Preseverence

Most of us who have been in the race long enough know that we have only just begun the race itself. It’s funny how that works out, isn’t it? It’s like going to the gym to work out: No matter how long you have been at it, you are just not at the peak. You realize that you can go further, you can get stronger, faster, bigger (muscle-wise).

Then, when we least realize it, we get side-tracked, injured.

Our relationship with God is like that. It’s exhilarating at first, and why shouldn’t it be? We have the promise of eternal forgiveness and a fresh start. We feel different. We act different. The change in us is definitely something to be aware of. To borrow a line from a well known song “Even our old friends treat us like something new.”

But sooner or later, we start to slow down in the race. We realize we are dragging the line. Somewhere along the line we picked up a knapsack and filled it with so much junk, and it’s weighing us down.

Going to the gym is no longer what it was at first. We start to lose the enthusiasm when we realize we are no longer growing, getting stronger, leaner. Soon, we are crawling. It may even lead to a point were we give up going  We become stagnate.

Hey it happens! It’s hard to keep going when you don’t see (in most cases even feel the results) of all your hard work. But that’s the beauty of God. He will wait for you patiently. But if you keep procrastinating and lagging, He will drill sergeant you until you get fired up again, and once you get that fire under your butt, you start reaping the fruits of your effort. Ok, so maybe it’s not bigger muscles and a tight little butt, but if nothing else, the sheer determination you have to do it better the second (or third, fourth, etc.) time around.

The point is, that we are bound by our love to and for God, to never give up the race. We may slow down, we may even crawl, but we see the finish line ahead, and we finish the race – until next time!

The Rose

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A noble man. It’s such a gift. A rare one given the current times. What a sad thought that it was a noble man that people often looked up to. The noble man used to be a beacon. He was hope given form, yet still only a man. Integrity was a part of his life. It defined him. The noble man walked in truth, and did not swerve from it. For he knew that in that truth, there was great promise. He knew that if one man stood against the darkness of the night, then he could be that beacon so that anyone, and everyone, else could also.

In his strong, gentle hands the man held a rose. On top, the rose had soft, delicate petals, yet right underneath those petals there were sharp cutting, penetrating thorns. And even with a mix of the two, the man’s aura burned bright.

The man was never forgotten by the people he would cross paths with. Yes, the people remembered him, because in his wake, hope did spread.

But the man had a few secret fears. He feared that the nobility and the hope deep inside him would not take root in other people’s lives, he feared that the people would have no hope at all, or if they had hope, that it would be snuffed out, especially with all the chaos that he saw everywhere he turned to look. This made him extremely sad. He had been a strong hero for so long, but pride has found it’s door into his being, leading him down a road called sorrow.

Yes, he was walking in the valley of shadows, and within those shadows he heard whispers of a dark calling. The temptations that were beckoning to him offered glories…enough to make even the brightest shining light wander and dim. Inside, the man knew he was fading fast, yet he still yearned for what was right.

On his last day he sat and watched the sun fall. His final thoughts, pure of mind, if not body, held to a fleeting hope – though they would suffer for the man he would become, the people would remember him as he had been.

And so the noble man hid himself beneath a white cloud, even a shield which no flesh could touch, and gave up his carnal self to claim a new birthright. Whether this was choice, or destiny, is a truth known only to fate.

In that cool evening air, as dusk was devoured by night, the noble man ceased to exist. In his place another stood.

Same meat. Same bone. But so very different.

The first and only of his family. The sole forbearer and perhaps the last descendent of his time

In his first moments as a new being, he looked down at the rose that was still in his hands and realized for the first time that it held no petals: only the jagged purpose of angry thorns digging deep into his hands, drawing blood, yet at the same time strengthening him in an uncommon way.

We are Christians, but that doesn’t always mean we are always strong. We fall, but we always seem to rise again. Yes, it may take time, but time is not ours…it’s always God’s!
He knows how long it takes to purify each one of us. Yet when he pulls us out of the fire, we will be a perfect reflection of who God is! For many of us, our time is here, and the moment is ours.

Together in Christ, we shall rise!

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“DON’T JUDGE ME!!!”

