Known in the Gates: Part 1, Not Forgotten

For those of us around when the iconic movie of the 1985, The Breakfast Club, came out, we probably asked ourselves which character we liked the best.  Was it the one called Sporto, the jock?  Carl, the criminal?  Brian, the brain?  Molly Ringwald’s character, the princess?  Or maybe it was the outcast gal in black?  (what was her name?)  Here’s a little refresher with the song that still gets my heart rate going, my feet tapping!  How about you?

This is one of those songs that once you hear it, you won’t be able to get it out of your head for about a day!  Sorry.  I really like this song!  I really liked the movie too.  The character that resonates with me these days is Allison Reynolds played by Ally Sheedy.  If you don’t want to watch all of the clip below, kindly forward to the scene in progress around the 5:00 to 6:15-minute mark.  It’s where she confesses her deepest sorrow:

Yes, I get this type of sorrow.  Try being sick with a serious illness for coming up on 4 years and see who remembers your name?  See who identifies with your struggles?  See who bothers to ask, who bothers to call?  The numbers have dwindled for me for sure.  I have kept in touch with my closest friends from Illinois and made new friends in the recovery-from-this-or-that communities online.  My beloved husband (whom I met then married here in Indiana), Steve, has hung in there through with me the worst of the torment, the lifestyle changes, the failed treatments, and the thousand-plus nights with disrupted sleep.  (Watch these videos if you want to know what I am talking about.)  Some folks I know have graciously followed this blog through it all.  Thank you!  I am always delighted when I hear from one or two of them now and then.  Nice.  Well sort of.  It’s just not the same . . .

There is a place where I am known very well and keep in close contact.  There is a place where I have not been abandoned, ignored, discounted.  The place where I matter most and my closest companion is always there, always here with me.  That place is in the arms of my Heavenly Father through my personal relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ.  He never forgets about me!  I savor His words He speaks of me (and you too, Gentle Reader) from Psalm 139:

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Oh how I wish I knew these words as a young woman when I first saw The Breakfast Club!  What matters now is that I get to lean on these words all of the time now in the quiet, dark places I have visited when alone with my Lord.  He has never forgotten about me.  I have always felt His presence even in my greatest hours of suffering.  He has spoken through the Holy Spirit often.  I have never felt “lonely.”  The Creator of the universe loves me!  I am so grateful.

But how well does he really know me?

To be continued in Part 2 . . .

It depends on . . .

Don’t you just “love” when you ask what appears to you to be a focused question and the person to whom you are speaking starts his or her answer with, “It depends on . . .”  Yeah, I have heard that a lot lately as I discuss product specs for my new company, Two Step Solutions.  My husband is a brilliant mechanical engineer and a bit more focused than me, I guess.  There is so much to consider so it depends on this or that parameter, application, material, use, and so on.  Yet this reply can be a bit maddening too, ya know?  :}]

Enter here a somewhat unusual perspective on the somber topic of suffering.  I would have never wanted to hear a blanket answer as to how to handle my own private hell.  I understand that Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale gently take an “it depends on”  approach in their new book, Why Suffering.  They recognize that for Christians, suffering poses both intellectual and emotional challenges:  God loves and cares about all of our needs yet desires to meet us amidst the unique circumstances in which we find ourselves in as well.  Here are some further insights from Vince Vitale in the Fall 2014 Issue of RZIM:  Quarterly News, Views, and Insights.

But while pain can be a great obstacle (to belief in Christ), it is also one of the greatest reasons to turn to God.  The more seriously we take the problem of suffering — indeed, the more seriously we take the people who suffer — the more we will be led to trust the God who can do something about it.

The challenge, I find, is that what each person needs when suffering is very personal.  There is no one-size-fits-all . . .  Ultimately, what we need is the presence of a loved one.  And when we have the chance to be that loved one for another, our temporary presence can act as an invitation to a life with the One who is always present.  One of the greatest gifts of the Christian life is that you never need to wonder if a loved one is near; you never need to wonder if a loved one understands.  That Person is always with you even within you.

While suffering can be traced back to humanity’s fall into sin, Jesus is clear that we cannot assume from the fact that a person is suffering that it is their fault or that they are being punished.  A second distinctive of the Christian response to suffering is this:  God promises that one day He will wipe away every tear.  What an amazing claim, that God himself will wipe away our tears.

And perhaps most unique is that the Christian God chose to suffer with us.  Suffering’s greatest cruelty is its isolation.  The Christian never suffers alone.  (We point) emphatically to the Cross of Jesus Christ, to the Cross of the only God loving enough to suffer with us and for us.  (p. 7)

May these words encourage you or your loved ones who are suffering.  While the experience of suffering is unique to each of us, we are not alone in our time of need.  God takes our angst seriously, suffers with us, and will deliver us one day.  My prayer is that you will seek comfort in the person of Jesus Christ who loves you more than anyone, more than you can ever imagine.  His Scripture reassures us this fact in Psalm 139:17-18:

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

And that’s way more than my words can say.  Take care Gentle Reader and do let me know how I may pray for you, k?  JJ

Psalm 139 17 18