carry the light of the world and the shock of the shootings is a reminder to move light into all corners and shadows of the world.

Two things we all have; freedom and influence.

As I kept the elliptical moving this morning, I remembered the retreat I recently attended near the Great Falls of Ontario. As I sat around tables with leaders from across the nation, Author and speaker Holley Gerth shared about living as a public figure and influencer. Holley spoke a poignant message with tear-spilling passion, reminding me of our shared call, as light carriers, to influence.

The title of Holley’s message and new-released book is, Fierce-Hearted.

Fierce means to be “marked by unrestrained zeal.”

To Holley, A heart full of zeal coupled with God’s love is unbeatable, and blazes with true light.

By every standard of success society would use to measure, Holley meets the mark! She is a best-selling author, speaker and life coach and her blog, incourage, is wildly popular! But Holley is a fierce-hearted influencer with a Kingdom measuring stick…

When asked about her successful writing career, Holley’s eyes were pricked by tears and passion – the kind that begins deep down in your belly and compels you to speak honest words. She said a person should write to serve readers … It is a service; an act of giving – of generosity. It is not about self-promotion or an ego boost. That kind of influencing will always disappoint.

She said, “It is about loving and serving your reader and publisher … it is about stewarding your gifts … it is about generously sharing your heart with people.”

Holley’s words sat with me and spun in my mind. “To have a soft heart in a hard world is not weakness, it’s strength.”

The Gospel spreading founder of the Alpha Program, Nicky Gumbel says there are two ways to live. Either we live in strength for God’s glory or weakness for our own.

He says we give God glory by:

  1. Becoming more like Jesus.
  2. Serving humbly, and sometimes secretly.
  3. Loving people, one at a time.

Sometimes, I complicate this sacred faith journey that is meant to be joy –but Holley’s fierce hearted commitment to be light has reminded me to fix my eyes on the greatest fierce-hearted influencer of human history, Jesus.

So, when the world seems in an upheaval, remember to be fierce and trust,

Greater is He living in you, child of God, than He who is in the world (Paraphrase 1 John 4:4-6).

Check out Holley’s blog at holleygerth.com!

The Writing’s On The Wall

“According to Dr. Siegel, while nobody wants to be ill, many patients say that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them. It helped them appreciate life and to express their feelings to their loved ones. They were able to pick up the paintbrush they previously had been too busy to hold. Even illness can be a blessing.” – Lori Beth Jones Jesus CEO

Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Sheryl Sandberg confirms this in her book Option B, as she discusses grief, resilience and her path to finding Joy. She says her life is better after losing her husband because of the joy and gratitude that she has cultivated as a result. Although she wishes she could have her husband back – she acknowledges her life has improved greatly since his passing.

Hardships can produce personal growth and can be catalysts for the creation of monumental works. Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman writes, “Adversity can provide powerful inspiration for work that strives to make sense of the artist’s inner life and emotional state” –Wired to Create. In fact, some of the world’s most celebrated works have been squeezed from dire tears and lonely hours. Some examples are Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. There is a strong link between trauma and creativity, and varying modes of creativity have proven to be healing – this is not surprising.

God can transform the lowest moments of our lives to make mighty movements of restoration in and around us by building gratitude and resiliency in our hearts – and helping us to find meaning in adversity.

The good news is we don’t have to experience difficulty in order to grow or obtain inspiration for great conceptions or creations. We can choose to make meaning today no matter our circumstances.

Recent research says, “Positive events grounded in meaning – as opposed to accomplishments, relationships or events evoking pleasure – are most likely to lead to growth.” These experiences include awe, wonder, inspiration and connection to God. These experiences can lead people to see the world anew, experience inner growth, and produce great works. If people choose to make meaning from these positive experiences, they are able to “Move towards new goals, change their relationships, priorities, identities and even spiritual beliefs” – Wired to Create

We don’t need to wait for tragedy to strike in order to grow resiliency and joy and we needn’t experience grief to create with robust fervor. Perhaps we can have gain without pain after all.

