Handling the Hard Stuff

July 8, 2024

Handling the Hard Stuff

July 8, 2024

This week, we're diving into "Handling the Hard Stuff." Life throws some real curveballs, right? From tough medical diagnoses to personal losses, how do we cope? I'll share insights inspired by a recent episode of The Chosen and some things the Lord put on my heart.

First off, HUGE thanks to everyone who tuned into last week’s solo episode and sent in those heartwarming messages. Your support means the world to me, especially since going solo isn’t easy without my friend or guests around.

This week, we’re diving into “Handling the Hard Stuff.” Life throws some real curveballs, right? From tough medical diagnoses to personal losses, how do we cope? I’ll share insights inspired by a recent episode of The Chosen and some things the Lord put on my heart.

Plus, exciting news! If you’re heading to the Eucharistic Congress, come find us at booth 1332 from July 16-21. We’ll have merch, info on our ministry, and a chance to meet you all in person. Don’t miss our live podcast on Thursday with Father Malachy, chatting about the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist.

Thanks for being part of this journey. Let’s get into it! 🙏

📚: Bible verses for reflection

Isaiah 55:8-9
Romans 8:28
1 Peter 5:7-10

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May 12-23: Join Father Larry and me on a spiritual journey to the Holy Land. Walk in the footsteps of Christ and experience an unforgettable pilgrimage.


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Welcome back to the pew everybody. I am your host, John Edwards, and this week will be another solo episode. Last week was 4th of July and it was crazy schedules. And I was out of town, a bunch of my family and enjoying the holiday and family time. So it was hard to get up with Victor, with our two schedules and all the family stuff planned and everything like that.

So you get me again this week, flying solo. Well, and I want to say thank you. First of all, to the people who listened into the last week’s episode, which was also a solo one. So many of you send encouraging words. Uh, you know, I, I didn’t know if I was going to put that one out or not. But, uh, I was encouraged by the Lord and by other people to put it out.

So I did. And so thank you for all of you that, that sent in encouraging words and words of affirmation after that, because it is a different deal doing a show by yourself when you’re so used to having one of your best friends in the world in here to have a conversation with, or a guest or something like that.

So, but again, the Lord touched my heart this week with, uh, uh, another message, actually one that, um, came off of the last episode and some things that I, uh, He was speaking into my heart, uh, after that episode. So we’re going to jump into all of that. This episode is going to be called, uh, handling the hard stuff.

And it’s something that we get questioned about a lot. Like, how do I handle the hard stuff in my life? How do I deal with the sufferings? How do I deal with the things that don’t seem like a fair shake? So we’re going to talk about all that in here in just a minute, but I wanted to take a second to tell everybody Eucharistic Congress, which is happening next week, uh, then please look for us.

We’re going to be there from the 16th. through the 21st right along the side of thousands of other Catholics that are going to be there, um, trying to grow closer to the Lord in the Eucharist and to celebrate the Eucharist, the source and the summit of our faith and to come together as brothers and sisters in the universal church to, to give reverence to that, which is the most important thing, the Eucharist, Jesus’s body of blood himself.

So I’m super excited to be there. We’re going to have a booth, uh, all week long. So our booth number is 1332. It’s right there actually to the right of the center of the room. Uh, it’s not far from the food court, but we’re going to be set up there with Derek and myself, you know, Derek, who I hired a few months ago to be our director of marketing operations.

He’s going to be there. We’re going to have all our merchandise. We’re going to have some. Pamphlets and more information for all of you that are DREs or priests or deacons that may be looking To find out more about what we do and how we can serve you and your parish and the men of your parish By starting and launching men’s groups.

We’ll have all that we’re going to have contests so you can win free merchandise We’ll be there most days in the time that the rooms is open like 12 to 6 and so we can’t wait to see you there Uh come by because we’re going to have contests. We’re going to give away free merchandise So please make sure you come by and see us.

I would love to meet you. I’d love to give you a hug, shake your hand, take pictures, do all that kind of stuff. I’d love to meet you and say thank you for the time that you’ve put into listening to us and the support you’ve given to our ministry. So again, booth 1332 in the Annapolis convention center. Uh, one other thing I want to announce on here, if you didn’t hear it last time or the time before, when I mentioned it, uh, we will also be podcasting.

There’s a live podcast area there in the convention center. And our data podcast is going to be on that Thursday of the week of the Eucharistic Congress from 3. 30 to 4. 30. And that is in room 140 in the Indiana Convention Center. So we’ll be interviewing Father Malachy. Many of you have watched our episodes.

He’s a great friend of mine. Uh, I’m really excited to talk about the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist and transformation and what real transformation looks like and the fire that the Holy Spirit brings and the passion the Eucharist should, should give us in our lives. So we’re going to have an amazing conversation from three 30 to four 30 in room 40 there, one 40, excuse me, one 40.

