Don’t Be Silenced

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Matthew 20:29-34

This morning my son and I read the story of the two blind men who were sitting by the side of the road when they heard that Jesus was passing by.  Can you imagine, Jesus passing through the town where you lived?  A crowd is flanking him.  These two men realized that the opportunity of a lifetime is here and they were going to take full advantage of it.  Who wouldn’t?  So, they cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David.”

The crowd warned them to be quiet.  Can you believe that?  These poor men were blind.  We don’t know for how long.  They weren’t born blind.  Could you imagine what it must have been like for them?  One day their world was plunged into darkness.  They couldn’t see the faces of their friends and families.  They couldn’t see the trees swaying gently in the breeze or the clear blue sky or the sunlight that warmed their faces.  How they must have longed to regain their sight.  Put yourselves in their shoes.  Imagine not seeingca the faces of your children or the beautiful flowers whose fragrance fills your nostrils.  Imagine losing your sight and living the rest of your life in darkness.  That would be the fate of these men, had Jesus not passed that way.

Being blind meant that these men couldn’t work.  They had to beg for bread now.  They were probably begging by the side of the road when they heard that Jesus was there.  They had heard about Him and what He had done for others.  They believed that He could help them too.  So they cried out to Him in faith.  And when the crowd tried to silence them, they cried out louder.  They refused to keep quiet.  How could they when the answer to their prayers was right there?  In stubborn faith and boldness, they cried out, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David”.

I love the following three words, Jesus stood still.  They had gotten His attention.  Actually, they had His full attention now. He called them to Him and they went.  How their hearts must have been pounding with excitement.  Jesus had heard them and was calling them over to Him.  Wow.

Jesus asked them kindly, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  They said the words that were burning in their hearts, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”  When Jesus looked at them, He was filled with compassion.  Here were two men standing in front of Him, anxiously waiting for Him to give them their sight.  They were trembling in anticipation of the miracle they knew that only He could perform.  And then they felt the touch.  They felt His fingers on their eyes and immediately they felt a difference.  When He removed His hands, they opened their eyes.  And the first thing they saw was Jesus’ face.  What a sight to behold!  Could you imagine seeing the Saviour’s wonderful face?  Tears of joy must have poured down their faces as they stared at His smiling face.  Joy filled their hearts and they gave their lives to Him that very instant.  They followed Him.

When God places an opportunity within your reach, grab it.  Don’t let others discourage you.  Ignore the naysayers, the doubters and step out in faith.  If you are hurting cry out to Jesus.  He will hear you, stop and call you to Him.  Don’t be silenced.  Cry out.

He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them – Psalm 145:19

In Need of Prayers

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge – Proverbs 14:26.

The earthquake in Nepal left more than rubble in its wake.  It left heartbreak, loss and uncertainty.

When I look at Drastaa’s weathered face, I see unimaginable pain and devastation.  I see someone who has suffered a crippling loss.  She lost her only grand-daughter.  The girl was only 16 years old.  She had gone in to the forest to gather firewood when the earthquake struck, killing her.  That day when Drastaa woke up, little did she know that her world would be turned upside down and that she would be facing the future alone.

Her life is like a heap of rubble.  She has no idea how she was going to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life.  The odds are stacked against her.  She’s elderly.  She’s a widow.  She can’t work to support herself.  Life for widows in Nepal is hard and they are victims of discrimination, isolation and rejection.  In addition to the stigma that is attached to widowhood, she had to worry about the spreading of diseases because of the unsanitary conditions and the monsoon season which is typically lasts from mid-June to mid-September.  A monsoon can seriously hamper relief and recovery efforts.

“As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).  Pray that Drastaa will receive this comfort and the help she needs to get back on her feet.  Ask God to reveal Himself to her, letting her know that she is not suffering alone.

Nepal Earthquake Survivor Photo

Leave your fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; And let your widows trust in Me – Jeremiah 49:11.

Nepal Earthquake Survivor Photo

When the earth started shaking, Tarana’s husband rushed inside their home to look for their children, unaware that they were safe outside. The house collapsed on him, and Tarana is now widowed, caring for five children on her own – Gospel for Asia

When I read about what happened to Tarana’s husband, it brought tears to my eyes.  I was touched by this family’s tragedy.  In a matter of minutes, Tarana’s had lost her husband–she was a widow and her five children had lost their father.   He had gone into their home, risking his life the save them.

What is going to happen to Tarana and her children?  They are homeless.  Their house was reduced to rubble.  Where could they go?  Who would help them?  How is she going to rebuild their lives?

I encourage you to pray for Tarana and her children.  Pray for their protection against disease and danger.  I read that in the wake of the earthquakes, the UNICEF is working with the Nepalese government to stop child trafficking as the organization feared that there was a surge in the number of cases.  According to Tomoo Hozumi, a UNICEF representative in Nepal, “Loss of livelihoods and worsening living conditions may allow traffickers to easily convince parents to give their children up for what they are made to believe will be a better life.”  The traffickers promise education, meals and a better future but in reality, many of these children end up being “horrendously exploited and abused.”