We can do this by pausing at the painted sky, stopping throughout the day to re-align the heart, mind and soul with God through prayer and meditation, and we can pause to ponder the unfathomable love of the cross. These experiences can be catalysts for growth and creativity in the same way suffering can be.

I have been spending days making meaning of the world as a camp speaker with energetic teenagers. The cabin walls of this rustic place are covered with names scripted by campers from decades past. The writing on the walls tells stories of people who have experienced the wonder of God here. I recognize many of them to be people who were impacted and grew in astonishing ways through experiencing God in this place.

Choosing to make space to experience God is choosing to grow and be inspired. Don’t wait for mighty storms to hit in order to pursue the best life. Today waits for you – with moments of awe and wonder to be uncovered and discovered. We can indeed have gain without pain; the writing is on the wall.

The Moment You Were Born

At the moment you were born, your mom’s brain got a shot of oxytocin and she was likely feeling love towards you as a result. (Thank you oxytocin!)

This week, my sister accomplished what I would argue is the greatest feat known to human existence… (giving birth!) She said exuberantly, “I didn’t know I could feel this way about another human being!” Oxytocin was flying high in her brain at this moment and this surge felt like love. It was designed by Love himself.

Did you know – It’s not strong legs that keep a person standing through life’s instability – it’s strong chemicals! The right chemicals…. It’s all part of God’s divine design. People prosper when they feel loved.

A common church message is … the unimaginable, unconditional love of God can satisfy the soul in the midst of all kinds of circumstances – and that we thrive when we receive and give love. … This is true. But there are brain factors that make it tough for us to experience this … A few years ago – I sat with my Bible open and read the words, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” – Psalm 90:14

Instead of pretending I was experiencing this satisfaction God promises – I honestly admitted – I wasn’t feeling satisfied at all! What did it even mean to be satisfied by love? I remember praying to experience this kind of divine satisfaction.

Simon Senik, human psychology researcher, says that a happiness chemical called oxytocin surges through our brains when we feel secure, safe, like we belong and are valued. Senik calls this the “trust” chemical – and everyone knows it takes time to establish trust! This chemical increases slowly over time in a body and mind that lives and enjoys healthy relationships where deep trust is cultivated. This requires vulnerability – and openness – NOT an easy way to live!

Oxytocin in a body means a resilient life. Most of us have had life-changing moments that define our days and paths. Those moments remind us that we are not in control – we will all face these. This week I heard many tales of people facing uncertain life moments: My sweet sister with a new baby, a brave entrepreneur, the mama of a child with down syndrome, and the audacious adventures of a committed ministry leader. Each one faced the unexpected – dopamine doesn’t sustain satisfaction through struggle. It’s a short term happy feeling producer. Oxytocin, on the other hand, gives strength for the long haul. It builds a foundation that stands firm in family life, business challenges and personal endeavors.

The brain is a tricky grey matter. Dopamine is also a happy chemical, and we get a shot of it when we buy something new, check something off of a “to-do” list or finish a project. Senik calls this the “greedy chemical” in leadership because it is released instantly when we do something for ourselves. This chemical is highly addictive and easily accessible! We don’t have to be vulnerable to experience this one – and we don’t have to wait for it to build up over time. When we get dopamine flowing lavishly, our brain can be tricked to think it has all it needs in the department of “happy chemicals” – and the commitment to build deep, trusting relationships can disappear. When this happens – our deep resiliency disappears too. This is a fast-acting happy chemical!

An experience of unconditional love produces oxytocin – and God’s supply is endless and always available and accessible. People with high levels of oxytocin live longer. They are happier. Their immune systems are strong. When we build a deep, trusting relationship with unconditional love – we have lots of love to give away. We get all the courage and desire we need to love people well, even if we have been hurt.

Senik says organizations thrive when they build a culture of trust – the key for all of us is to: build up oxytocin in the body – and God’s love in the heart. This is lasting satisfaction – and it is connected to the right chemical! When people feel safe, they flourish – it’s part of God’s divine design and it begins the moment we are born.

