MISSED YOUR BUS? BE GRATEFUL!

One can either be grateful or ungrateful, but is it possible to have a cocktail of both?

Well, there are instances when one can be gratefully ungrateful or ungratefully grateful. It depends on how one wishes to interpret such episodes.

Have you ever felt thankful for that heavy downpour because of which you could have a day off from work? There you go – you have at least once instance of being ungratefully grateful!! That rain which clogged roads and may well have been a barrier for some others, was indeed welcomed by you!

In my Post Graduation years, I had to take the intercity bus for a 30 km ride each day to the University and the same distance back again. Classes would invariably be over by 5 P.M. every day. I had four other friends for company (which made the travel a little less difficult). Bus-hunting was a daily routine. Buses did stop by the bus stop at intervals. But, we looked for less crowded buses to board (crowded buses are nightmares for all – but a lot more for females). Also, there were buses which had conductors who were reluctant to give the student fare concession. In this way we had certain criteria.

One fine evening, we had been waiting at the bus stop for more than 40 minutes without any of our familiar buses stopping by. Eventually, when one did come, it was jam-packed. My friends decided to board it anyway as there was no surety of another one coming by anytime soon. I was too reluctant – to the point that I asked them to leave if they wished to and that I would wait for some more time for a less crowded bus. One of them already had a foot on the bus and another had a had on the door railing ready to board. But, seeing my stubborn reluctance, they returned (wonderful companions) and so all five of us waited desperately for another bus to come by soon.

It was another 15-minute wait before we boarded a bus, much to our relief! The long frustrating wait of a humid summer day finally came to an end. We had hardly been seated for 20 minutes, that people began curiously looking out of the windows. I could hear the word ‘accident’ from the many voices that were commenting animatedly on the view outside. Just then, a passenger seated behind me gestured outside and said, “the bus which you were reluctant to board, but your friends were insisting, has met with an accident.” I was stunned as the information sank in! There was no loss of lives, though. The driver had lost control and the bus had skidded off the road and had rammed into a building nearby.

The passenger who gave me this piece of information had also been waiting for a bus at the bus stop and had been overhearing and watching the little drama that had unfolded among the five of us (you are being watched without your knowledge – beware!) much to his amusement, and had later got on the same bus as I and my friends did. “Had you all got into that bus, you would have met with an accident today”, he added.

I was so grateful to God that day! I had been ungratefully grumbling within myself as to why the bus that came after a long time had to be so crowded that we couldn’t board it. I also felt a bit guilty when my friends let the bus go only to stay back for me. But now, I was grateful beyond words!

I was grateful for the delay. I was grateful for the crowded bus. I was grateful that my friends got delayed because of me. I was grateful for all those events of that hour and a half, for which I had felt so ungrateful, minutes before.

Truly, there are events that come by unplanned, unasked for and entirely undesirable. But, when we put two and two together, the picture becomes quite understandable.

Since I firmly believe that each and every event in our lives happens under God’s sovereign control, I also believe that those people or events in our lives for whom/ which we are most ungrateful are the ones for whom/ which we will be grateful in the long run (only if we perceive our lives in their entirety and not in fragments).

PRESERVE YOUR NECTAR

Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago. Blessed with a lovely family consisting of his wife and five children (four daughters and a son), Spafford had all that one would desire. It was then that tragedy struck. His two-year old son died of pnemonia. As he was grieving over this loss, the same year (1871), the great Chicago fire swallowed up much of his business. Gathering much courage, Spafford started rebuilding his business. But the economic downturn of 1873 further hit his business. He changed his plans to travel to Europe with his family – sending them first, promising to join them soon. As the ship carrying his wife and children was crossing the Atlantic, it collided with another sea vessel. All four of his daughters died in the mishap. Only his wife was rescued and she sent Spafford the telegram – “Saved alone.” Spafford hurried to meet his grieving wife saying, “The Lord gave and he has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” As his ship came to the place where his daughters had died, he penned a wonderful hymn which has been a source of encouragement for many, over the years. The first few lines read as follows –

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

(The hymn can be heard in the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKPvBV4xqVw )