How many times have you heard it?
Other variations…

“It’s not for us to judge!”
“Jesus said judge not!”
“You’re SOOO judgmental!”
“What people do behind closed doors is none of my business!”
“Grace covers all my sins – past, present and future!”
“Jesus sees me as perfect, so don’t condemn me!”

Well guess what?

All the above contradicts of what Scripture *actually* teaches.

But it is my personal observation that the people screaming “judge not!” really don’t know the Bible anyway.

“Judgment” has an ominous, sinister tone because the spiritually immature have made it sound like a cuss word.

Yet, judgment is absolutely essential – even desirable! – if we ever hope to see a world where evil is destroyed and goodness reigns.

Here’s the problem…

We live in a world system that reeks of tolerance and acceptance of every alternative lifestyle and preference.

If you don’t accept something, you get bullied into submission.

And, since the church system basically mirrors the world system, carnal Christians take on the same “anything goes” mentality – they just cover it up with some “don’t judge” whitewash that makes them look and sound oh-so-spiritual and loving and accepting and tolerant.

To all the “judge not” pseudo-believers, the Bible becomes a pesky little document that doesn’t really apply to them today.

I mean, what do you do with Noah and the Flood if you don’t believe in judgment?

How do you explain Sodom and Gomorrah?

The curses Israel suffered for disobeying the Law?

All the prophets who warned of God’s judgment on disobedient nations?

“That’s all Old Testament!”

O.K.

What about how Jesus hammered the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23 when He called them blind fools and snakes who would not escape the damnation of hell?

Oh, and what about the Early Church?

Ever hear of Ananias and Sapphira? Look what happened when they lied to the Holy Ghost.

How about the “brother” in Corinth who had to be turned over to satan?

Ever read where it says, “Judge yourself so you won’t be judged?”

Or, “The spiritual man judges all things?”

And the Book of Revelation? We’ll have to get rid of it because it’s 99% wrath and judgment.

Here’s the thing.

God is merciful and forgiving but that’s not ALL He is.

God is also holy and righteous.

God executes righteous judgment, and calls upon us to do the same.

Instead of sticking our heads in the sand, instead of adopting the “don’t judge me” mindset of the world, let’s go to Scripture and see what God says about it!

Beyoncé and the Bible…

Usually I don’t like to really offer my thoughts on music. This is perhaps because I love the art form. I realize how hard it must be from putting together a stage show…at least from a simple rock show point of view (Think old time Elvis, or maybe the Beach Boys, or even some of your local lounge acts, or even Megachurch worship).

Admittedly at a very young age I was blown away by Gene Simmon’s Kiss. Now those guys with the leather, face paint, and fire breathing, fireworks show know how to put on a show. I still am a big fan of their music and showmanship.
KissI realize they have some rebellious lyrics, maybe some self-centered ones as well. Anyone who has caught long tongued Gene Simmons on the news/media knows how outspoken he is…and he makes no apologies about it.

Simmons is reportedly an Israeli Jew. Whether he cherishes his religion I do not know. Most people keep their faith strong, but silent. Sometimes it’s better that way I guess. You have faith in God, but you know you are a hypocrite as well….so…..

There was a time when I listened to one of their lyrics, and it caused me to really listen. What I heard wasn’t good, but it also wasn’t far from the truth. Let’s just say at that time, I was turned off by rock and roll in general. I started listening to Christian music (More Donna Summers…if you can imagine)…

What want to get to is the fact that as bad as the music was…the music that follows this band today is way more perverse. We have the ill-fated Rap music that berates women and glorifies guns and drugs and violence in general. We now have music that glorifies either satan, or the performer themselves.

People seem, in general, to soak up the performances. Remember back in the 60s when John Lennon stated that “the Beatles are more popular than Jesus!” Everyone turned right around and started burning all the Beatles records.

Well now it looks like Beyonce has turned right around and made her own statement…
She says in her lyrics she rolled up Bible pages to soak up her menstruation.
Now as a Christian, I am offended…but I’ve come to expect that kind of attitude from someone as desperate for attention as she appears to be. Perhaps she wants to cast some shock value to her audience, or the world. But of course I don’t know Beyoncé on a personal level.

Her followers seem to be mesmerized. The Christians, are again…silent. See my last post. But it’s not unusual really. Somehow you can’t really say anything against something that you don’t follow. I don’t follow the political scene..I see it as a real charade that I want nothing to do with.