Does God Want You To Be Happy?

It’s been said that happiness is fleeting and that joy is deep down and lasting. Joy is a choice and happiness an emotion. Some suggest happiness is trivial and should not be pursued. After all, joy is spiritual while happiness is, well … not.

For North Americans, happiness sits at the top of the “want list.”

So, what is happiness anyways? Why does everyone want something so badly that doesn’t seem to last?

We want what we can’t have. We can’t have real happiness without Jesus.

The Hebrew word in the Old Testament for happiness is ashre, translated as “well-being,” “flourishing,” and “happiness.” This word carries the idea of someone experiencing authority, peace and rest in God. It is used through the Psalms and Proverbs to describe the happy state of those who know God. Tim Keller teaches that happiness is indeed an emotion or a feeling and it happens deep down in the soul. Bible scholar Jonathan Pennington writes, “This flourishing can never occur fully apart from a proper relationship with the creator God.”

For those who want some, listen … Jesus shouted nice and loud for the crowds gathered near the mountain just off the shores of the Galilean Sea… Can you hear Him?

“You’re happy when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God …”

“You’re happy when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re happy when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re happy when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re happy when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re happy when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re happy when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re happy when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. – Matthew 5:3-10 msg

Recently, I went along with a brave girl to deliver cards to elderly friends with words from Jesus scrawled inside. The words were gems of hope and produced happy hearts. What stood out to me though, weren’t the smiles of the elderly, but of that girl … that selfless girl who has been spending days in palliative care with her family as cancer wages war against her dad. Her warm smile. Her peace. As we walked out of the building – she smiled wide with tearful eyes and said, “That made me so happy.”

Happy is she. No one can steal that kind of happy. No one can explain it. Everyone wants it because it makes smiles in the wasteland. Jesus’ famous echoes from the Mount take us right to it. It’s there waiting for us.

No, happiness is not shallow or superficial. It is deeply spiritual – in fact, it’s born in the Spirit – in the very place your life is connected to Christ through the cross – if you believe the cross was enough. Through relationship with Him. This kind of happy is starkly durable. Paul writes about it saying, “Happy are those who are declared righteous without working for it…” – Romans 4:6 NLT paraphrase

Kay Warren says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of the details of my life.” Maybe joy and happiness are not that different after all – maybe choosing joy – a settled assurance – brings feelings of happy – peace and rest.

 

It’s Worth It

Welcome my friend Jocelyn Ens as she tells about her courageous journey to choose a vulnerable life instead of a self-protective one. She explains how God is shattering walls that have kept people at a distance. Vulnerability is bringing vitality and joy into her life in exciting ways. May you be encouraged today by her empowered story, as I have been…

It’s Worth It

Vulnerability // the quality or state of being open to the possibility of being attacked or harmed. Vulnerability can also be translated as being exposed, sensitive, passive, unguarded.
A long list of things I do my best to avoid.

  • I want to stay hidden.
  • I want to be in control. ALL. THE. TIME.
  • I want to be blunt and tell people what I really think.
  • I want to be perfect and have it all together.
  • I want to not only have a plan A and B, but a C, D, E and F (just in case)

The idea of vulnerability makes me uncomfortable.

Exposing the good, bad, and the ugly pieces of myself to others terrifies me. What if they don’t like me?
What if they betray me?
What if they disappoint me?
What if… (you fill in the blank).

I do my best to selectively choose who I will trust and open up too. (And trust me, there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get there).

God’s word says something different though.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “For my grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.”

My imperfections and weaknesses are no surprise to God. It doesn’t make him love me any more or any less. His love is constant, unconditional, and unchanging. In fact, my weaknesses give God space to reveal His great power.

2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

I don’t need to be afraid of exposing my weaknesses to others. Being open and authentic with those around me allows the light of Jesus to shine through me.

By now you’re probably thinking, yeah that sounds great but don’t you know how hard that is. Believe me, I know it’s easier said than done.

