The Suffering In Our Blue Skies

The Suffering In Our Blue Skies

Learning to listen to those in need...
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The sky is so blue today….I went for a walk and lay down in the grass to stare up at Heaven’s floor…

I wonder sometimes how I got so lucky. How am I here enjoying so much peace when I have brothers and sisters suffering deep loss not so far away.

They’re really not that far….6,142 miles, actually.

15 hours.

As I’m writing this it is 9:14 P.M. in Syria—yet the sky is so blue here.

And who knows what they’re experiencing in their minds.

What would it be like to live in that kind of constant fear?

This past week I was inwardly frustrated.

Selfishly so—not because of the news. God has been teaching me forgiveness lately and helping me find inward peace about certain situations. I feel that He has taught me so much about what it means to find personal freedom in forgiveness....and yet this week as I sought out closure I grew frustrated at the strong lack of it.

And then God gave it to me straight.

Today, he told me to open my computer.

A strange request, but I opened it up. On my screen was an article that I had left unread because I had been in a hurry. It was about the chemical attack in Syria.

I played the video on the screen and watched as a man conveyed his story of complete loss… this brave brother was forced to grieve the loss of 22 family members just days ago. Among them were his wife and two babies.

But I’m sure you’ve heard this already.

He began to sob as he asked the reporter, “What did they do?”

Those words rang in my ears. His family was innocent and yet all of them met death for no reason.

My personal suffering, my pain, is nothing—NOTHING compared to that kind of loss...I wake up to blue skies.

This kind of injustice turned my insides over and I grew angry. Hurt. Desperate for hope. As I cried tears of grief—tears that don’t compare to the anguish of my Father—I cried out to God and asked Him:

"What can we do?"

And He responded:

"Open your Bible."

Guys, it’s Easter...and I forget that this is the season that we remember the greatest injustice ever committed….This is what I read:

“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)....And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit…” (Matthew 27).

Jesus deserved none of that pain and yet,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5).

And this is where we find our hope.

I cried out to God today and He turned my face towards His words of comfort and light. Words that I too often keep to myself. This is our tool, our weapon for peace.

I have been praying lately about what to study at school and what purpose my eventual degree will serve.

And as God opened my eyes to his suffering children, and returned me to His book of hope, I was reminded that yes, this world needs experts in business or science or education. Of course, we need doctors and economists and teachers. After all, He did gift us for a purpose, but first and foremost the world needs all of us to be experts on peace…

And hope.

And love.

The world desperately needs us to come out of hiding and share this secret that we keep to ourselves. They need us to read our Bibles every. Single. Day.

They need us to prove through our actions that the God we serve really is good and just and gracious and loving.

They need us to pray for them and offer ourselves to God on their behalf.

We need to stop silencing God’s Spirit that lives in us and begin to act for the sake of the suffering.

Keep listening to these stories of pain from across the world. These stories are our stories.

To stay active in these stories of pain, or give to the cause, please check out World Relief, Preemptive Love, and Relevant Magazine.

The things that these three organizations have taught me, lead ultimately to a heart of love. Let’s join them as we watch in awe of the work God is doing through each one of them….and let’s learn from them.

Learn the stories. Make them our own. Ask God to teach you His heart for the world.

And let’s love deeply so that we may share the hope of our blue skies.

Cover Image Credit: Pexals

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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What A Blessing It Is To Have Been Loved By A Grandpa Like You

No one could ever replace your contagious giggle and radiating love.

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To my newest angel in heaven...

Grandpa Norb, I just wanted to write to you to let you know how great it is to be loved by a grandpa like you. With 4 children, 4 children in-law, 10 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, we all know in our different ways your love for us. While you are no longer here, I am certain that you will always be watching over us and in our hearts.

Knowing you for 20 years, I can't imagine feeling more loved. Every holiday gathering started with you wishing a Merry Christmas, no matter the actual holiday. You always welcomed with a hug, and said goodbye with open arms, a kiss on the cheek and a whispered reminder that I am always in your prayers. Even with you no longer with us, I know you'll be watching over and praying for me as I carry on my steps in life.

Like a sunflower, you were always bright and smiling when I saw you. You showed your excitement when I walked in the room and made me feel lucky to be around you and overjoyed to know you just through your smile. You were the patriarch of our wonderful family standing tall and showering us with radiating love and goofiness.

Among us all, you loved Grandma with your whole heart and were married for 68 beautiful years. Watching her say goodbye has been one of the hardest things to see, but completely overpowering, the love you had for each other. As long as I knew you, I don't think I ever saw the two of you apart. The unconditional love that you had and always will feel for each other is one that I envy to have in my own relationships.

As almost two weeks have passed since God brought you to him, this is my goodbye to you. I will never forget the last good day I spent with you and Grandma together. I will think of you when I see yellow sunflowers standing tall and bright, and during thunderstorms as if it is you Grandpa Ray bowling together up in heaven.

I feel incredibly lucky to know you and have been loved by you for 20 of your 94 years, and I will always miss you.

Love,

Blondie.

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