The Aching of This Life

By: Agnes Fulgencio

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son”. Hebrews 12:5,6 (NIV)

Image

“What if Trials of this Life are God’s Mercies in Disguise?” I have been hearing this line from a song. I tried singing the entire song, too. And I am amazed by how Laura Story could render such a heart-warming, encouraging, emotion-provoking song. In an interview, Story explains, “Blessings are just a bunch of songs about worshipping when life is hard.” When her husband Martin Elvington was diagnosed with brain tumor, she wondered, “Why didn’t you just fix it, God? You’re all powerful and all loving… just fix it.”

There was a time when I found myself asking the same question Laura Story had.

Why do we need to go through a lot of hardships, struggles, temptations, and such? Why can’t God just fix it up for us? I remember how many buckets of tears I shed because of life’s trials: stories of friends’ betrayals, broken dreams, guilt-provoking Bible points, work in the mission field, and health troubles, just to name a few.

Those things made my pillow soaking wet, made me skip my meals, and gave me many pimples and big eye bags. Then I started asking, “Are those things really NECESSARY in our lives?”

Just like the Israel of old. They also have asked, “If God is leading us, why do all these things come upon us?” (Essentials for Healthfull Living EGW p107)

I found the answer here in Korea through the writings of Mrs. Ellen G. White.

“Trials and obstacles are the Lord’s chosen methods of DISCIPLINE and His appointed conditions of success.” (Essentials for Healthfull Living EGW p107)

I remember the story of Joseph, Daniel, Job and a lot more. They were ever faithful and loyal to God. But God didn’t prevent them from experiencing painful trials in their lives. Daniel was held captive. Later on, was tested and thrown into the lion’s den. Joseph was sold as a slave–by his very own brothers. He was accused and put to prison for many years of a sin he never committed. Job lost everything that he had. But these things have only preserved their faith and loyalty to God. Discipline is a necessity, I can now conclude.

Hebrews 12:5 and 6 says (NIV), “…..My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son”.

God loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to be walking away from His fold. In verse 11 of the same text, it says “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”

“What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is a revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?” The song shows that we still have more questions than answers, Laura Story confesses. Every time we face trials and “aching of this life,” God wants us to decide to fully trust in Him.

Heb 13:8 (NIV) mentions, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”. If God helped, provided, and guided those people before, He will also do the same for us. He just wants us to be strong and hold fast to Him.

EGW said in Essentials for Healthful Living 108, “The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop…if He saw in us nothing whereby He might glorify His name, He would not spend time in refining us. He does not cast worthless stones into His furnace. It is valuable ore that He refines.” Trials will test our faith in the Lord, and when our faith levels have been exhaustively tested, this will then help improve our character. In other words, we can become better and holy people in the Lord if we allow fiery tests to shape, mold, and transform us.

In James 1: 2-4 (NIV) says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. (3) Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4)Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be MATURE and COMPLETE, not LACKING ANYTHING.”

“In the future life the mysteries that have here annoyed and disappointed us will be made plain. We shall see that our seemingly unanswered prayers and disappointed hopes have been among our greatest blessings”.

Advertisements

5000 Won Worth of TRUST

By: Lyndy Famisaran

Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.” Lamentaions 3:32 (NIV)

Image

My mind was bothered as to how we were going to survive for more than two weeks after our food allowance was lost. Every month, I and my partner share for the food allowance for the whole month, and we always put it in a small piggy bank. Last June my new partner came and we decided to do the same thing. During our first week, we spent 20 thousand won so we still had about 80 thousand won left. After a week, when I opened our piggy bank to get some money, I was surprised that our money wasn’t there anymore. I paused for a second and thought, “Is this for real?” My partner was just as surprised as I was when I told her what happened. It was our first time to lose money. I kept on thinking why. Nevertheless, I had to accept the reality. I talked to God about it and remembered the text written by prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:32.

Claiming that promise, I and my partner decided not to buy food anymore. Instead, we entrusted everything to God and believed that he would never leave us nor forsake us. Lo and behold, it was almost the end of June but there was still food inside our refrigerator! And during the first week of July my partner asked me again if we were going to share some money for the food. I told her that we would just ask God for the food and let Him provide everything except for the dozen eggs and 1 pack of fish cake that cost 5000 won. I talked to God again and said, “ Heavenly Father, please make this food enough for 2 weeks because we don’t have money anymore.” And believe it or not, we didn’t buy any food for 2 weeks because some of the church members and our Samonim provided for us. Three weeks after, I noticed that there were still 4 eggs left and some fish cake. I really could not fathom my feelings during that time. I wanted to cry, shout and share to the world His everlasting goodness and faithfulness to his children. I talked to God again and asked His forgiveness for not trusting Him fully and for worrying about everything as if He wasn’t there. Now, I learned my lesson. He taught me the true meaning of trust.

