Stronger Cord

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Support bolsters up strength. Nature teaches us this truth. Look at a huge tree able to weather the storms and seasons because it has many deep roots holding it in place. Look at a fruit, unencumbered by winds, it is held tightly to the branch. Look at the birds flying in v-shape, they preserve their energy and are able to fly high and cover long distances because they fly together. Look at herds of wild animals, they can protect themselves because they eat and sleep together. Look at how science try to devise better and stronger materials by designing composite technologies. By combining materials together, a stronger material is created. Look at how bridges and other structures could hold such huge weights over them because they use several beams to hold weights together. They say the “I” or the “H” beams are specially strong and resilient to stresses and strains because the beams when put together in this shape could hold up incredible weights. Picture out then a single beam no matter how strong or solid it may be. Surely, a single beam would just topple down under loads of heavy weight.

Humans too would easily fall down without the hand of another. No matter how self-sufficient or independent we are, life will hand us a lesson on our need for interdependence and interrelatedness. No one can stand alone. The strength never lies in a single person. Strength lies in unity. Strength lies in combined efforts and support.

This brings to mind the story of Moses and Joshua in Exodus 17:8-13 where the Israelites fought against the Amalekites. While Joshua and his men were fighting, Moses, Aaron, and Hur stayed on top of the hill. Moses stood on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hand. When Moses raises his hand, Israel wins but the moment he lowers his hand, the Amalekites start to win. Then, Moses grew exhausted. So what did Aaron and Hur do? They supported Moses.

But Moses’ hands were heavy; so they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset. Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”

– Exodus 17:12-13 (WEB)

Israel defeated the Amalekites that day not because of one man. They gained victory not because of a single person. They won because they all supported one another. Most especially was how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms when he was too weary to raise them on his own.

A threefold cord is not quickly broken. The verses on Ecclesiastes quickly came to my mind as I praise the Lord for my “praying” friends.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls, and doesn’t have another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one keep warm alone? If a man prevails against one who is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

– Ecclessiastes 4:9-12 (WEB)

These past 2 weeks had been quite a difficult battle for my family. We went through “the flu” and it was scary. I called it “the flu” because we were not sure if we had the usual flu or if covid already ravaged us because we did not take swab test for fear of the lock downs and isolation that it brings. But, the symptoms and the sickness sent us questioning if we could live through it or survive it as fear settled when we hear cases of people dying in our City because of covid or covid complications.

But this is a story of victory, hope, and goodness. It is in these moments of hardship and life and death experience that we have realized all the more how support of others, from friends and family, brings mental and emotional strength. It is like a potion of healing. I call them my “praying friends” because they prayed for us in hard-core faith, tenacity, and persistence. God taught me, more than ever, how we need each other and how simple “how are yous” could spark life and motivation. I praise God for their daily encouragements and messages. There were days when my husband and I were already doubting if we could surpass the ordeal because it does not seem to go away, but every time we receive their messages and their care, we also receive hope and strength.

Never step back from the opportunity to encourage, pray, and help others. Especially in these difficult times, many people need a word of comfort. There is power in your simple care. There is strength in your support no matter how small it may seem to you. It has tremendous effect. Aaron and Hur were just two persons standing at Moses’ sides and holding up his arms. Not an extravagant or extraordinary act, it may seem. But it was their simple act that led Israel to victory.

My “praying friends”, it was all your small acts of care that led us to victory. I praise God for each of your life.

Love to the Tiniest Details

Genuine care is demonstrated through attention. The kind of attention they call focused attention. I would sometimes marvel how a thoughtful friend could pick up specific clues such as my favorite food, favorite color I like, a book genre I prefer or even how I feel just by conversing with me for a time even without me disclosing things directly. Some people can catch significant things even when we don’t tell them outrightly or even when we do not reveal to them certain things about us. They are able to do this because they pay attention. They give focused attention. They listen. They see with eyes open. They are concerned of the other person at that moment more than they are about themselves. They care for the other person and it shows by how much they listen and how much they are attentive of how the other person feels or what the other person thinks.

How do you feel when someone appears to be listening but could not even remember the last words you said? It feels like the person do not care at all. It hurts to realize that because it is not a loving act. Care is other-centered and that is what we get from God. God’s care for us is based on His perfect love because He is perfect and because He is love. Because His love is perfect, His care for each person is pure and full. He listens completely. He loves fully. He gives in great generosity. He forgives lavishly. He provides sufficiently. He saves freely. He gives attention to us like no other. His attention is encompassing. It is complete. It is perfect. It is always on time. It is always gentle and gracious. His thoughts are always to show love to mankind. He is never selfish. He is the greatest Giver.

