I find I am very discouraged and so narrowly focused on the negative. I must fight the constant temptation of self pity. Its a spiritual battle perhaps- a roller coaster of emotion that I must gather the strength to overcome. I know I should be thankful for having a job, but I do not feel that way right now. I have an unfulfilling, low paying data entry job that drains the life out of me as well as mounting medical bills from hospital visits and health issues. Everyday when I get home I find more medical bills and lab bills waiting for me- reminding me of the stillbirth and complications thereafter. I have had to forgo doctor apointments, medications and follow up lab tests and counseling because I cannot take off of work. Furthermore I don't have health benefits or holiday pay. Thankfully I was able to schedule a surgery last month on a non-work day. I am also thankful that the day I hemorrhaged a hefty volume of black, blood clots and nearly fainted- also happened on a non work day as well and that I didn't have to call out of work.
There are times I don't feel my low paying day job is worth all this, or that anything is- for that matter. Sometimes I work from sunrise to sunset and barely get to see my two kids who must stay in daycare all day. By the time I get home and make dinner there is barely any time for homework and baths. The reason people must work is to make money- I know. And I have to admit that although my pay is low, it still helps me to survive and without my pay I would possibly be homeless. It is true that my daycare expenses and car related expenses: gas and car repairs- take a large portion of my salary. I am thankful for the daycare, nevertheless and the fact that I do have a car. Last year in a time of need, the daycare continued to provide Samuel pre school- allowing him to finish the school year even though I was unable to pay.
I went to college to get my BS at Rutgers and then got my teaching certificate simply to work as a clerk in a small office doing mindless data entry. What a waste of time and money! I have to rely on the good will of my family and food stamps- both of which I am thankful for. Yet, I am humbled and ashamed. I cannot help but feel like a failure in the things that are important in this world for self sufficiency.
It is true that countless numbers have it worse. There are countless human lives that suffer day to day from sickness, poverty and death, that my small miseries aand complaints pale in comparison. I am disgusted with myself even for complaining about my minor issues when there are so many who suffer every single day with no relief in sight. People endure a lot of pain in this world- death, grief, terminal illness, poverty and natural disaster. Yet, many people choose live in the safety of their own cacoon- their own little comfortable lives, their own family, friends and career, focusing on materialism, instant gratification and ambition. I must fight against having a thankless and entitled attitude.
I was once asked by a elderly patient that I was transporting to the hospital -if I had any children. I answered her, "yes". After further questioning I told her that I had a boy and a girl. And she responded..."ahhh.... a rich man's family". I thought about those words, and yes it is true. I am "rich" in all that really matters and is important. I may not be rich by society's standards- as in the fact that I don't have material wealth, a career, special talents, or a mansion, or fancy shoes or an expensive Coach bag. But I do have my faith, and a promise of eternal life- and my two children, and I have my freedom- to practice my beliefs without fear of torture, and I don't have a terminal illness or chronic pain. I also have a place to live, and food to eat and clothes. In reality what more is important? Matthew 6:19-21
I must fight hard against the trend toward self pity and look to God's promises. My faith is feeling very low, especially at times. Yet I must keep in mind that God is there. I can reflect on Jesus - and that long, dark, lonely night he spent in the garden of Gethemsane. Jesus was God in the flesh, divine in spirit. Yet, at the same time Jesus was fully human- with a body subject to the same pains, discomforts and sensations as the rest of us. Though he was God, he was also a man. He was subject to human emotions: pain, grief, fear, thirst and forboding. With his divine nature, Jesus knew exactly what he was about to endure- a torturous death on the cross filled pain, suffering, humilation, shame. In fact the pain he was yet to experience in a few short hours was described in explicit detail by David in the Psalms and the prophet Isaiah! The torurous, sensations of drowning in one's own fluid filled lungs, in a prolonged death of asphyxiation, stretched out on the cross, was described by David. Isahiah and David fortold of the nakedness, shame, and humilation and abandonment that Jesus was yet to face at the cross. The sensations of thirst, pain, flesh stripped to shreds- to the bone, and even the shame- all fortold! Jesus was fully aware of what he would endure. Jesus was griefstricken, sickened, lonely, and axious. And who wouldn't be in the face of death on the cross? We complain and bellyache about much less! Jesus, in his despair and pain pleaded with God to take the cup of suffering away- three times! Jesus asked his apostles to have the strength to remain awake. But they could not remain awake. They simply did not have the strength. Blood stained sweat dripped from Jesus as he fervently prayed. (Whoever painted those santised, artistic renditions of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, depicting Jesus wearing a freshly pressed and laundered white robe, with a pensive yet peaceful look, in Italy in the 1400s, probably never read the actual biblical account. ) Yet, God gave Jesus- the supernatural strength he needed to persever, and Jesus responded "not My will but Your Will."