Joseph Scriven was a man born in Ireland in an affluent family and received good education. In course of time, he fell in love with a lady. However, the day before their wedding she fell from her horse, while crossing a bridge in the River Bann and was drowned in the water below. All this, as Scriven stood watching from the other side of the river! In an effort to overcome his deep sorrow, Joseph left Ireland and shifted to Canada as a 25-year old, where he was much loved by the people for his helpful ways. In course of time, he again fell in love. However, tragedy struck again and his lady-love died of pneumonia shortly before they could wed. Scriven devoted the rest of his life to helping the poor and the needy. In order to comfort his ailing mother who lived in Ireland and was broken at her son’s ordeals, he wrote a poem which was later converted into a hymn and has been a source of comfort and strength to many. A few lines of the hymn read thus –

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

(The hymn can be heard in the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SCorW9r_Is )

Friends, may be you have been where Spafford and Scriven have been and that has made you bitter – at yourself, at family, friends, society. Maybe your life events have not been of this type – but harsh, nevertheless. How has your response been?

It is easy to be bitter and remain bitter. If we turn around and observe people around us, we will notice that each one has a heavy burden to make him/her bitter – only the nature may be different (some born without fully grown limbs, some widowed within a day of marriage, some stricken with terminal illness, some battling marital separation, failures, poverty, etc.)

Let’s remember –

  • Each of us has ample scope to be bitter.
  • To remain bitter or overcome is a choice that has to be made.
  • A bitter spirit depletes the body and numbs the soul.
  • Forgiveness is a powerful weapon that defeats bitterness.
  • Accepting the Sovereignty of God plays a crucial role in coming to terms with bitterness.
  • Counting the numerous other blessings enables to shift focus from the bitterness-causing losses.

If you have been struck with life events that threaten to make you bitter, don’t allow these events/circumstances to suck the nectar out of you. Look unto God – the radiant source of Strength, Grace, Mercy, Love, Peace and Joy and with His power be an overcomer!

 

 

 

 

 

SIMMERING SUMMERS

Illumination in passionate animation,

Lashing out in sweltering oppression,

Merciless and without showing consideration,

The sun’s rays are spread out as if with a vengeful ambition,

Penalizing the earth for perfecting its annual routine of revolution.

 

Year after year as the temperatures soar,

The lush green earth becomes parched and sore,

Disrobing itself of all its glamour and décor,

It yearns feebly for a cumulonimbus thunder roar,

Hoping to quench its thirst from a heavy downpour.

 

Poor farmers sigh deep with hands on their heads,

Wherefrom would they make provisions for their daily bread?

Loaners’ knocks they frightfully dread,

Painful tears they wistfully shed,

With deep chagrin they find no way but to hang their heads.

 

Shady trees with their boughs weighing with fruits,

Have been plucked up from their very roots,

Humans with their ambitious pursuits,

Have contributed to making the global climate so very acute,

As if not enough, the environment we continue to pollute.

 

The affluent in their air conditioned homes, offices and cars,

May not get many of the scorching heat’s scars,

Just thinking of the slum dwellers and daily wagers,

One wish arises – can there not be any climate changers,

To bring respite to all despite their financial statuses?

 

The result of man’s ill-deed or a curse from God,

Or both it seems would get the responsibility nod,

Doling out summer freebies with a wand and a rod,

Continuous perspiration along with dry lips and throat,

Whacking the life out of men and beast both.

 

No matter how hard we now campaign,

Climate change poses an irreversible pain,

Melting glaciers and rising sea levels,

Make the earth look pale and disheveled,

Threatening to create havocs – much to the glee of the devil.

 

As we bask in the luscious shades of our homes,

May we not forget to show kindness to the hapless vagabonds,

The vehemence of the summer we cannot reduce,

But we can surely hand them over a glass of juice,

To douse their thirst and to relief induce!

 

Summers are blessings in the seasonal wheel,

So that no one does moist and frozen reel,

The beauty of it however is now under a seal,

With languishing calls to relief feel,

And for the body mind and soul to rise and heal.

(P.S. Written as a reflection on Indian summers)

SETTING YOUR G.P.R.S

Few days back I was counseling someone & I found a very strange & dubious statement from her. Her story goes like this. She was in love since her college days, even though both of their families were against of their relationship. Still they continued in their relationship with complete faithfulness & hope. After 8yrs of love relationship they got married legally in the presence of their family members. Now they are living as a beautiful couple having all needs and wants fulfilled in their life. They belong to a higher middle class family, holding high-qualification and high-profile work & all other credentials that a couple wishes ever. As I look into their life, I always say, “What more have you left behind my dear couple? You both are holding everything in your hands!”