But you, Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth.

– Psalm 86:15 (WEB)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only born Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.

– John 3:16-17 (WEB)

When God gives attention, it is focused and perfect that it covers even the tiniest details about us. It is the attention of love. His attention is like a powerful microscope delving into anything that even our eyes could not normally see. His attention never draws away. It never lacks. It never weakens. It never fails. His perfect love would not dictate less than that. He cares for all and He cares about everything in our life.

“Aren’t two sparrows sold for an assarion coin? Not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore don’t be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows.”

– Matthew 10:29-31 (WEB)

Do we even care for the number of hairs we have? Unless we fear growing bald, we start caring for how much hair there is on our head. God is completely attentive to us that He has numbered even the hairs on our heads. Jesus is saying in this verse that God cares for a sparrow no matter how cheaply they are sold. God leads them and protects them according to His will. And then Jesus declared this wonderful truth — as God holds each sparrow’s life so He holds our life dearly that even the very hairs of our head are numbered! WE ARE WORTH MORE THAN MANY SPARROWS. Therefore, God cares greatly for us. We are valuable to God. Jesus then counsels us, “Don’t be afraid” (v.31).

If God so holds us under His Sovereignty with such keen attention to every detail, as minute as our hairs, is there reason to fear? No, it is a reason to be confident in God. It is a reason to be strong in the power of His might. It is a reason to trust in God’s wisdom and timing. It is a reason to remain firm in His perfect love for us.

When doubts come knocking and troubles make it hard for you to see God’s love, remember He even cares to number your hairs. So, God would care for everything else in your life because you are of more value than many sparrows. Don’t be afraid.

Needing the Physician

You only call for a doctor when you accept that you need one. There are people who do not like to see a doctor or call for medical help thinking that their sickness would go away after some days. There are also people who don’t call for the doctor because they think they are not really sick. There are the ones too who are simply afraid of the idea of going for check up even when they feel that something is wrong with their body. Regardless of the reason, one common factor stands out — they do not believe they are sick enough to be helped by a doctor. It is not the absence or lack of doctors that cause the problem but the inability to admit and to accept that they need help.

We treat our spiritual life much the same way as we do with our physical condition. We don’t go to the Physician unless we start realizing, accepting, and admitting that something is wrong with us and that we need fixing which we can’t do on our own. Oftentimes, we do not call on God to fix us because we do not see the truth that we need fixing. We do not call on God to heal us because we do not see the need to be healed from our sins. We refuse to go to God to change us and make us new because we could not accept the fact that we are sinners.

God tells us in the Bible that we are all sinners and because of sin we need Him. He is the only way to life, to redemption, to restoration, and healing. The cure to sin is Jesus. He is the Great Physician.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

– 1 John 1:8-9 (WEB)

But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

– Romans 5:8 (WEB)

None of us is too good for others. The Pharisees questioned Jesus why he sat down with the tax collectors and sinners.

“When the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’”

– Matthew 9:11 (WEB)

Tax collectors who were Jews were hated by their fellow Jews because they serve the Roman empire at the expense of their own countrymen. They were equated as robbers because they kept a portion of the collected tax for themselves while the Jews had to pay for many taxes in the land. This is why the Pharisees, who see themselves as righteous and not sinners in any way, raised an eyebrow when Jesus sat and talked with “tax collectors and sinners”. But this is how Jesus responded to their evil thoughts.

When Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. But you go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, and not sacrifice’, for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

– Matthew 9:12-13 (WEB)

Self-righteousness puts down people. It exalts the self and causes division. It thinks that it is not good to associate with people who are not righteous. It sees others as sinners and sees the self as clean. Self-righteousness draws us away from God because we could not see that we need God.

God came for the sinners. Righteous people do not need God because they don’t think they need God. They think they are good and sufficient because they are “not like the others”. But the Bible tells us that none of us is better than the other. None of us is righteous.

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and doesn’t sin.”

– Ecclesiastes 7:20 (WEB)

“For we have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness is like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

– Isaiah 64:6 (WEB)

We cannot look at others when we talk of righteousness. We cannot even look within us. We do not have that right. We look to God when we desire and seek righteousness.

The church is for sinners. The church is a body of believers in Christ who were sinners but who are now living anew not by their own righteousness but by the righteousness of Jesus whose mercy brought them to light.

As believers, we should also be able to afford the same mercy to others because we were once like them. The mercy we received from God should be seen and extended to others who are not yet living in the light of God because we know we are not different from them. They need God as much as we need God. They need the Great Physician like how we need Him day to day.

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