So folks come by our booth, 1332 when you’ve got free time in between the sessions and in the afternoon. And then come and check us out on that podcast. I would love to meet you. I’d love to say thank you for all your support, whether it’s listening or financially or whatever it is, buying merchandise. I just want to say thank you for choosing to listen and for spreading the word about what we’ve been doing all these years.

So come to the booth, come to the Congress. We’ll see you there. So folks, I, like I said, this is going to be a solo episode again. Um, it’s going to be one. I hope that’s inspired by the Holy spirit as I always hope is it’s inspired by the Holy spirit. But, you know, after last week’s episode. Um, I was really nervous about putting it out.

I really was. Uh, you know, I got vulnerable. I shared a lot of different things. I shared my struggles and as I’ve told you, I’ve always wanted to do that, but what does the devil do? He wants to start beating on you and telling you, Oh, that’s, that’s, you shouldn’t do that. Or that’s not going to be good. Or maybe you overshared and, and you know, so I almost didn’t put it out, but I’m glad I did because so many of you reached out, as I said, with encouraging and affirming affirming words about how you found yourself in those same sort of struggles in your life.

Uh, in dealing with some of the dryness and the aridity and, uh, the desolation that we can find ourselves in and, and that, yeah, that you found it, uh, encouraging that that doesn’t mean that you’re not still on the narrow road. It just means that that road is challenging. And so to continue the theme a little bit of that.

Um, we’re going to face challenging times in our life. Uh, you know, we’re going to deal with hard stuff and oftentimes the hardest thing about being a Christian is how to handle the hard stuff, is how to deal with the difficult things, whether it’s, you know, uh, a terrible medical diagnosis, like a cancer or something, whether it’s a loss of life in the family, whether it’s a loss of job or, or, you know, even folks like you look at Katrina and things like that in the past Have decimated in an instant where people their lives like everything they had and and they’ve had to rebuild their lives Right, we all have to deal with some sort of sufferings and struggles in our lives Even if it’s a broken relationship or a divorce or a loss of love in some way or another Um, they’re very difficult things that we have to deal with in our lives as christians And how we handle them makes all the difference in the world how we deal with them With the sufferings of our life if you will It’s going to really have a lot to do with what kind of person we’re going to be and the mindset we’re going to have and if we can be a Christian in all things, if we can be the person that Christ calls us to be in and through all things.

And you know, this was, this was something that, that, you know, it’s hard. It never gets any easier, but through the battles that we go through and the ones that we survive. Um, we can look back, we can choose to do one thing, either be glad that it’s over with and never look back at it, or we can look at those things and, and learn, like, what did I garner out of that suffering?

And it’s an important point, uh, to start off with is to say that we can look at suffering in one of two ways. Uh, either, man, God, why did you do that? Why did you allow that to happen? Why did I have to go through all this and question everything and, and, and deal with it that way, which so many of us do.

It’s such a human reaction, but there’s another way we can deal with it too. And we can look into that suffering to see what, what was the good that came out of it, right? If we can just move ourselves away from, from the interior posture of why this to me, why, why, why, why, why? And move and say okay lord this happened and there’s nothing I can do about it Like what what am I supposed to learn from this?

What is the good that you want to come out of this and it’s a completely different set of questions of what a lot Of us tend to ask because we are human and we don’t want to suffer We don’t want pain and loss and difficulty and all those things, but it’s what comes with being a christian It’s what came after the fall, right?

Everything was good and everything was perfect and then adam and eve, you know They chose the wrong thing and sin and death came in the world and If there’s going to be good, there has to be evil, right? There, it’s a two sided coin and you know, there’s truth and there’s lies. There’s so many things that have an opposite.

And because of those, the, the, the, the existence of one of them, there’s the existence of the other. And so we’re all going to have to suffer. There’s going to be evil because there is good, right? There is. There’s free will so in order to have a choice there has to be two things to choose from And that’s the way it is in most of our life with with things.

So This is why we have good. This is why we have evil But you know, I was watching uh the season, uh four of the chosen this last season it came out I you know was waiting till almost all the episodes came out because i’m not patient I don’t want to sit there and wait and all that stuff so got busy with other things and finally I saw that it was You know, I think I started watching when season six or second not season, but episode six had come out It was able to watch through those and in the final two weeks and you know I want to start off by saying I love the shows and so many people do Um, there are things that sometimes I disagree with what they do.

Um, they it is a creative show It’s it’s a it’s a drama. I mean the directors come out and said that look this is a television show Not everything is going to be biblically accurate. They’re going to take Creative license with things it certainly As a Catholic, there’s things that I’m like, Oh, that wasn’t correct.