The power of the Holy Spirit is very real. The Holy Spirit is here and alive and ready for us. Not many people meditate on the significance of the Holy Spirit. Yes it is true, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity. Intellectually many people are aware of the fact. Every Sunday morning, we are reminded. Yet the significance is enormous! When you consider the Holy Spirit- which is in fact God (just as Jesus is God and the Father is God), then the true meaning and significance become more apparent. It is nothing short of miraculous! God is with us through the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit of God is no less real than the presense of Jesus Christ in ancient Palestine, or the presence of God, the Father in his throne in heaven. All three are God, and the Holy Spirit is essentialy God with us- here right now. It is the Holy Spirit that gave Jesus the strength to endure his fate on the cross. It is the Holy Spirit that helped Jesus survive 40 torturous and lonely days & nights in a dry desolate dessert, parched and hungry in the face of the devil's temptations. It is the Holy Spirit that gave a band of unlearned men. the apostles, the strength and wisdom to persevere and spread the good news of the gospel message. This same Holy Spirit strengthened the early believers to face a painful death, being torn to shreds by wild animals, as the were marytered for entertainment at the hands of the ancient Roman government. That same very Holy Spirit can help each and every one of us, infusing us with supernatural, spiritual strength to persevere, even when our minds and our bodies fail us. This is not about our own will power. It isn't about keeping a new years resolution or being tough and independant. This is not simply another self help type of advise that is contained in countless dieting, and relationship and other self helpbooks. This isn't like having a voice in one's head telling us what to do or what not to do. This is about the power of the Holy Spirit that helps us, when we are at our weakest. We don't muster this strength on our own merits, but rather by placing our faith in God.
Jesus explained that we must not live by bread and food alone but by the word of God. The word of God is more important than the food and water we need for our daily sustainance! Certainly food and water keep our physical bodies alive and functioning, but there is something much more important than the physical body- and that is the spirit. Our spiritual health is more important to true life than merely our physical state. And, even when our bodies betray us, when our physical bodies fail us and shame us, we can find renewing and refreshing strength that we need from the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has the miraculous life chaging power to renew each and every one of us spiritually. Replace the expression or term "Holy Spirit" with "God" and it will become clear that God himslef has the power to renew and restore our spirit in order to give us the strength we need to endure and persevere. With God at your side, who needs a counselor or physchologist? Pills, doctors, drugs and medications pale in comparison to the power of God himself through the Holy Spirit! Everything is second place- money, prosperity, career, selfish ambition- its all a counterfit when it comes to the power for peace and strength. You can spend hours in psychotheraphy, you may spend lots of money shopping, or to go on drinking binges, or mind- numbing outings at bars, parties, clubs, sports and other entertainment- all these things may numb the pain or provide diversion- but none of these things can heal. Only God can heal. The power of the Holy Spirit can heal the sick and weak spirit. The power of the holy Spirit can changes lives- no matter how many days you have remaining before you- whether its one day or 70 years. We don't need to be vampires to live for ever, nor do we need superheros like Superman or Spiderman to save us.
It is possible to have peace and thankfulness- even when life is not perfect. God did not take away my problems-they are still there. But, sometimes God's answer to our requests and problems is simply "no", yet I was offered spiritual strength and peace. It is through trials and storms we gain spiritual strength and the ability to persevere. I've been shortsited- overcome in my own personal grief and anxiety. Paul had the thorn in his side, that God chose not to take away and in his weakness he found strength. When Jesus pleaded with God in Gethemane to take away his cup of suffering he was given strength and peace to proclaim, "not my will, but yours." I have the spiritual strength to go on another day, and the peace to lay aside my worry and anxiety. God has the power to grant hope and change lives- God has been there for me in the past to pull me through and will do so now.