I struggle with the idea of not being perfect. I struggle to trust others. I struggle when I don’t have a clear plan.

What I am realizing is, I am missing out.

I forfeit joyful laughter with friends, encouragement from others when I need it most, and giving and receiving genuine love in my relationships.

Will no one ever disappoint me again? No. Will everything work out exactly the way I want? No.

The beauty of vulnerability is being willing to risk it anyway.

The pros far outweigh the cons.

The best part is you don’t have to do it alone. When others let you down, disappoint you, or betray you, there is a loving heavenly Father waiting to comfort you with arms wide open.

So be encouraged.

When it seems easier to retreat. When it seems easier to pretend everything is fine. When it seems easier to put up a wall no one can get through. Remember…

It’s worth it.

-Jocelyn Ens

 

About Jocelyn: You will usually find Jocelyn studying at school, working, or volunteering. She is a second year nursing student at the University of Saskatchewan. She has a passion to work in health care and hopes to apply to the College of Medicine one day.  She also work as a Swimming Instructor and Lifeguard. Jocelyn is spreading her passion to live joyfully, courageously and vulnerably by helping others to do the same. She serves on the LEAD team for Mirror Mirror YXE – a non-profit community group that exists to place value on girls and women. They do this by providing tools and education that foster a strong sense of identity, belonging and purpose and to inspire girls and women to make a difference in their world! Check out their work at http://www.mirrormirroryxe.com

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A Mother’s Day Hope Float

“I had never felt so desperate … Like I couldn’t go on … I thought my life was ending…” Winnie’s words were slow and real as she recounted her own mothering journey as a newcomer to Canada. She battled hopelessness for years while raising her baby girl named Hope.

As she told me her Hope story, she gazed up from behind tinted glasses and said, “When Noah built the ark, it didn’t just appear. God gave specific instructions about how to build the boat so it would float. God made us to float too – but we’ve got to pay attention to His instructions.”

The ark is a ground-shaking symbol of hope, restoration and protection. It evokes images of rounded rainbows that fill skies around the globe and speak hope to all who gaze on these rich rain-stained rays. The image of the rainbow, of Hope, transcends culture, color, language and worldview … it shatters biases and misunderstandings and unifies the hope-hungry world. It shouts fresh anticipation to human hearts from pole to pole, and is painted by the finger of God for this very purpose. Just as Noah’s boat was meant to float, we are all meant to live with hope.

There was another kind of Ark before Jesus came to set the world free, the Ark of the Covenant. This Ark carried the presence of Hope Himself … Warrior man David danced with rowdy passion at the sight of it.

The presence of God is the hope-sprouting goods we are meant to feast on and is available to all through Jesus. I was chomping bites of it as Winnie recounted the stories that have marked her mothering years. There were seasons of trials, uncertainty, sickness and fear – but in the midst of it – Winnie tells two defining moments when God subtly spoke Hope to her heart, once through a television sermon and another time through the mouth of another struggling mama. It was these two distinct moments when Winnie had absolute assurance that God’s presence was with her, and Love was on His way. Her circumstances had not changed, but Hope changed her heart and propelled her with energy and courage to walk on under the rainbow banner of God’s presence.

Love always hopes. (1 Cor 13:7) and God is love.

I saw God’s present-day Ark-Building instructions being carried out by two other mighty moms this week.

Rebecca is journeying through her first year of motherhood and told me about a key to contentment that unlocks joy. She said she avoids comparison chatter about her little one and overlooks the buzz about first year landmarks and baby accomplishments. She avoids reading content that may tempt her to evaluate her worth as a mom measured up or weighed against anyone else’s. She looks for baby health and lives in moments and finds life by following these instructions, “Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won’t need to compare himself with someone else.” – Galatians 6:4

There isn’t room for thoughts of envy and joy to co-exist in a brain and feelings of greed and gladness cannot mix. Rebecca’s choice to heed God’s instructions keep her hope floating and I was inspired by the size of it in the midst of life-waves.

