Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Devotional Reading 090211

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I wished I had brought my camera with me. The San Francisco Bay is so beautiful as I look out from my office. The view of the city and Bay bridge is crystal clear along with a bright blue sky. It is indeed spectacular! Thank God for giving us life to enjoy this wonderful playground that He created for us – our Planet Earth. God uses this earthly experience to point us to something even greater and incredible in the life to come. What a blessing we are to be in the family of God today and forever. Amen.

Most of the time people are able to keen up a good front and appear and often feel confident and satisfied with life. Our society seems to demand and reward this kind of self-sufficiency. But behind the human mask are often pain and hurt which make it possible to experience real confidence and satisfaction in life only by KNOWING that a loving God is there. 1 have found some people who reach this reality through the Church and the rituals that express it in action, and others who have come to it through the practice of meditation. Neither of these ways, however, is easily available to many individuals today, who have lost the reality of the belief system. The experience of recovering it is not one I would wish for any of us, but in all my reading and personal experience I have found no alternative for those who come face to face with a meaningless universe. You can then keep your guard up and perhaps risk going to pieces, or else you must allow yourself to become like the seed and be opened up to new life.

Working with people at all levels of our society has brought home to me how often the greatest misery and pain occur along with great wealth. These people have no outer problems important enough to keep their attention diverted from the emptiness of their own being. With no outer problems, they are exposed to the reality of the inner or spiritual world. They feel as though they are naked and alone and are usually guided only by fear of what might be found if they looked within for meaning. This is the reason for making almost a fetish of bridge clubs and bingo parties. If one is busy enough it isn’t necessary to look within. Anyone who is stripped in this way and forced to look inward usually faces fear and agony. Like solitary confinement, this exposes us to the depth of our own blackness. We often find whatever meaning we have known disintegrating; there is fear of finding only a void, fear of death and dissolution (particularly in this time when so few people see any place for an after-life), and the threat of condemnation.

In working with college students, particularly over the past six years. Have found that their neurotic problems spring far more often from a refusal to deal with religious reality than from ordinary pathology. For them neurosis is often the “sacred illness that forces them to seek meaning. Few of them have suffered any other trauma than comfortableness. Their pain and suffering result from being cut off, for one reason or another, from their religious roots. Many of them are aware of their need for meaning, and they are usually perceptive enough to realize that they will not find it until they encounter a new level of inner reality. Some of them are willing to take the time and effort for the inner way, rather than merely shopping around for an easier behavioral answer to their problem.

Indeed, sickness in all forms is one of the most common ways unconscious need shows up in our society today. With all the improvements in medical treatment, a larger percentage of people require care for illness than ever before. Repressed fear and anxiety can interfere with our resistance to bacteria or to cancer cells and can literally destroy our bodies in dozens of ways. Medicine has come to recognize the deadly potential of this kind of stress.

There is no more effective way for Christians to realize their own needs and to help deal with the needs of others than by sharing in the work of healing. They can do this, first by knowing their own fears and anxieties and helping others to become aware that they have these emotions, and then by helping to reveal and share the base of real meaning which gives people the security and courage to deal with fear rather than letting it build up in unconscious tensions. In the process, some healing miracles do happen, and sometimes this process also gives an individual gradual healing. As people face and handle their problems, they often find complete health of body, mind and soul. By using prayer and meditation much as the early Church did to bring hope and healing to people, we open both ourselves and others to the healing reality of the loving God…In addition, the medical profession is suffering today from more than a century of separating physical healing from its spiritual and emotional base. As a profession, doctors themselves show more problems with drugs and alcohol, neurosis and divorce, as well as a higher suicide rate, than any other profession…The detached medical attitude does not work very well when a doctor must deal constantly with human misery and suffering and fear of death. The patient is not satisfied and the doctor develops unconscious guilt. On the other hand, the physicians who relate to patients with empathy and understanding need some belief in a pervading meaning to it all—some experience of the Other who gives meaning when nothing else does—if they are to deal with these things day after day and not go under themselves.

If our need for meaning is to open us up to the reality that can give this meaning, however, first of all it has to be recognized. Whether one is a doctor or a theologian, lawyer or politician, or simply a layperson who depends on these Other human beings for an approach to the realities of life, the first step is simply to acknowledge that one has tried to depend just on human resources and that this leaves a great deal to be desired.

I appreciate the transparency of this writer who shared about his own healing experience from depression, and how prayer and meditation pointed him back to the Greatest Healer of his body and soul. I cannot agree more with his observation. In my own pastoral ministry and personal growth as a Christian, I am fully convinced that body, soul and spirit are one interconnected being. If we separate them in dealing with our health problem, we will not experience a sustaining recovery. Our physical and psychological illness may remind us of a deep seated need for spiritual healing – this healing can only be experienced by first recognizing our needs for God’s help, and secondly by abandoning our souls and spirit to His surgery (His cut and mold in making us whole again). There is no quick fix “spiritual surgery.” It takes place daily and gradually in our soul as we return to Him with expectation in prayer and meditation. In another word, reading a short devotional like Daily Bread, is not good enough. It takes time to allow the Holy Spirit to do His surgery within us. The Bible said, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Word of God is truly an invasive and intrusive procedure to bring healing to our whole being. And this healing God happens to be our Loving Heavenly Father, who operates in us with His tender loving kindness. Praise the Lord!!

Sharing from the same healing in Christ,

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