Or, Oh, that wasn’t that. But you know, at the end of the day, it’s doing a lot of good things out there because it’s bringing people to Jesus. It’s, it’s opening their eyes to this human side of the apostles and the Christ. And it really is a beautiful show. Uh, even though sometimes, like I said, there’s some things that stick out.

They’re like, eh, that wasn’t biblically accurate or whatever. None of us are perfect. Like I said, it is a drama and they have creative license, but there was a. There’s something I want to talk about in context with the chosen and then the suffering aspect that this dealing with the hard stuff, handling the hard stuff.

And if you’ve been watching with it, you know that again, they took creative license to say that, uh, Thomas, the apostle was, uh, seeing this, this woman that was a, uh, from a vineyard that was also a follower of Jesus. She was a disciple of Jesus alongside Mary Magdalene and, and some of the other women in the show.

Now, not biblically, there’s no one named Rayma or, Uh, and there’s nothing that says Thomas was getting engaged or falling in love with a woman. Uh, there’s nothing that spirit, that, that scripture references about that, but they’re using their relationship and they’re, they’re, they’re growing love for one another, uh, for a purpose.

And so, uh, in one of the episodes, Uh, is, is Thomas ask, uh, for her hand in marriage. Jesus says that he will grant some things to make this happen because her father didn’t want her to marry Thomas and didn’t want her to follow Jesus and all these things. So there’s some difficulty there in the show. Uh, again, this is what they’re making up and creating as they go along with the storyline.

Um, and long story short, she winds up dying, uh, basically the day they find out they get married and they’re planning and all these things that Jesus is saying, yes, that he would oversee it and he would bless it as a rabbi. She winds up getting stabbed by the Praetor during a riot when Jesus and the Pharisees are going at it Uh arguing and back and forth when he’s calling them, you know, a brood of vipers and all those things So long story short she dies and then of course thomas Wanted to know why jesus didn’t heal her why he didn’t um save her now jesus was being rushed off during the riot, but you know in thomas’s eyes he could have Done something to to stop that and so he struggles with that through the remaining episodes leading up to the end of the season and even Uh, it shows peter and james and john kind of discussing it themselves because if you remember biblically they had been in the room when jesus raised jesus’s daughter from the dead, so Um, they were wondering like hey, we saw what we saw Why couldn’t he do this even though they weren’t allowed to tell any of the other?

Disciples so long story short, um, it comes to one of the last episodes where jesus is going to raise lazarus And so the whole way there is they’re walking Uh, they’re trying to figure out why they’re going there What jesus is going to do and they’re kind of showing this angst of thomas of like I hope he’s not going to resurrect I hope he’s not going to do something that he could have done for her Now again, I just want to say again and i’ll say it several times.

This is their creative license. This is them. Um, Making drama in the show. It’s not biblically accurate But there was something that was very powerful that I thought went hand in hand with this that happened So jesus raises lazarus from the dead and as he comes out You could just see thomas crushed and they’re showing the disciples staring at thomas like they know Well, this is incredible and he is who he says he is like he’s raising someone from the dead But then they all kind of snap and go.

Oh, man, what is this going to mean for thomas? And so thomas is witnessing this and he begins to cry when he sees it And, and so the Lord, you know, as soon as he, he, as Jesus talks to Lazarus and talks to his sisters and they take him home to get something to eat, he turns around and he looks right at Thomas.

And I want to read the dialogue there because Thomas kind of hits his knees and he’s sobbing. And he’s like a lot of us when terrible things happen, like when we just don’t understand the pain of like, Lord, why is this suffering being allowed and why is this happening to me? And why is this so difficult?

And I’m trying to understand and we can’t make heads or tails. Out of anything, right? Like, why does this have to happen? Like when a child gets sick, the fact that there’s even. You know, my wife works at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the fact that there’s even the need for a children’s hospital for cancer, why does the Lord allow that to happen to the weakest and the most vulnerable and the, and the, and the best of us in these little children?

Like, there’s things like that in life that we just don’t comprehend, like we can’t understand it. And so they’re trying to show this in this scene. And so Thomas, um, you know, he’s sitting there on his knees crying and he doesn’t understand. Uh, why the Lord is, why he’s done this for Lazarus and why he didn’t do it for the woman that he loved.

Again, fictionally, uh, that part of the, of the show is fictional. It’s not biblical, but he sits there and he’s kneeling and Jesus walks over and he grabs him by the hand and he kneels right in front of him and he lifts up his face and he puts his hand on his shoulder and he says this, he says, Thomas and Thomas is looking right at him like, please tell me why.