Janice, another mom, runs a school on a Saskatchewan First Nations Reserve. She daily cooks breakfast and lunch for many students, assists in the classroom and cares for several children at home.

As Janice told about the school and the fourteen-year journey of keeping it running in her community – the focus was not on the struggle … although she could choose to focus there … The thrust of her story centered on God’s provision and presence through it all. Janice follows God’s Hope-building instructions, “Fix your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and “Be strong and courageous, put your Hope in God” (Psalm 31:24).

Winnie, Rebecca and Janice have very different life experiences, but they have all built Hope rafts that bob with endurance and laugh with authentic joy. We were all made to float, and enjoy the thrill of brilliant blessings and persevere through unruly waters knowing that Hope is present and Love is on His way. Float on through life, my friends! Have a Hope-filled Mother’s Day!

It Is Well

“I remember putting my head down on the table and thinking to myself, ‘I think I might die’ … the chemo treatments were making me so sick…”

My friend Anne spoke candidly to a small group of listening mamas about her journey with breast cancer. While she spoke, infant drool slipped from a beautiful tinny mouth onto my black leather pants. My polished-looking, teacher-ready outfit was now marked by the gaping giggles of a bouncy girl. Her unbounded laughter had spilled right onto me. It was messy and gorgeous – and later that day, my students would be sure to let me know.

Anne continued telling about her life as a mom saying, “We make mistakes …. I don’t lose my temper often, but when I have – it’s been with my kids.” Heads nodded, smiles cracked, and knowing laughter filled the room. There is something sublime about stark honesty … when you encounter it something ripples deep inside – Look at that person expressing their true life, thoughts and feelings – I can sit comfy in my own life too, even if it is untidy. As I sat with a dimpled delight looking up at me, I thanked God for the sincerity of the moment.

If you ever get the chance to hear Anne speak about her life and her Jesus, you would never think it difficult for her. I know it is, but it doesn’t stop her. Anne has been entrusted with a story and stamped with words designed to set freedom free – and she knows it. So, she shows up and opens up.

Two years earlier, Anne carried the same gutsy honesty onto a church choir stage and spoke with pails of conviction telling the congregation that her cancer fight was well with her soul. Her chemo hat moved with spirit that day as she shared about the struggle of an unfinished battle.

In the room full of moms, several of us recalled Anne’s song from two years prior – we agreed every time we hear it we think of her, and we gulp courage. For us, the song is forever linked to the real brave of a bold woman – the kind you can drink from … because it’s human. It’s fit for human consumption – it’s not fake-baked or preservative-packed – it’s real soul nourishing.

Two years ago, Anne showed up on that stage and she fought her heart out with her song and story. She sang It Is well and sick people felt well while thirsty wells were filled by sopping wet song tones.

Two days ago Anne showed up again to a toy-stranded room filled with hollers overflowing from the playroom. She didn’t mind any mess. Again, she opened her mouth and soul with story and song and sang fears and insecurities right out of hearts. It Is Well.

The more we can show up, the more we will live life full and leak out life. Whether we show up with slobber-colored pants, a cracked heart, battling bones, unsettled nerves or gentle rolls of laughter … to show up and be together is to fill up where the unwell get well and the well overflows.

Evolving Identity

I recently sat with celebratory noodle bowls and this sweet friend to marvel at the beauty of her baptism! I noticed how she spoke differently to me than she did to her Nigerian friend on the other end of her cell phone. This prompted my question, “What is it like to live in two different cultures? Is it confusing at times?” She began to expound the culture identity struggle she has experienced – and how she has found great rest, freedom and joy in her own unique story! I wanted to share her words with you …

Evolving Identity

Have you ever been in a group and been asked to tell who you are: your name, age, place of birth and your family? These are the simple parts of who we are but our identity is so complex, and is made up of more than we can think of in five minutes. I decided to ask Wikipedia (where all earthly answers to lifes questions can be found!) what identity is:

“In psychology, identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person (self-identity) or group (particular social category or social group).The process of identity can be creative or destructive.

