Daily Devotions

Facing Death with Life

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I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. (Acts 24:15)

Life, it is a challenge. All of us are emotionally challenged – it is just a matter of degrees. Why? In part because we are dying. Each one of us is terminal. It isn’t if we are going to die, but how and when. This anxiety is low level until it is forced to the forefront of our minds because of an impending surgery, cancer, or the death of a loved one. Then, we grieve anew our own short lives on this earth.

The key to a happy and fulfilled life depends, in part, on how we face the reality of our impending death. Some people face their mortality with alcohol and drugs. Others treat life as play and focus on “Bucket Lists.” Still others pretend it simply isn’t going to happen. In some ways, those are the individuals I worry about the most. Ignoring a serious situation will make its reality significantly more shocking when suffering and death rears its ugly head.

Faith in God, through Jesus Christ, provides the lasting answer to the questions of death and dying. The “Who” is all of us. Everyone you’ve ever known. “What” is the reality of our deaths. “When” is within 100 years, but it could happen today. “Where” is on this earth. “Why” is tricky. Are we just another group of atoms organized into another form of animal and aligned over trillions of years of evolution? Was it due to our sinfulness, as so many theologians of the past have asserted? Is it just the first part of our eternal journey with God? Our belief in God does not provide all the answers. But in faith, we need not know the answers as long as we trust in the God who cares and has the power to heal us eternally.

Today, consider your mortality and the mortality of all you know. Rather than let it feel overwhelming, be honest about your thoughts and beliefs. Then, offer it all up to God. The process of faith will help you face the reality of death and dying in an emotionally healthy way. Your emotional and spiritual wellbeing will help bring healing to your life, and those you care about and love. Facing the painful is the way to healing and wholeness.                        

Self Awareness: Pay Attention

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Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

All of us have people we feel more comfortable with than others. As a pastor, I try to open my heart to everyone, and not play favorites. When a minister is viewed as having his/her pals, it is harder for others in the church to feel a connection. With all pastors, whether they would admit it or not, there are also those rare people who push all your buttons and are harder for us to provide care.

This is the second in the series of devotions on Self-Awareness. I am receiving assistance from writer Nick Wignall and his article on “How to Be More Self-Aware.” Wignall rightfully points out, “Often the things that irritate us the most in other people are a reflection of some quality we dislike in ourselves.” It takes courage to peek behind the emotional curtain and learn the uncomfortable aspects of our psyche. This is a difficult task. One way to open that door to ourselves is to recognize the buttons people push in us.

When someone regularly irritates or angers me, I have tried to train myself to ask, “What is it about them that is making me upset. What does my irritation say about me? Why does this person have the power to negatively affect my emotions?” I’ve learned to hold off on placing blame until I’ve had time to assess the situation and my emotions to it. Sometimes a person is just trying to make my life, or someone else’s life, miserable. But most of the time, when I figure out why they are pushing my buttons, I learn a little more about myself and my own personal issues. It also makes it easier to respond faithfully to the challenging person.

Wignall challenges us, “Could this be a reflection of something in me that I dislike? Do I do some version of that?” The more I am able to answer these uncomfortable questions, the more I am able to respond to challenging individuals without becoming part of the problem. We are all still a work in progress and none of us does this perfectly every time, but making the attempt makes all the difference. Prayerfully ask God to give you the courage and wisdom to pay attention so your self-awareness becomes ever more mature.

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