Please tell me you’re going to fix this. Please go and do this. You can just tell he’s, he’s so confused and he’s trying, he’s angry and he’s hurt. But he’s, he loves the Lord and he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t want to do anything to disrupt that relationship, but he’s just, he has the question we all have, like, if you really loved me, why did you allow this to happen?

Why did you do it for them and not for me? And oftentimes that can be the way we feel when we see someone else receive something or a healing or, or, or something, their life is turning around in a way, and it wasn’t for us. I could tell you that so many men have come up to me and said, why did your, why, why did your wife stay with you when mine wouldn’t, you know, why did that happen for you, but not for me?

And. And it, there is no answer to that, like, right, except for it was God’s will. And so Thomas is looking at Jesus for these things in this episode and, and Jesus says this, Thomas, I don’t expect you to understand now. I don’t. What the Father allows, what I allow in order to bring about my Father’s will, and the faith and the growth of his church, it can be crushing for you.

And yes, even for me. And in this part, like, Jesus is alluding to the fact that even he will have to suffer. Like, even he isn’t impervious to suffering, right? As a human being, because he was fully God and fully man. He had to go and march to his passion and through, through his passion to the cross, and he would die this terrible death for us.

He would’ve to suffer for our sake. Right? And so he’s even telling Thomas like, I know it can be crushing for you. And yes, even for me. And so Thomas looks down and he starts to cry and he says, I, it’s too much. It’s too much. I don’t understand, I don’t understand. And Jesus looks at him again and says, I know.

And that hurts my heart, but please, please stay with me Thomas and you’ll understand in time It’s such a powerful scene when I watched it. I started to To cry. I started to, to, to feel for Thomas and I, and I felt for the Lord because he’s sitting here with all this power and the ability to do just that, to fix what Thomas wanted him to fix, but it wasn’t in God’s will.

It wasn’t in God’s will. And, and so it, it broke the Lord’s heart to see in this, in this, again, fictional depiction of this scene that they came up with, uh, to sort of show reasons why Thomas would doubt or, or just to show us really this, the suffering that we all have to go through. Um, they did a beautiful job with something they were making up.

But again, like, as I watched it, I felt it. I was like, man, I know what it’s like to be, like, to feel for both sides, right? And to be Thomas, to be the one that’s going, why Lord, why Lord, why Lord? And I’ll get into why I understand that so much here in just a minute. But when bad things happen, we often don’t understand and the thing is, if we don’t have the relationship with Christ.

That we’re supposed to then then things are going to go the wrong way Because what’s going to happen when we don’t understand we tend to get angry We tend to get frustrated and then we look for someone or something to blame And a lot of times if we don’t have a relationship with the lord, we blame the lord We turn away from god and that’s exactly what the devil wants, right?

He he’s licking his chops at these things Waiting for these moments of this great suffering because sin and evil and death exist When he gets a shot at something and he could take this and try to spin it to where we turn away from the lord And that’s why the why jesus in this fictional scene is looking at thomas.

He’s like, please Please stay with me and in time you’ll understand. I know you don’t understand and I know It’s not fair and it hurts my heart, but just trust me, stay with me and you’ll understand. And what he meant was obviously he was alluding towards what he was going to have to go through. And he was going to, Thomas would understand then that, that even God suffered for us, right?

That the son of God suffered for us. And that if he had to, none of us are going to be able to escape that suffering in our life to be able to escape that. And oftentimes I think as human beings, we want to, you know, we want the crown without the cross. We want, We want Easter Sunday without Good Friday.

We don’t want to carry those crosses. We don’t want to be nailed to the cross alongside Christ. But that’s exactly what he says in our life we will have to do. Pick up your cross and follow me. That is the invitation of the Lord. He never said it was gonna be easy. He, he never said it would be without struggle, but he often said, I am even willing to do this.

Like what is, the servant is no better than the master, right? This is what he says in other parts of scripture. Like even the, if the master had to do it, we too will have to do it. But it’s so hard to understand that in the struggles, and I understand that. I understand too that when you don’t have the right relationship with the Lord.

That you’re going to turn from him that you’re going to struggle that you’re going to find yourself in terrible places I know because if you’ve listened to the show for any amount of time One of the big turning points in my life that turned me away from christ Was when my mother died, you know, my mother had cancer and she had it for years.

She was in remission She was doing well Then she had to have heart surgery and she had to stop the chemo And then the the cancer came back and moved from her breast into her lymph nodes into her lungs And then into her brain. And I was there the day I was in the doctor, the day my mother, for the first time I ever went to a doctor’s appointment with my mother, you know, selfish and I only cared about myself, but this one day, and I’m convinced it was just the Lord, like it was the Lord moving me to go do this.