However, here’s my dilemma as sort…I don’t follow satan either. Not a fan…but evil makes it’s presence well known…so I have no excuse as a Christian but to “expose sin.”

Yes, someone using the pages of the Bible as a tampon infuriate me. But it’s their soul. They can mock God all they want…they can take it to the next level, as Beyoncé did. But although the modern day Christian is admittedly shocked and angered by these acts, God knew this was coming.

I wonder what is the Christian response to the overall evil in the world today? We can warn one another out of brotherly love, we can avoid, even boycott some of these acts. But we will never truly get away from all of it. Or we can lift our voices to the Lord and ask “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Back in the Old Testament, such vile acts were dealt with quickly and rather harshly, but with the Lord’s righteousness. Even Ananias and Sapphira were quickly dealt with when they lied to and basically blasphemed the Holy Spirit

Lion’s Roar, Lion’s Pride, Roman Candles

I’ve seen a lot of things in the past 50 years of my life.

I can sort of remember my first exposure to pornography..my dad attempting to cover my eyes at the rather brief nude scene in Saturday Night Fever (when it was shown at the theaters).

Then there were the magazines. Then the time I turned 21 and boldly walked into an adult bookstore…and many other times and situations.

Of course, these were just self-observations from the whacked out sex drive of puberty/young age.

Thankfully I’ve moved on and tried my best to avoid these old temptations. But unfortunately when it comes to Pornography, a glimpse is all it took. One rather bad adult film…I think it was on HBO before cable…or maybe a video tape…I can’t recall…anyways unfortunately that image is still burned into my brain, and it’s been there over 35 years now.

All men have been there. All Christian, godly men have (hopefully) been convicted by their past association of lust, porn, nakedness…at the moment I just can’t recall everything. But you know what I’m talking about. It’s like your first time in the candy store, and you’ve got the cash to indulge….

Both Adam and Eve took one bite of the apple…and that was that.

I’m not proud of what I experienced, what I went through. As I’ve said, the images are burned into my mind. If I am not careful, and let my guard down, the images tend to overtake me.

Thankfully, that hasn’t been too much of an issue. While I still retain the images, they don’t have the effect on me that they used to. Call it a miracle…maybe even being older, and no longer seeking or desiring these things…

But as I look upon the world today, my spirit grieves for the young ones.  Since the Lord has apparently delayed His return, the wickedness has only grown stronger. Not just the pornography…but everyone doing what they please: pleasing themselves, and not thinking about the consequences.

People transforming themselves into someone they are not. Michael is now Michelle, and the Snakeman now has his forked tongue. Men chasing men –  women chasing women…and the bulls-eye is now on the public restrooms.

If we continue to “advance” at this rate, homosexuality will be the least of our concerns.

There is such a need today for the street corner ministries of the Spirit of John the Baptist. Yet the many so-called Christians are silent. The only ones that are screaming repentance seems to be the few Pastors behind the church walls that are walking the straight and narrow. If there are any evangelists out there, or rather the few that they are, they aren’t preaching the same style that John did. They seem bent on the friendship evangelism.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with friendship evangelism, many souls have been saved through it. But it wasn’t the friendship of a Christian that saved us in the first place, it was the love and directness of the Christian confronting our sins.

Sadly, it does seem like no one cares anymore. You can hardly spot a Christian in a crowded room anymore.

But sometimes, and these are definitely the times, you have to go hard. You have to stand up, and stand out.

Sin and apostasy is taking over the face of the land. It’s a cancer that is wide spreading, and unlikely to die. Doctors that should be aware of the situation are seemingly pocketing the money, and keep telling the patient that everything is going ok. All the while, the patient is dying, giving the doctor everything they have left all for those precious moments of the last days of their lives!

I keep reminding myself when Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras comes around that it CAN, and most likely WILL get a lot worse, but not that much worse. After all, God will wink at sin for a time. But time has a way of expiring. And after that, God’s wrath is coming…and if we are not lit up like a perpetual Roman Candle…chances are He won’t see us as children of the Most High!

Our world is slowly dying at an increasing rate, and the Christian, who shakes their heads at what they see are keeping silent.