As a widow with no source of income and raising five children, it is possible that Tarana could be approached by traffickers, promising her a better future for her children.  Pray that God will watch over them.  He is now the Father of these children and He will guard them.  “…He will save the children of the needy” (Psalm 72:4).

Drastaa, Tarana and all of the other survivors need our prayers.   Gospel for Asia offers these suggestions for prayer requests:

  • Comfort and hope for those grieving
  • Protection from disease and danger
  • God’s provision and sustenance for relief teams
  • Many to understand Jesus’ love

I applaud the work that GFA Compassion Services teams have been doing.  They “have touched many lives through relief events during the past several weeks. They’ve focused on reaching remote, hard-to-reach villages where many lost homes, possessions, and sometimes loved ones.”

If you feel impressed to reach out to these survivors and you want to find more information on GFA’s relief work in Nepal, please visit http://gfa.org/earthquake/nepal.

Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place – 2 Chronicles 6:40.

Sources:  Global News; The Weather Network; United Nations News; Gospel for Asia

Plead for the Widows

They still hope when they die, that their son probably will come and light their pyre.  A son who breaks your legs, a son who hits you so hard that your skull breaks, a son who is willing to put cow dung in your mouth – and yet you want the same son to come and light your pyre. We need to break that mind-set also, somewhere – Winnie Singh, social activist

I was searching the Internet to see what I could find out about the quality of life for widows in India and was shocked.  After losing their husbands, they are faced with a life of begging and destitution.  Some of them are thrown out by family members.  One widow was beaten by the sons she had raised when she asked them for money.  In-laws refuse to help some widows while others can’t go back home because their parents are too poor to take them back.

Widows face discrimination and are dehumanized.  They are called “it” and in some instances, they are referred to as “randi” which means prostitute in Punjabi.  Some of them marry their brothers-in-law because being man’s property protects them from being raped.

A widow is blamed for her husband’s death.  “You are widowed because you did something wrong in your previous life: that is the view in this predominantly Hindu culture,” explains Dr. Leelavathi Manasseh of the Bible Society. “So, whether a widow is from a rich or poor background, she faces blame, mistreatment and rejection by her family. Many are kicked out of their homes and left to fend for themselves and their children, leaving them in a desperate situation.”  It’s worse when a woman loses her husband to AIDS and she tests positive for HIV.  She is met with even more rejection and ridicule.

In Northern India, there is a place called, “Widow City.”  It is the holy city of Vrindavan.  Widows go there because they believe that if you die there, you would be freed from the cycle of birth and death and obtain moksha (emancipation). It is a place where these women can get away from a life of isolation and the society where they have no place or value.  They are there because they were cast out families who don’t want to pay for them or by in-laws who don’t want them to inherit money or property.  They are ostracised by their villages.  They have lost their income.  They are at the bottom rungs of society and are prevented from remarrying.  In Vrindavan, they pray at the temples and beg. Other widows go there, as pilgrims, intending to dedicate their remaining years to serving the deities Krishna and Radha.

Life for a widow is hard.  When their husbands were alive, they were protected but once they were gone, these poor women felt like orphans because they had no one to take care of them or help them.  They were all alone.  Perhaps this is why in the Bible, orphans and widows were always paired together because they were defenceless, society’s vulnerable.  God wants us to plead for the widows.  Defend their rights to a future filled with hope and dignity.  God made it clear that He is “Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans” (Malachi 3:5).

While society sees widows as a curse, God sees broken, abused, mistreated and unloved women whom He wants to enter into a loving relationship with.  Their families don’t want them, but God wants them to be a part of His family.

Like so many widows, Netramani was cast out and left to fend for herself.  “I was completely alone. … No one would give me work so I had to beg. … I had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. I was completely senseless and didn’t know anything. . .”

Watch Netramani’s heart-wrenching story and imagine either you or someone you know lying there, sick and helpless and no one stops to help.

…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ – Matthew 25:35-40.  

June 23 is International Widows’ Day, a day when we step into the lives of widows and imagine the desperate places where they find themselves.  Some commit suicide rather than face the shame.  Others turn to prostitution.  Mothers resort to rummaging through the trash in order to feed themselves and their children.  These women don’t deserve to be like this.  You can change this. Through your donations you will make it possible for local pastors to help widows in need, buy them sewing machines, farm animals, or much-needed supplies like winter blankets, water filters and other essentials.  And with your generous gift, these women will have the opportunity to learn about Jesus and His love and compassion for them. To find out more about how you can help, visit http://www.gfa.org/women/widows/

As Christians, we need to demonstrate the love of Christ who reached out to those who were hurting, oppressed and ostracised.  He loved the unloved and valued those whom society deemed worthless. Together let us plead for the widows.  Let us take up their cause.   They have the right to keep their homes, their income and their dignity.  Let us contend with those who mistreat them.  Let us speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.  When we do good to others, we honour God.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widowsIs God in His holy habitation – Psalm 68:5.