There is no other love like His! God can do greater things more than what we can imagine. We just lack faith. John 16:24 says, “Ask and you will receive so that your happiness may be complete.” There is no limit when it comes to God’s amazing grace! We just need to trust Him with all our hearts and minds. In addition, John 16:23 says, “ The Father will give you whatever you will ask in His name.” So, let us surrender everything to Him. Let us trust Him!

“I love You, Teacher”

By: Riel Panganiban

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)

Image

“Teacher I love you”! I love you too! I love you three! I love you fourever!”

I thank God for my mission field (Sahmyook Vocational Institute of Technology) which I believe is the best mission field. But of course ‘best’ and ‘easy’ are two different words. Hardships and trials are inevitable.

Sahmyook Gisuron (Sahmyook Vocational Institute of Technology) is an SDA institute where students, mostly high school 17 to 20-years-olds learn skills like welding, interior design, painting, electronics, and basic computer programming. They can take license exams and become licensed skilled workers before going to university.

At school, students have regular classes time and work time. At night they have to study by themselves and do their homework at least until 11 pm. And my job is to teach them English for 40 minutes a day which they call rest time. Sometimes I get angry because they don’t participate in class activities and some of them even sleep during my class. Needless to say, most of them don’t like English.

As a missionary, it is clear to me that my mission is not only to teach them English but also to help them mold their character. But it is just as clear to me how challenging it is especially if you are dealing with teens who are raced in the city. They have a great inclination to worldly things; they have so little interest in the Bible and have very hot temper.

At first I’d always get angry with them and I felt hopeless. Then God reminded me of something and made me realize that I forgot something. I forgot the most powerful and most important thing: LOVE. I felt so guilty being a missionary trying to work and to teach as if I am worthy of doing it. I forgot how patient God is in dealing with me being a sinner. What if God were like me? I felt so ashamed. I asked God to forgive me from what I did. I asked Him to give me more patient for my student as He is patient with me, and Love for my student as He loves me. God answered my prayers. Slowly and slowly I saw how beautiful and how precious these souls are; how privileged I am to be a part of their lives; and how God trusted me to touch their hearts.

Now Instead of focusing in English, I focus on sharing God’s love with them. Instead of being an English teacher, I focus on being a friend to them. I play with them; laugh with them; eat with them; and pray with them. And now that we are already friends I can easily share with them how great, amazing and awesome to experience God’s love.

One day one of my students called me and said, “Teacher I love you.” Although it sounded like a joke, I appreciated it and answered him “I love you too.” Then he responded “I love you three.” I laughed and said, “I love you four.” And we continued until the last number he knew in English. The next time, I have observed that other students were doing it also. It’s a good thing, but every time we do it, I get stuck in saying I love you too, four, six, eight, ten and so on. Then I thought of something that could change the game. Whenever they’d say “Teacher, I love you,” I’d answer “I love you too.”And after they’d say “I love you three,” I’d answer, “I love you fourever. And there it would stop. The good thing is that it became a trend in the dormitory and even at school.

One day, while I was in my room, I heard some of my students calling another student saying, “Hey! I love you.” And the other one answered, “I love you too.””I love you three,” said the other and the other one said, “I love you fourever.” Hearing it was a great experience, giving me an awesome feeling. The dormitory and school ring with this love expression blowing my stress away. God let me experience the power of His love. He let me see my students as He sees me. And that’s looking through the eyes of Love. Before, I tried hard to be a good example to my students that they would see me as a good missionary. But now I pray that the things they will remember of me would lead them to become more like Jesus, not like me.

I‘ve learned that sometimes we treat people based on their character and personality. But this should not be. God first loved us with unconditional love. In spite of our sins, He loves us and is very patient with us.

My prayer is that God will continue to help us see people as He sees them, giving us the heart that will look at other people through the eyes of love.

When God Employs His Angels

By: Janet Balagot

Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20

Image

“Is everybody all right?” I asked them after a startling lightning struck the house where we were staying.

May, 2012, we were conducting a Vacation Bible School in my mission field in the Philippines when an unforgettable incident happened.