The Lion of Judah will soon roar. And all people, and every living thing will shake in fear. The Lion’s Pride will answer His roar, but how many will there be? The young cubs need to find the strength in themselves to answer back, otherwise, the Lion, who will come in the night will not be able to tell who is who.

Will you be part of the Lion’s Pride, or will you be the Lion’s feast?

* I know I may be harsh in my approach on the Christian Living, Christian Evangelism. I’ve been warned that I am to harsh in my rebuke of the body of Christ concerning evangelism. But just look around at our world, and the master of the air, and consider that I am just a voice in the wilderness, crying out to make the Lord’s path straight!

Stranger In A Strange Land

The past couple of months have been a very weird time for me. I’ve sunk into what seems to be a dark hole spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, and even a bit physically. I’ve found out that depression can, and will cause, harm to your body. It started out with severe headaches and neck pains upon waking up in the morning. Doing a bit of research, I found out that the headaches were stress related, and that anti-depressants would help. So I started back on my Prozac. Or rather, I started taking the medication I should have been taking all along.

It’s helped quite a bit, but the side effect is a minor zombie state.

I’d like to say that prescribed medication helps out my problems. But as is well known, by now, my problems still exist. I still get headaches, I still get back pains, I still have my depression. This is a fact for anyone who believes that substance abuse is the answer to their problems. You can drink, get drunk, smoke and get high, but your problems, especially the problems of life, will always be right there…like a mirror staring you right back.

I deal with anxiety quite a bit in my life. Panic attacks and breathing problems are a norm for me. In my early battles years ago, the attacks would mostly consist of bursts of crying tears, shaking, and possibly the need for half a Xanax. But I am not the kind of person that relies on medication. I have a need to be awake and aware of what’s going on. The last, and only time, I was subjected to heavy medication in my youth, a certain doctor performed a necessary procedure on me, and to this day I have a fear of any doctor when they mention that area down there. Nope, you wanna go and do some digging down there you better knock me out and strap me down. I’m not saying they did a Caitlyn Jenner on me…but it was a close one…

When we abuse anything, it leads to dire consequences, and as I’ve learned in my rather young 50 years, we have gotten to the point where we can abuse just about anything at all. It can be drugs, alcohol, women, children, money, sex…the list is endless. We can even get to a point that as Christians, we can abuse anything that God has blessed us with.

What’s really sad is that when we abuse something, we will, at some point, hurt deeply the people around us. As a Christian, we can even abuse the Word of God to an extent. We can and should be straight and narrow, but always peppered with grace. But I do believe that as young Christians we always have a battle with self-righteousness. If left unchecked, that self-righteousness can lead to a damaging witness to others. It leads them not to trust us, and in the end, though our loved ones end up carrying the brunt of our burdens for us, eventually they will get to a point where they have no choice but to leave us.

After all, substance abuse…any kind of abuse at all…isn’t just about what’s going on in our own lives. When we abuse the bottle, the cigarettes, drugs etc.. that abuse directly hurts those around us. We become total strangers and vice-versa. This is why so many friendships fail, divorce happens, family fails and hate spurs. And it leads to a distrust and absolute hatred of the abuser. Or rather, we are lead to avoid any contact at all with the abuser.

I know that as Christians we should love all people, but we should never be put in a spot where we must live with abuse. Now saying this I honestly don’t have the resources myself to help out an abused person. Perhaps the church does, I don’t know. I know there are women shelters, and people who will help. But there doesn’t seem to be a network of people who offer help to the abused.

I know from the testimony of several former junkies that abuse can be overcome. I’ve seen the wonderful work of God in their lives. Getting an abuser to admit their abuse is not an easy experience, nor a pleasant one. Sometimes they, and their loved ones have to travel down a really dark place, and see and experience things they would rather not see or experience.

But we are soldiers for Christ. And we will be called to a bloody, spiritual, mental, and sometimes physical battle. The wounds will be deep, we will be cut, and we will bleed. And we shall march on!

 

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Wednesday – Just for Fun…

Aside

 

This food sculptures are way out there. Enjoy!
Visit http://www.klausenrique.com/index.html to see more.
What’s your favorite food?

I Live in Sin Nation, Not Sin City!