I knew she was here for a cancer appointment. And so I drove over to the West Clinic, which now is, you know, a couple blocks from my house and I drove over there for the first time and I walked in and my mother happened to be there with my father still at her appointment. I go in, she was elated because I’d never come to one of her doctor’s appointments.

She didn’t expect me. I didn’t tell him I was coming. And the doctor walked in, a doctor I’d never met, my sister’s handled all that stuff, any information I knew about. Uh, my mother’s, uh, struggle with cancer came from either my sisters or my mother. I never, uh, took the time as they did because again, I was selfish, uh, to, to, to keep up to date or to know what she was, what was going on with her.

And I remember the doctor walking in and saying, Hey, you must be John. And, and, uh, you know, it’s nice to finally meet you. I’m sorry. Under the, it’s under these circumstances. And then she turned and looked and said, you know, and I’m sorry, but we knew when you start, if you stop the chemo to have the heart surgery, which you needed to have that your cancer could spread.

And it has, it’s moved from your, from your, uh, breast to your lymph nodes, to your lungs and into your brain. And you’ve got a few weeks to a month to live. I was in there and I remember just this, what, what, how could this be? What do you mean? Like, no, this is, this can’t be right. Like, no, she’s, she, she’s supposed to live and God’s supposed to handle this.

And, and, and she’s a God fearing woman and she loves the Lord and she prays and she served him impeccably. And I just remember all that running through me and going like, no, I can’t believe the words I just heard. This has got to be some sick joke. And God, this is where you, you fix things. And I remember my father crying.

It was the first time I’d seen him cry in my life, I think. And then they got in the car and I followed them to their house in Midtown that they still own. They were in the middle of moving to the house that they had built down where my mother had land growing up. They both were from the same small town and wanted to go back there and live.

And, and so they went back to the house in Midtown to get clothes to go down there and to deal with this, this knowledge and this, this shattering diagnosis and news that had come. And I remember falling into my mother’s lap and I thought my dad had gone to the house and he was going in there to get stuff that they needed.

And I just started crying in my mom’s lap and I was like, no, this isn’t right. This isn’t right. This is, this can’t happen. I don’t want you to die. I don’t want you to die. And I remember my mother just kind of rubbing my hair back when I had hair, um, and saying, John, it’s okay. I knew this could always happen and I love the Lord and he loves me and, and I know that I’m, I’m going to be with him forever.

And. And I’m going to see my parents again. And she was saying all these things. And I was like, no, I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear that. Like, no, this needs to be fixed and you can’t give up hope. And there’s still something can happen. A miracle can happen. We just got to ask for it. And my mother was just like, yeah, we’ll continue to pray.

But if this is God’s will, this is God’s will. And I didn’t want to hear it. I was so angry, but I was trying not to show that in front of her, because I knew I didn’t even, I couldn’t even fathom what she was probably going through. And I remember my father coming out and I didn’t really want any piece of that with the state he was in and.

So I got out of the car. My mother asked me to call my sisters, um, and to tell them, and I remember as the car drove off, I was trying to hold it together until they were, they were leaving and they were gone. And then I just remember turning towards this perch, the porch of this house I grew up in for so many years of my life.

And I ran up and I kicked this porch as hard as I could, which wasn’t very smart. It was much harder than my foot, but I remember just screaming, just, Oh, like just yelling and letting out all this pain and this emotion and, and this confusion. And, and I remember as I kicked the porch, I just remember going, God, I hate you.

I hate you. Like, how could you do this? How could you take her? Like, here I am, this lying scumbag drug addict loser, because I was doing cocaine. for 17 years of my life and I was a terrible husband and a terrible father and I only cared about myself and I’m so selfish to the point of even Trying to tell my mother she couldn’t die because I needed her and my kids needed her and I, I, I, I, I, I.

That’s who I was at the time and I knew that. And I looked at God and I said, why? Like, this isn’t fair. Right? Why does she have to die? Like, I’m the scumbag. I’m the lying drug addict loser that doesn’t deserve to live. Like, why would you take her and not me? She has served you impeccably. She has loved you well.

She has prayed to you. She has given her life to you. And yet here I am, this scumbag loser who has turned away from you and everything that you ever were to me, and you’re going to leave me and take her? If that’s the kind of God you are, I will never worship you again in my life. I hate you. Folks, I didn’t have a relationship with Christ at that point in my life.

I turned away from the drugs, the alcohol, the money, success, all the things that the world tells men they need to have to find worth, which is a total freaking lie, by the way. I turned away from everything I turned away from Christ and and my father in heaven and I had no relationship with him So what happened the devil swooped right in there and I started to blame him I started to blame God and I turned away from us that I will never worship you again And I did everything in my power not to This is where we can get to if we don’t have the relationship with Christ that we’re called to this is why it’s so important To let the Lord really into our hearts and to come to know him because when you really know Jesus You Like, you know that he’s never going to do anything to harm you.