I called the youth to help me prepare for the crowns, certificates, ribbons and decoration for the VBS Graduation. The youth, with my Korean partner Pyun Ji Yeong, put our effort together to make the program remarkable and memorable for the kids who joined and learned about Jesus and their parents who allowed them to come for 10 days.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon when the youth arrived in our house. The house was made of wood with a concrete floor. Connected to the house was a spacious veranda supported by three wooden posts. We were all in the veranda. I put all the necessary materials on a long table. We sat around the table and started to make the necessary stuff for the event. We were all 8. I was sitting at the side of the table between two young ladies and behind me was a wood post. We were having fun preparing and talking.

At 3:00 p.m., clouds filled the sky and heavy rain started to pour. I didn’t know why, but I had a strange feeling as if something was pushing me to stand up and telling me to move from where I was sitting. Why should I? I felt comfortable sitting there because I could see them all and the materials were very accessible to my reach. However, I heeded my premonition and stood up and moved to the corner of the table. The moment I sat down, a flash of a very bright light appeared in front of me. We screamed. Then a burnt smell permeated the house. We looked at each other. “Is everybody alright?” I asked. I checked each one and the two young ladies who were sitting beside me before I moved to the corner said that they felt an electric current through their feet. We were all trembling with fear. A trace of lightning was found under the table. It passed between the two young ladies to the wood post. That was exactly the spot where I was sitting.

I was shocked and I couldn’t help myself to shed a tear and whispered “O, thank you God.” After that circumstance, I understood why. I can’t imagine how I would be if I ignored that strange feeling. God sent an angel to tell me that I was in danger. An angel pushed me to move away from where I was sitting. As He promised in Psalm 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (NIV).

God employs his angels to watch over us every time. I am also thankful that the two ladies were not seriously hurt and they were fine after a few minutes. After that stunning incident, we offered a prayer thanking God for His protection. I will never forget that experience because it was one of the times that I really felt an angel spreading its wings to save me from danger.

With the grace of God we were able to finish our Vacation Bible School successfully with almost 100 kids. I praise God because He intervened in unexpected situations.

 

 

Home

by: Melvin Baclay

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:20-21

Image

When I scroll down through my timeline, all the way down to the cold morning of April 8, 2007, I can see that the road I’ve taken wasn’t at all smooth nor was it straight. Like many others, I’ve also gotten into humps and bumps and rough roads. There were times when the road got cold, snowy and slippery. Thus, I fell and failed, but praise the Lord for lifting me up again and again. Was there a time when I wanted to stop and go back home? Yes, many times in fact.

It is not uncommon for most of us that when Seasonal Affective Disorder strikes, our anxiety level heightens and everywhere we look spells sadness–then our hearts shout for home. When faced with adversities and trials, we desire to be home to feel the comforting touch of our loved ones. When people and circumstances conspire to make us feel useless, stupid, unwanted, used, mistreated or disrespected, all we could wish for is to have a superpower to teleport and be home in an instant. For we know that home offers love, emotional security, understanding and acceptance to heal our bruised spirit.

Looking at it through a wider lens, I can see that it is somewhat a reflection of a certain angle of our christian walk.

You see, we left the broader road we used to travel on and moved to a narrow one. And while it is narrow, it gets rough and bumpy and slippery at times. Time and again, we are faced with adversities and obstacles too challenging to surmount. Then we pant and gasp, and long for that paradise, the promised home that offers peace, joy and the much longed-for rest. We travel on, and along the way we get hurt by people or circumstances. Then again, we wish to be home–in heaven where the loving touch of our Savior heals all the pains and vanishes the scars; where love, only love is the language spoken by the redeemed souls.

We all want to be home, but it seems like we still have to wait–but not for long, for sure. While waiting, let’s get ourselves busy inviting others to travel the same road with us, narrow it may be, because in here there’s hope for a far better life ahead. Let’s tell others that although the road is narrow, there’s joy and peace in every step we take because the One who leads is the Way Himself.

I’m going home at last, after more than six years. Although there was no triumphal skipping in the room when my boss told me that my flight had already been booked, my heart was actually skipping in excitement to see some familiar faces; to see my nieces and nephew whom I haven’t seen yet; to visit places which were witnesses of some unforgotten memories; and to see the faces of those who were part of those memories.

Nevertheless, I am more excited with my flight to heaven. I’m thrilled to be lifted up smoothly, slowly, miraculously, passing by the clouds and the moon and stars. And it thrills me even more to think when I’ll finally get the view of that colossal kingdom shining in its full glory waiting for me and you. The sparkling pearly gates will be opened and the angels’ heavenly voices will be heard. Then the Son of God, our loving Savior will stand from His throne to welcome those whom He died for. And we’ll hear Him say, “Welcome home, my children.” And there will forever be rejoicing in the paradise because finally, we will be sharing with our wonderful Creator His perfect love and the life eternal.