Sources:  Gospel for AsiaTime.com; Women Under Seige; The Laws of Manu; BBC.com; Cross Map; India: Widow City; BBC News

Wife Despises Husband

michal2I was reading the account of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem and how this time the ark was carried the correct way by the Levites who had to sanctify themselves first.

It was a momentous occasion, the ark coming into the city of David.  The king was beside himself with joy.  While he was leading the procession, his wife Michal looked out of the window and saw him.  When she saw him leaping and whirling before the Lord, she was filled with contempt.  She despised him in her heart.  Why?

Unaware of the negative feelings he had stirred in his wife, David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord and when he was done, he blessed the people in Lord’s name. Then he distributed a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins to all of the people who happily departed to their homes.  Everyone was in a celebratory mood except Michal.

When David returned to bless his household, she came out to meet him.  I can just imagine the expression on her face. There was no warm welcome.  No embrace.  No hello kiss. Nothing except contempt.  Instead of a word of greeting, she weighed in on him, her voice dripping with sarcasm and distaste, ““How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”  She was not only objecting to his dancing but to his dress.  He had set aside his royal robes and was a linen ephod.  Her remark implies that he was indecently dressed but according to 1 Chronicles 15:27, in addition to wearing the ephod, David was clothed in a fine linen robe like the Levites who carried the ark.  He was dressed for a very special occasion. 

In his defense, David’s responded, It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord.  And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.”

It’s safe to say that this marriage fell apart after this.  How could David respond to a wife who despised him for dancing before the Lord?  Perhaps David would have appreciated a wife like that of Phinehas, the son of the High priest Eli. She was devastated when her husband and his brother took the Ark and it was captured by the Philistines.  She declared in her distress, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”  She would have rejoiced when David returned with the ark.  The return of the ark seemed to be the last thing on Michal’s mind.

We learn that Michal never had children.  This probably means that David never had marital relations with her again.  She died a bitter and barren woman.

Do you think Michal had a legitimate reason for the way she felt towards David?  Was the way he was dressed the real reason for her resentment or was there something else?

Michal had once been deeply in love with David and had saved his life by helping him to escape from her father, Saul.  While David was in exile, Saul gave Michal in marriage to another man.  During those years of separation from David, Michal heard of his other wives and their children.  How she must have felt.  After years of waiting for him to come back and claim her, her hopes were dashed until her love for him began to turn to bitterness.

There is no indication that David loved Michal.  We only read that, “Michal Saul’s daughter loved him” (1 Samuel 18:20, 28).  It pleased David to be Saul’s son-in-law (verse 26) as opposed to be pleased that Michal was to be his wife.  And after Saul’s death, David went to claim her as his wife not because he loved her but because, “I was betrothed for one hundred Philistine foreskins.”  He still wanted to be the former king’s son-in-law and it didn’t matter that Michal was now married to Paltiel who loved her.  When she was taken from him, he went with her, weeping as he went, as far as Bahurim and then he was told to turn back.  Did Michael resent David for coming back into her life after so much time had passed and abusing his power as king to break up her marriage?  What about all those other wives he had?  What did he need with her now when he hadn’t bothered to come back for her when she desperately wanted him to?

Should David have tried to understand how Michal was feeling?  Should he have been more patient and sensitive?  After all she had been his first wife and now she was one of many.  I can sympathize with Michal.  When she rebuked him, what should David have done?  Should he have responded in anger?  Should he have said what he said?  What if he had said, “I was dancing before the Lord who has been gracious to me by appointing me rule over His people.”  He didn’t have to remind her that God had chosen him instead of her father.  He could have left out the part about being undignified and that he would rather have the female servants’ admiration than her respect.  What if he had said, “I’m sorry you thought I was acting shamelessly but I was dancing before the Lord with gladness because the ark of the Lord is with us.”  Perhaps this gentle response might have made a difference.  Perhaps not. 

Has your husband done something that rubbed you the wrong way?  Did it change the way you related to him or thought of him?  Did it make you lose your respect for him?  Did you ask yourself if you had good reasons for feeling this way?  If the answer is no, then let it go.  Remember the things about him that made you fall in love with him in the first place.  Ask God to help you to let go of the resentment and bitterness and all of the emotions that are preventing you from loving your husband.  If the answer is yes, then ask God to help you to work through this and to give your husband the support he needs.  He doesn’t need your condemnation.  He needs your love and forgiveness.  Give him time.  Give your marriage a chance to heal.

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