Like, God doesn’t sit there and go, I’m going to take John’s mother away from him because I want to punish him. It’s just the things that happen in the permissive will of God. We don’t understand them, and we’re not meant to. Like, that’s the thing, like, we aren’t meant to always understand God’s ways, but we are meant to accept it in faith and in trust no matter what.

And that’s the hardest part, one of the hardest parts of being a Christian, is accepting God’s will. Amen. Amen. Accepting Christ’s will no matter what it is to you, no matter what it costs. This is where the rubber meets the road for people that are really living as disciples. And, and this beautiful scene that I’ve been talking about that again was fictional, you know, that there’s no biblical reference to this at all.

But in this scene from The Chosen where they’re trying to show this, and this, this great struggle that we all have, Like Thomas, you could tell that he wants to leave. Like he, he wants to just abandon Christ. He wants to go away and say the heck with this, but he stays, he stays, he stays with Christ, like they show him at the end of the episode or the end of the season when Jesus is on the donkey and he’s about to go into Jerusalem.

And he says, Will you stay with me? And again, not biblically accurate, Simon says you have the words of eternal life, which we know as Catholics that didn’t happen there. It happened, uh, after the bread of life discourse, uh, in John six, but they show Thomas there. And even though he looks mortified, even though he looks so confused, even though he looks like he could barely stand, he can barely walk to follow Christ.

He’s still there. He’s still there. He’s still with him. And that’s the place that we all have to be, right? And when the struggles and the difficulties come in our life, like. We have to be there. And eventually that’s what happened with me in the midst of my struggles, the midst of thinking I was having two heart attacks one night after doing so much, so much cocaine, like I wanted to call it to the Lord and I didn’t.

Because I was obstinate because I blamed him for my mother’s death because I hated him as I said But the lord kept working. He kept seeking me out He kept chasing me and eventually he came back into my life and gave me an opportunity To see that it was not ever him doing anything wrong. It was just the consequences of the fall that there’s good and there’s evil and for free will there must be a choice and there must be Good and evil for there to be a choice And while it wasn’t my choice for a mother to die, and it wasn’t God doing it on purpose, it’s just a consequence of, of, of the fall.

And I know that’s not easy to accept, but what you can accept is that God loves you. That even though things have to happen that we don’t understand, that he allows. That he loves you and you see that in the story of job, right? It’s the first thing my mom always goes to with suffering is he was this perfect this this man who loved the lord He wasn’t perfect, but he loved the lord And the lord was god was bragging on him, you know, like about his integrity and what this great man of god he was and he gives the devil a chance to to destroy him and to tempt him and You know, and job goes through terrible suffering.

He loses everything. He had all the great wealth and the cattle and the livestock and the camels and his, and even his daughters and sons are taken from him, uh, in a storm, right? They’re slaughtered by, uh, you know, uh, attacking armies. And then job is, he’s got sores all over his body. Right, like things keep happening and he’s like the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed is the Lord.

And you sit in there and you read that and you’re like, how can you say that? Like look at all the terrible things that he’s allowing you to go through and it is a depiction of this. He’s allowing us to go through it, right? The Lord allows it. He doesn’t cause it. He allows it and this is where the understanding has to take place.

Uh, there’s not a God up there that’s putting his thumb on me and trying to squash me. There’s a God up there that prays that I, he, that I remember how much he loves me and how he knows what it’s like to suffer. And as Jesus said to Thomas in that fictional scene, I know it’s crushing for you. And yes, even for me, he understands because he’s been through more suffering than you and I could ever understand.

All of his best friends abandoning him, right? Like being tortured. Being spit at, being stoned, like, you know, being, being, people throwing stones at him that were supposed to be the religious leaders of the world, the religious leaders of the faith tying or chaining, nailing him to a cross and putting through all that suffering.

Trust me, he knows more suffering than you and I can ever know. But Isaiah 55 8 9 says this too, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts more than your thoughts.

I know that’s not that comforting, but it’s the truth. Like our ways aren’t the Lord’s ways and part of faith is just accepting things sometimes. Even though we don’t want to and they’re so painful and they’re so hard. But that’s where our faith grows because we come back to understanding that the Lord always wills our good.

Right? That he always is. I mean, even, even Jesus himself felt this, this, the struggle with God’s will. I mean, we see it in the garden, right? We see in the garden where he’s saying, Lord, take this father, take this cup from me. Let this pass for me. Like, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this because it is in his humanity.

He understood the pain that it was going to cause in. In his, uh, in his divinity, he knew all, he knew what was going to happen. And as a human, as a fully man, he knew what it was going to feel like. And even in the garden, he struggled. He didn’t want to go through that. He didn’t want to have to go through what he had to go through.