But during my counseling she uttered a line with a quite different smile, which still rings in my mind – “MY LIFE HAS BECOME A HELL”. This statement of hers was a great shock for me. I had never thought of it before. As I was counseling her I found that, behind their successful love marriage life there were a lot of sacrifices which both of them had made, even both of their families had. But still her life is hell! “WHY???”

The Bible gave me a beautiful answer, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure”. That so true, even though this beloved couple have everything they wished, still their life has become a hell and the fact of the matter is, “their hearts have deceived them not they!” God provided them all their hearts wanted but at the end their hearts only deceived them which is beyond cure by any human being. “But GOD CAN PROVIDE THE CURE!!!

When I looked for the answer to the why & how heart deceives us. I found these answers:

  1. BROKEN RELATIONSHIP:

It does not refer to the broken relationship with human beings but it’s our broken relationship with God – Our Creator. As children, we ask God whatever we wish and being a loving generous Father (Our Creator God) He provides us everything. But after getting all these blessings we forget God. We start enjoying our blessings forgetting the God who blessed us – “Our blessing blurs our eyes”. We enjoy our lives in our ways instead of seeking His will and His plan. Life is a journey which never goes on a single straight way. Surely there will be challenges and difficulties and heart breaks. So when these sort of challenges pop up in our lives as a self-centered children with less knowledge about future we try to put our own strengths and own ideas to overcome the challenge instead of seeking God’s purpose behind the challenge. We use our Emotions, Worldly knowledge, Moral values & Physical strength which ultimately make our lives more miserable. We become like “Travellers in a strange land struggling without GPRS”.

We must always remember that, our heart is such which is never satisfied and always deceives with our own ideas which are of course dealt with emotions. So we need to remember that, if we believe God and consider ourselves as the workmanship of God and whatever comes to our life is for our own good, then we cannot be deceived by our heart. And to remember this thing we need to stay connected with our Creator God (Who acts as GPRS in our life instructing us where and how to go & not).

  1. “I” PLAN:

Every religion says, we are the workmanship of God created with a well-tuned plan for a particular PURPOSE with a certain time-limit. Along with that, challenges are obvious and definite in human life. And when these challenges come into our lives in different forms we can overcome instead of being deceived, provided we need to have healthy relationships with God because only then we can deal with the challenges of our life wisely with knowledge and wisdom – which only comes from God not from the world. But with our own ideas if we say, “I should think like this”, “I should work like this” & “I should live like this” then being deceived by our heart and making life a hell is sure.

We must remember that, we humans work from Past to Present but God works from Future to Present. So He is always right. If we believe in Him and have complete dependence on him instead of our “I” Plans then we cannot be deceived by our heart and will not deviate from living a noble & fulfilled life.

  1. I’M FINE OF NOT FINE:

When we are deceived by our heart and make our lives hell even having all that we wished, then we start living a hesitant life. We often answer “I’m fine” to the question how are you. But still we hesitate to answer it. We utter, “I’m Fine” but actually our heart says, “Dear, actually I’m fine of not fine. Because I have walked in the way my heart guided me but see today my heart has only deceived me. I can neither show you the wounds nor can live with them”. In most of the cases this dubious standard of life addicts us to such an extent that we try to live with such ideology even in our relationship/relationships. This is just like poisoning our own selves every day. Our loneliness makes our life miserable. Every night our pillow gets wet. And at the end we find ‘Heart break’, ‘Divorce’, ‘Broken family’, & ‘Suicidal death’.

Week long we discussed on “Heart is deceitful”, which is true indeed and we are also living with that. The remedy or the precaution from “heart deceiving heart” is staying within the GPRS not the one provided by google but by GOD. And that GPRS is, “Go – Pray – Request – Seek”.

We have to GO into a time of PRAYER and make our entire REQUEST known to GOD – Our Creator and SEEK His will to work on our request instead of walking towards the direction of our deceitful heart.

Avinash Das