No Complaints

By: Zia Myrrh Aquino

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV) 

Image

Have you ever read a Bible story and thought, “If I had been there, I wouldn’t have done that; I wouldn’t have eaten that fruit in the Garden of Eden; I wouldn’t have denounced Jesus three times; I wouldn’t have complained in the wilderness like the Israelites.” If we look at those stories, we can see that God dealt with each of the cases differently. In the case of the Israelites, God helped them out from being slaves in Egypt, yet, they complained a lot more than praising God. They thought more about what they wanted, and not what they needed. They thought about themselves more than giving thanks to God. The nation of Israel has a long history of grumbling and complaining. Even these days, grumbling and complaining is one thing we don’t get too concerned about. Everybody grumbles about something, even in little things. Husbands and wives complain about each other. Christians grumble about one another– even about their leaders. And this kind of attitude is being passed on to their children. And I often get the taste of it. Every Monday and Tuesday, I have to tell a Bible story before I start my lesson. And during these days, I can hear the same grumbling again and again. As I start telling my Bible story, a group of kids would shout in unison, “Teacher, 싫어요 (I hate it). But I just ignore them. A little later, I could hear another chorus saying, “Teacher, 알아요! 그만해요(Please stop. I already know that). To cheer myself up, I’d appreciate them for knowing the story and I’d ask them questions. Then another chorus would interrupt me and say, “Teacher 빨리빨리해요 (Hurry up, please).” I’d feel like bursting when I hear that but going on with the story is still a better option. As I continue with the story, I could see some children doing their own thing. Some are running while others are standing on the chairs and tables. Then a kid would raise his hand and ask, “Teacher, 언제 끝나요 (When will we finish?)” When I hear it, all I want to do is to stop, but I always choose the harder, yet the better option: I close my eyes, say a short prayer and smile. I would often ask myself why I had to tell Bible stories to children who didn’t want to hear them. I have even suggested to my Korean partner that I should stop telling Bible stories because the children wouldn’t listen anyway. But later on, I realized that God didn’t put me here because I can’t handle things but He put me here because He knew I can. And I’m so thankful to God for the gift of patience. God tests us. It’s a fact of life. How often do we do what God wants us to do? How often do we complain? If God gives us no rough roads to walk, no mountains to climb and no battles to fight, we will never grow. God stands beside us, teaches us and strengthens us as we face each new challenge.

As missionaries, we have to be strong, for every day we have challenges as our partner, temptations as our companion and trials as our best friend. But let us remember that everything that comes in our lives, if we face them with God, is not that bad after all. They are a way for us to remember and to thank God that He is great every time, any time, and all the time. We should spare no room for complaints.

I am Here to Serve!

By: Ivone Lamanilao

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Psalm 86:15 (KJV)

Image

The first time I saw and talked to her, I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t know why!

On my first few weeks of staying here in Korea as an English missionary teacher, I already heard a lot of negative feedbacks. Honestly, I wasn’t trained to teach and how to deal with the students. A month had passed and my supervisor began to complain. It seemed that everything I did was not right in her sight.

There were lots of complaints like; “Teacher, why your voice is so loud? It can trigger a headache for students who aren’t feeling well.” And sometimes she’d say, “Teacher, your voice is so weak. Could you make it louder so the students won’t feel bored?” She would also ask the children, “Jime upso?” (It’s not fun, right?) “Teacher, your test is so hard for the students!” Or, “Teacher, your test is very simple. You don’t need to review the students, just give the test papers right away.” And another weekly test came and she’d complain that I had to give a lesson review because how would the students understand better if I didn’t give a review. “Teacher, your weekly lessons have many mistakes. You know, we Korean teachers don’t like even one mistake. You forgot to put a period!”

I was fed up! With a loud voice, I told her, “Your instructions are very confusing! Everything I do isn’t right! I’m doing my best because this is my responsibility as a missionary teacher. However, I am so tired! You are so confusing!” Her face turned red and she walked out. The students were also noisy, that I couldn’t hold my anger anymore. I hit the table with the stick in my hand. It was broken into three pieces. After all this, there was silence!

I was sad that it happened. I felt sorry for my students and to my supervisor because of my behavior that day. With sincere prayers and forgiveness, God helped me see the reason why I’m here in Korea. I realized that I’m here to serve. As a missionary, I’m learning how to walk humbly and slow to anger. I know that God is faithful and loving enough to lead me each day.

Philippians 2:14-16, say, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”