Our sense of identity is fluid (a process), we get older, have new experiences and our sense of self evolves. Our identity is too often shaped by things that are beyond our control: where we were born, where we grew up, the family we were born into, our past and present experiences. I think most of us are too aware that our sense of identity can be strong and healthy or destructive, and this has monumental impact on how we live life.

The world labels and categorizes people – male, female, Caucasian, Hispanic, African, athletic, artistic, funny, smart, rich, poor, skinny, fat etc. I’m certain there are over 50 words that can be used to describe every single person. A lot of these labels are based on outward appearances, or our relation to others. Certain expectations come with such labels, and this can become burdensome!  It is ironic how our sense of self can be so tied to others and their perceptions.

As a teenager, I moved across continents to begin life in a new country. As I began to adopt the ways of a new culture, I also was never more aware that I was different, I stood out and sometimes I just wanted to blend in. At the same time, I had these two worlds that I wanted to fit into, the culture I was coming from and the one I was settling into. So I struggled with the thought that I was not being authentic because my sense of identity became dependent on who I was with at the time.

It is my belief that our struggle with identity happens when we have an “others focus” instead of a “God focus”. We tend only to see the negative parts of our identity or the parts we don’t like, and we let that define our entire sense of self. We fail to see that our value and who we are is determined by the one who created us, GOD. We are priceless because we were formed by the greatest artist of all. Psalm 139:14 describes us as wonderfully complex, God’s workmanship which is marvellous (an NLT paraphrase). God created us so intricately, with many unique parts – Jeremiah 1:5 says He formed us in our mother’s womb, set apart to fulfill God’s purpose. On this journey, we need to embrace all of who we are and in that moment, recognize that we are always evolving. We need to welcome the Holy Spirit, who at various time convicts us to change, grow and adapt . God loves us just the way we are, but His love for us is too great to leave us where we are at.

-Tomison Olaniyi

Proven Provider

On a Sunday morning, I stand at the front and deem God Provider. Just as soon as the words jump out of my mouth one man’s story confronts my assertion.

He stands after and waits to speak. Suffering. He and his family have suffered. Listening is almost more than I can bear. He is angry with God and cannot believe that I call him Provider. I don’t blame him.

There are no easy answers for human suffering. God is good. And there is suffering. Both are true.

There is much we do not understand – there is life after death that mankind has guessed and dreamed and wondered about since the beginning of time – but we all know there is more…. Something inside says the soul lives on…

Josh McDowell asserts, Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, is a liar, lunatic or Savior. There are no other options. So … Who is He?

Who Is this Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God? Did he really rise?

The disciples had no reason or method to steal the body or move the massive rock. No one would have chosen to cook up a story claiming that women made the ultimate empty-tomb discovery. At the time – an empty tomb found by men would have been a whole lot more credible. And can we remember the wild enthusiasm of the disciples after they saw Christ resurrected … the passion that sent them throughout the entire world to tell the truth to the world? Yes, the soul lives on, and the greatest questions ever posed have finally been answered by nail scarred hands and a wounded side. The disciples became love-sick martyrs because they had seen Him with their own eyes. And seeing the resurrection of Christ changes everything. He is the proven Provider.

It changes everything.

Suffering exists. But if the resurrection is true: Then suffering wasn’t intended in the beginning. Then humans chose to let it in. Then God hates injustice with more fierceness imaginable. Then God’s love was so emphatic for people He commissioned His Son … His Son… to go and make a path for restoration. To take it all. Every sin. Every sickness. Every suffering. In that moment light seared darkness and death lost. Then suffering is not the end of the story.

Suffering is not the end of the story… We can’t comprehend the hope of Heaven – it is too great. However, God says His presence is enough for us to live this day with faith. We can confidently believe that what happened on the cross was sufficient for us and will connect us to Him today, in the midst of a sin-stained-beauty-mixed-world with the assurance that one day, we will see all things restored. Then we will see on full and marked display … that the resurrection changes everything and He really is Proven Provider.