But in the end, he surrendered to God’s will and he said, not your will be done, but mine. Not your will, but not my will, but mine. Sorry, I’m messing that up. Not my will, but yours. Let thy will be done. That’s what he was trying to say. That’s what he did say. And that’s what all of us have to understand in our life.

My mother died, but we had Jacob born right before that, where life was taken, new life was given. And then I was given two wonderful daughters, twins. What a gift that is for anybody. But not long after my mother passed. The Lord taketh and the Lord, you know, the Lord giveth and he taketh away, as Job said.

But through it all we have to learn to trust and love in the Lord. Paul talks about this in Romans 8 28. He says we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. Right? We know that in everything, everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly, God works for good for those who love him.

This is what Jesus is depicting in that fictional scene with Thomas when he says, please, please stay with me, Thomas, and in a while you will understand. Do I understand? Does my mother’s death make sense? No. But you know what I can look at? If my mother hadn’t died like that when she did. I wouldn’t have gone further off the rails into the drugs and the alcohol.

I wouldn’t have had those panic attacks, those nights, that made me consider going to a men’s conference to go to confession, to confess my life. And even then, after that confession, still turning back to the drugs and being arrested on Holy Thursday in 2016, meeting Christ in a jail cell. And finally, surrendering my life back to him, forgiving, asking for his forgiveness for myself, blaming him for everything with my mother, coming to understand that it was just God’s will.

The good and the bad and the ugly, it’s permissed in God’s will. Understanding all of that, and understanding that it wasn’t his fault, there wasn’t anything he did against me, it was just the way things had to be. If it hadn’t been for my mother’s death, none of that would have happened, and I wouldn’t be on this camera in front of you today, and I wouldn’t be talking to you through your face right now.

Your earbuds or your car speakers and going around the world in the in a ministry is now an international ministry So yes when I love to have my mother back. Yes more than anything There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that woman and what she meant in my life There’s not a day that a tear doesn’t come to my eye.

There’s not a void in my heart but I also could see that In everything god works for good through those who live for those who love him Who are called according to his purpose. I can see that his ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts. He’s God and I’m not. And part of faith is understanding that.

And understanding that is how you handle the hard things. It’s how you deal with the hard things in your life. St. Peter talks about this too. He affirms this too. He talks about in 1 Peter 7 through 10. He says, cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. be sober and vigi and, and vigilant.

Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour Resist him steadfast in faith Knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings And after you have suffered a little while the god of all grace Who has called you to his eternal glory in christ will himself restore confirm strengthen and establish you what great solace we should find in that my brothers and sisters I mean, listen to that, cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

In that fictional scene again in The Chosen, season 4, episode 7 or whatever it was, you see Jesus there in the dirt, on the knee, on his knees right in front of Thomas, looking him eye to eye in the midst of his sufferings and saying, I understand. It can be crushing to not understand the will of the Father, not to understand the things that happen in our life.

But he’s like, yeah, Even for you and even for me it can be crushing again alluding to his own suffering and what his disciples did not understand What the apostles did not understand what he was gonna have to go through and that’s why I said just stay with me Please please stay with me and you’ll understand after a while.

This is the same thing. He says to us So st. Peter says cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you be sober and vigilant Why does he say that there? Because he goes on to say your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour When these hard things when these bad things we understand happen There are two ways we can turn we can lean further into the Lord the way Job did Job leans further and further into the Lord.

Yes. He wanted to cry out Yes, he wanted to say Lord, why me and and he wanted to curse the Lord I’m sure because he was human too, but he didn’t and he leaned further into the Lord and what happened Everything was restored to him twofold. He had more children You He had twice what he had before all this went on with God and with, with the devil in this contest using Job to see if he would turn from the Lord.

I can’t, the Lord’s not, I don’t see Jesus raising my mother from the dead. It’s been years and years and years. But what he can do is raise a great faith in us If we turn back to him if we don’t turn away from him in these times because that’s the choice You either lean into him the way jobe did the way that they are showing thomas Even though he’s reluctant to do it He’s still with jesus in the show the way that all of us have to be we could do that We can lean into jesus or we’re going to turn away and we’re going to look for somebody to blame and that is almost always Where we put that blame on the lord when we don’t understand we get angry we get hurt You And we, and we try to show the Lord, like, you hurt me, I’m gonna hurt you, I’m gonna walk away from you.

And that’s what I did in my life. This is what St. Peter means when he says, be sober and vigilant. Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. This is why he pleads next, resist him, steadfast in faith. When bad things happen is the time to go further to the Lord, to run to the Lord, right?

