New Pair of Eyes

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We witness a different kind of chaos in this world that we’re living in. Each day, the global news media provide us with early morning reports about bombings, disasters, starvation, murders, and more. We’ve been sitting at the table with distressing news as breakfast and we often get used to it that we do not even bother to be alarmed at all.

Amid the chaos it is truly challenging to find anything good in the surrounding, right? It is in times like this where we have to hold firmly to our humanity. It is indeed human nature to feel lost and out of sorts. When faced with adversity, some people may display selfishness to survive. However, there are a lot of people who display an act of kindness towards others as well. Sure, it doesn’t feel safe to let homeless people come into your own home. It also does not make you feel secure to lend strangers your phone if they ask to contact their loved ones. However, showing compassion and kindness even in the littlest things that you can do, would cause a ripple effect. Your actions, no matter how small, can be used as a springboard to help end the suffering of others.

To quote 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

May this be our guide to hold on to our faith when our vision becomes hazy. Let us choose to pick up new eyes to see wonders and more grace than the old pair did.

by Cheryl Hawkins, author of the book, Louder than Thunder

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How can a Perfect God Seemingly Stay Silent at times?

As Christians, we cry to God for help especially when we are in a great deal of pain. Suffering. The very thing that makes us question God’s goodness. Oftentimes, when we pray, we ask for a quick fix or an easy way out of the situation. When the situation does not seem to get better and what we prayed goes unanswered, we feel ignored and unheard. When we see no evidence that God was doing anything about our agony, we question and wonder if the God we believe in is cruel to allow us to suffer.

God indeed promised us in Jeremiah 33:3 that when we call unto him, he will answer and show us great and mighty things in which we do not know.

We might ask ourselves, what happened to this promise?

In the same passage, God had made it clear that he will show us great and mighty things in which we do not know. As finite beings, we cannot comprehend the reasoning of our omnipotent God. No man can withstand seeing God’s plan in advance. It must be revealed daily.

Written in 1 John 5:14-15:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

God does not want us to suffer. He longs to help us. This is through the process of being made into the image of Jesus Christ. He is our ultimate example of balancing well between divine faith and human feelings, so we become more like Him. While we were hurting and begging for help, He did not turn a blind eye to us. I believe it took Him every bit of restraint to not step in and remove our pain. Just like a father, God loves us way too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time and the right way.

by Cheryl Hawkins

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Why God Allows Suffering?

Have you ever questioned God’s existence and capabilities?

In times of crisis, where we have nothing left but to hold on to faith, we tend to be very impatient. We fervently pray in the first few moments and ask God to deliver us from our agony. However, when God seems silent and our prayers go unanswered, we tend to take matters into our own hands and dare to question God’s existence.

Remember that quote people always throw around, “God does not give us more than what we can handle.” from 1 Corinthians 10:13? Well, I believe there are times where He allows more. Hurt after hurt. Pain after pain. Disappointment after disappointment. Tragedy after tragedy. We have witnessed people that have dealt pain far more than they can handle. In fact, this is biblical as well.

In 2 Corinthians 1: 8-9, Apostle Paul wrote:

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

The thing is, God does not want nor does He expects us to handle this on our own. He wants us to surrender ourselves and hand it over to Him instead of relying more on our own strength. To save us from a life where we are self-reliant. As human beings, we must acknowledge the truth of our insufficiency.

When we hit the place in our lives where we finally realize that some things are truly more than what we can handle, may we all remember to submit ourselves before God. In this, we’ll find comfort that He has been using all the broken pieces for our own good even if we are not able to fully comprehend the logic behind it. Let’s enjoy the journey through which we can gain a little more strength for what God sees we’ll need once we reach the top.

by Cheryl Hawkins

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Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has made the news on August 23-31, 2005 as a Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane that cost a thousand fatalities and damage costing $125 billion. It was tied as the costliest natural disaster in US history.

It was first monitored on August 23, as a tropical depression. Over the next two days, the designation of Hurricane Katrina was detected and it made landfall between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida as a Category 1 hurricane. It then rapidly intensified as it passes the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  The next afternoon, Katrina became one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record and made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on the 29th of August. A storm surge of more than 26 feet high occurred slamming the coastal areas of Gulfport and the Mississippi rivers.

In New Orleans, officials believed they have dodged a bullet for missing Katrina’s direct hit of intense winds. Not long after, the levee system broke due to Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. By the afternoon of August 29, 20% of the city was underwater. A mandatory evacuation was then ordered by New Orleans’ mayor. As the levee system continued to give way, the remaining residents who were not able to leave their homes dealt with a city that is 80% underwater by August 30, 2005.

There were shortages of food and clean water which caused some lootings in the neighborhoods. It was not until September 2 that military presence was provided to mobilize the distribution of food and water.  As recovery began, donations from other countries were coming in and the levees were rebuilt. The population of New Orleans then fell by 29% between the fall of 2005 and 2011.

A decade after, flaws in the construction of the levees and flood protection system were acknowledged.  Since then, New Orleans allocated $15 billion in federal funds to increase the heights of earthen berms and upgrade the floodwalls and floodgates. The city was successful in making improvements with its defenses as it held the Category 4 Hurricane Ida in August 2021.

by Cheryl Hawkins

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