When I used to work the Technical Support lines at EarthLink Internet I occasionally got the consumer question of where I was located. I always answered the truth: “I live in Las Vegas.” That was always met by the usual response: “Oh Sin City!”

As I wondered about that possible pronoun, I wonder how many people realize the truth: Las Vegas may be named Sin City, and to a certain truth it is. We’ve got drugs, alcohol, strip bars, prostitutes, and many other things going on in my city. We’ve also got our fair share of violence…much of it bloody.

So why the name? Can the same thing not be said of other cities throughout the nation?
The question comes to mind as I watch TV episodes of COPS. While they feature Las Vegas on that show, they also feature places such as Houston, Texas, and even Miami, Florida. The one common theme I see throughout these cities are all similar to what goes on in Las Vegas.

It’s a sad reality that no matter where you live, and where you go, sin surrounds us. It’s in every cranny and nook of our nation. From the White House, down to the Highways and Byways. Some of it you see plain as day, and some you can’t see at all.

Some say that there is a major earthquake coming to Los Angeles (the City of Angels), San Francisco, and the rest of California. It will effectively wipe that state, as well as much of the West Coast from the map. They have been saying that since the last great earthquake, 6.7 on the Richter scale (1994). The one before it, on October 17, 1989 was a magnitude 7.1.

The Bible mentions earthquakes and pestilences that have either occurred, or are coming. It really depends on your point of view. Since the New Testament was written a very long time ago, said earthquakes and pestilences have already come to pass. We know from reading the history within the pages of the Bible that millions of people have perished due to the power of God acting on the world.

Sure, I see sin everywhere I look in Las Vegas. But I see a different kind of sin that no one else sees. That sin is called apathy. But it’s also called debauchery, fornication, idolatry, adultery, effeminate, abusers, thieves, coveters, drunkards, revilers, extortions.

If all this sounds familiar, it should, because it’s pretty much everywhere you go. And it’s not centralized in America either.

But always, where sin abounds, grace overflows. I’ve seen in my own life, and with my own eyes. So why not overflow in Las Vegas? Are we exempt? Is every sinner exempt from grace? I hope not! Because there are a lot of lost souls out there who need God in their lives. His love, His grace, and His forgiveness.

Las Vegas

What makes someone a good Christian?

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Ok, first of all, we all know no one is good, except God, right?

I have had the good fortune to meet some outstanding fine Christians since I’ve become one myself many years ago, and I have also had the bad fortune of meeting some rather not so outstanding Christians. I’ve been on both sides of that fence myself, so I can usually tell who’s who. That’s part of the gift of discernment, which is one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives you. I’ve meant Christians within the same church I was attending at the time who were fire breathers, and I’ve meant those who extinguished fires. I’ve meant Christians who have inspired me, and I’ve meant Christians who have turned me off. Being a good Christian is more than just knowing the word of God, it’s more than knowing the difference between right and wrong. This is because Christianity is based on community. It’s about putting the effort into your community. When you get up on stage in a play, you are an actor, playing a certain part. Have you ever realized while watching a movie that there are always two parts: There’s the protagonist, and there is always the antagonist. One will never exist without the other.

Being good at the Christian life requires a unique level of dedication and pain tolerance. Anyone that has suffered loss as the direct result of their faith realizes this. This is totally different from what everyone else goes through. It means that when you are under pressure from the world you never crack, because you have a certain discipline and you are fighting the good fight. You should have sweat pouring out of every pore, and your muscles are tight. You’re unmovable. You’re unshakeable! If perhaps you do fall due to the enemy’s charm, you are able to compose yourself enough to sit up, walk over and cheer on another member, because let’s face it, you’re truly not the only Christian out there.

That isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It is much easier to lie on the floor and take in all that happened, sometimes that’s more than necessary. It means you’ve suffered a devastating blow. But once you’ve been knocked down, and analyzed what went wrong, you learn, you adapt. So when another blow comes, you’re ready for it. Soon, the antagonist is throwing familiar blows, and you instinctively block them! Yes, being a good Christian is hard work. You got to get up thankful every morning that you have that morning. You got to get up and run the race with a great attitude. Certainly having a tough day at work, or argument with a loved one, or even facing a crisis of some sort (whether it’s a fight or flight) is hard.  However, such situations always have a short lifespan… usually only seconds or minutes. However, when we walk in, or out of the door, we all need to remember why we are there. We didn’t sign up for this deal because we wanted to be elite, to be strong, to be bold. We signed up because we were already called to be all those things. Christianity is never meant for the weak minded. You wouldn’t sign up for a gym membership or even a marathon because you’re weak and need to get in shape. No, you could get strong and get in shape on your own. You join the gym because you need to work in an environment with like minded people and to build relationships all while getting fit. The same thing goes for the  Christian community. No matter what type of Christian you are, you need community. Ok, true…you may not fit into the community at all. You may be on fire and find yourself in a community that is barely hanging on. But God sent you in there for a reason, and it’s not to turn your back on your community. The Baptist didn’t turn his back on his community. He cried out to them. Neither did he didn’t cry out to the ones outside. But then again, no one wants their heads cut off.  It’s not for our witness either. Being a good Christian isn’t about going into a church and not liking what’s going on. We could blatantly see wolves dancing in the isle. But many Christians, when they see such, do a turn and burn. Brothers, this is why the church is in such a fallen state. This is why the prosperity doctrine seems to flourish, this is why deceptions like Azura Street happen, because Christians are afraid to stand up and speak out!,

Good Christians know this! They know they have to have a voice – and use it! They know that in this horrid world where false religious practices, false religions, and false messiah rule that they need to step up their game unto a soap box and expose the lies, and reach out to those with willing ears, willing hearts, and willing minds. They are the ones with smiles on their face while in pain and out of breath, they are yelling the loudest during the run of their faith, they will go the extra mile to do good  when they lose count and they will always be giving 100 percent effort to being a Good Christian. I love a Good Christian. They are the ones who we need to blame for keeping the gospel alive, effective and inspiring, every single day. We should all strive to be good Christians!

To love and honor God first and foremost!

Not Even God Himself!

Chained-DoorIt’s been a rough month. It seems I’m getting hit on all side financially.

Last month I received the yearly notice for my vehicle registration renewal, smog test required, registration terminated. Somebody did some checking and realized my Mother had passed away, so the vehicle was no longer registered. So at the same time that I was getting the yearly mandatory smog test down on a early cool March morning my brother was down at the DMV getting the vehicle registered…his name, his other address.

A few days after I received a notice that my vehicle registration had lapse because of unpaid insurance. So in the confusion I contacted my insurance agent. The way it went, as I understood it, they attempted to call me to inform me, but my phone number had been disconnected. Then they attempted to mail me, but my address had changed (funny, I haven’t moved!)

Somewhere along the lines, wires had been crossed.

Typically, it’s not a good thing when electrical wires get crossed. A short circuit, or even fire results. Signals never reach their purposed end.

What I’m learning through all of this really doesn’t seem to help me out of what apparently is a dire financial situation. I’m not too positive about it, but being on disability income that is straight out way below the poverty level, I’ve always known and feared that this would happen eventually. My mother’s wisdom was always “There will always be an emergency.” That, of course, was followed up by the words of the Lord who in His parable about the five talents said “For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken  away

Yeah, I’m being stripped. But what’s awesome is that there is still plenty of mercy and grace available to me. Mercy that I can still cry out…maybe to unhearing ears, maybe to His ears. Grace that I live to breathe at least one more day.

And this is just between God and me. That’s the wonderful thing about it. I can’t point my fingers at anyone, nor can I point it at the system. Because when it comes down to it, these very harsh trials, and this very difficult time in my life can’t be anyone else’s fault.

Oh, it’s easy for so many of us to point the fingers at others. I used to be like “Oh, this happened because of this one’s fault”….

But sometimes, just sometimes, things happen in our lives that just happen. There is no reason for it. We all tend to go through life thinking it’s smooth sailing, or should be. But as Christians, we will get hit, and it will leave us with questioning everything and everyone that God has put in our paths. We may even question God Himself.

Perhaps that is why so many fail at the Christian life. I mean, when you look at the bigger picture, God is working everything out for our benefit. But it’s on His time, not ours.

We are fragile, we are made to suffer. No one will come along and ease our suffering. Not the wisest of wise, not the richest of the rich, not even the friendliest of the friendly.

Not even God Himself!