Just like when, when Lazarus. died, what happened? Martha ran to the Lord. She ran to him. And that’s what we need to do. We have to run to the Lord, not turn away from him, but draw closer to him. Even in the, in our anger, in our, in our misunderstanding and in our lack of. Uh, of, of understanding our frustration and our confusion.

We still lean back to the Lord, resist him steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same suffering. You’re not alone. You’re not the only one who’s ever suffered. All of us will suffer. If you haven’t yet, you will. It’s part of being a Christian. It’s part of being life.

It’s a consequence of the fall. But what we do with that suffering makes all the difference in the world. Angela could have left me, right? Angela could have taken everything and run from me. She had every excuse in the world. She could have taken the kids, everything in her life. But she didn’t. She stayed.

She stayed in the midst of that suffering, not understanding it. And it wasn’t until years later when Deacon Jeff on a, that you’ve seen on the show, during a Christia weekend, gave a grace talk. And something he said there showed Angela that yes, you’ve had to suffer. And yes, you’re angry with God. And yes, this has been a difficult part in your life.

But look at what’s come of it. The husband you wanted is now the husband you have now i’m not perfect and she would probably say well He’s still not all the way what i’d like to have And I get it But that’s what Deacon Jeff kind of showed her was like now you’ve got what you wanted and yes You had to go through terrible things to be able to receive that and to get that and to have that.

The suffering is is not for anything. It was through the suffering that the Lord restores. And that’s what he finishes saying here. St. Peter finishes saying he says resist him steadfast in faith Knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings and after you have suffered a little while The, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

That’s what he did for me in that jail cell after my mother’s death. That’s what he did for Angela in our relationship after the sufferings that I caused our family. He will do the same thing for you. But you can’t turn away from them. If you do, then hopefully sometime you will turn back. My brothers and sisters, we’re all going to have to deal with hard stuff, right?

I talked to you last episode about the things I was, the desolation and all those things. You can move further away from the Lord and say, I don’t understand this. I’m trying to live for you. And why have you done this to me? And dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. Why do I feel so far from you? And if this is the way it’s going to be, I’m just going to leave.

Or we can stay and we can draw closer and we can trust and we can allow our faith grow into what it’s supposed to be. That no matter what happens in our life, Jesus is Lord. He’s Lord of everything, of the good, the bad, and the ugly. He loves us. He doesn’t want bad things to happen. It hurts his heart, as they say in the show, as he’s in that fictional part with Thomas.

He knows what it’s like. He’s experienced more suffering than you and I will ever have to in our lives. There’s no one who understands where you are in the pain and the hurt and the, and the abandonment and all those things that you may feel in your heart through whatever hard thing you’re going through right now than Jesus Christ does because the world turned away from him.

And he sat there on that cross, taking on the center of the world, through all that pain and all that suffering out of great love for you. There is no one who understands your suffering more than him. And that’s why he stands there with open arms with those nail marks. On his feet and on his hands and the in the in the stabbing the wound in his side He could have made those go away when he when he ascended But he didn’t because he wants when you come to him to see that he has wounds too That he has places of great suffering and that he has lived with them the way that we have to live with them He will walk with us through those sufferings He wasn’t lucky enough to have a lot of people walking with him through those sufferings other than his mother and John So But he’s always here for us so folks, I Hope you’ve enjoyed this this episode Again, it’s a different field doing these things by yourself but it gives me a chance to get out some of these thoughts and it’s I guess more of a talk than it is a show but Um, just know you’re not alone.

We all suffer. We all go through great trials. We always will. We’re going to have loss. We’re going to have death. We’re going to have those things. But after death, there’s always resurrection. Christ went through the Good Friday, went through Good Friday. And then we celebrate Easter. We celebrate the resurrection.

We see what comes after the darkness, what comes after the suffering. So no matter where you go in your life, no matter what happens to you, keep your eyes on that Easter Sunday. Keep your eyes on the Lord. Remember, remember, remember not to run away, but to run to him because there’s no one else that understands what you’re going through more than him.

So let’s take it a prayer in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lord Jesus, we thank you for your love. We thank you for your kindness. We thank you for your comfort in our times. Of struggle in our times of suffering lord. Sometimes we mishandle the hard things. We want to turn from you We want to blame you.

We want to be angry with you lord But we know in our hearts that you allow these things but you are not the cause of them Lord as we walk through struggles and sufferings in our lives Help us always to remember that you yourself have gone through worse struggles and sufferings than we will ever go through in our life You understand and you understand More than anyone what it’s like to go through those and that’s why you have a greater love Than anyone could possibly ever have for us through those struggles.

So lord today we give you our struggles We give you our sufferings We give you the hard things help us to handle those hard things in the right way By laying them at your feet and by growing in a greater trust and abandonment to your will In the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit.

Amen

 
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