When Your Plans Fall Apart

A common question that we often ask one another is “do you have any plans for the weekend?”  The question assumes that with some weekend time approaching what is a person going to do with their free time.  How are they going to fill the hours, where are they going to go, and who might they be spending time with?  And of course, we have all had our weekend plans disrupted by bad weather, an unexpected illness, car problems, or some other unforeseen event.  What we had planned out for the weekend suddenly falls apart.  Yet, when our weekend goes south, we can usually recover because another weekend is only a week away.

However, there are times in our lives when some of our biggest plans fall apart that are not so easily forgotten or left behind.  When life’s plans come crashing down around you the impact can be so much greater than a rained-out weekend.  In the book of Job in the Old Testament, we have the account of a man’s life when his plans for his life completely disintegrate.  Job is a wealthy man living in a land called Uz with his large family and extensive flocks. He is “blameless” and “upright,” always careful to avoid doing evil.  In the course of one day, Job receives four messages, each bearing separate news that his livestock, servants, and ten children have all died due to marauding invaders or natural catastrophes. Job tears his clothes and shaves his head in mourning. Job is then afflicted with horrible skin sores. His wife encourages him to curse God and to give up and die.  Everything that Job had planned out for his life is now gone.  Thus, in the midst of one of his prayers Job cries out, “My days have passed, my plans are shattered.” (Job 17:11)

Shattered plans.  It happens to all of us eventually.  Life takes a turn we were not expecting and all of a sudden we find ourselves stunned, stuck by the side of the road, and uncertain of which direction to turn.  Such events leave our heads spinning and our hearts aching as we try to regroup and figure out how to move forward.  It is hard to figure out which direction to turn when you don’t even know where you are.  Nina LaCour in her book Hold Still writes about recovering after a friend’s suicide.  LaCour writes, “My room is so quiet and empty it hurts.” It hurts when we are uncertain of how to move forward when life leaves us beside the road.

As a people of faith, we are not immune from having our plans sidetracked, changed, or abandoned.  Faith does not protect us from such experiences; just look at Job.  Faith does, however, call us to trust that God has a plan for each of our lives, even when we wonder if God knows what He is doing.  Job questioned what God was up to.  And like Job, I have often wondered the same thing.  But then I am reminded of the words from scripture like Proverbs 3: 5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  In faith, we are invited to lean on God and trust that God will straighten everything out.  Now, this does not necessarily mean some kind of instantaneous fix, because we all know life can be complicated and messy.  But these words from scripture, along with many others, teach us that God is busy working out God’s plans for our lives.  When our plans fall apart, God does not.  God would tell the prophet Jeremiah, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

So, what is God’s plan for our lives?  A future with hope.  There are no certainties about how our plans will unfold in our lives.  The only certain thing, however, is that God is still in control, working behind the scenes, never leaving us to ourselves, guiding us along the way, and offering to us a future with hope.  In a world where we have to let go of our best laid out plans, let us not forget that God will never let go of us.

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Too Tired to Pray

Most people will use the excuse “I’m just too tired” to do something that needs to be done.  I’m just too tired today to mow the grass, I’ll do it tomorrow.  I’m just too tired today to complete my income taxes, I’ll do them tomorrow.  I’m must just too tired to cook tonight, I’ll just order something, and have it delivered.  I know that that there have been times in which I did not have the physical, mental, or emotional energy to do something.  Rather, being so tired, I just can’t get myself to move in any direction about anything.  We might call it being exhausted, worn out, or just empty when it comes to drawing up any kind of reserve strength.  During these times it feels as though we cannot take one more step.

Christians are not immune from such exhaustion as a result of the stresses and burdens that come with living in the world.  As Christians, we do not possess superhero like strength by which we can jump tall buildings in a single bound.  Rather, sometimes we can’t even get our feet off the ground.  Indeed, this kind of exhaustion can spill over into our spiritual life and our relationship with God.  As a result, sometimes I find myself too tired to even pray.  I don’t know what to say to God as life has left me stunned like a boxer in a ring who has just taken the blow of a sharp undercut from his opponent.  I feel stuck, dumbfounded, and speechless.

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, he acknowledged the reality of sometimes standing before God speechless where words are in short supply.  It is to these times that Paul confesses, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Even when we cannot find the words to our prayers, we have the assurance that the Holy Spirit is intervening on our behalf to communicate our silence and loss of words to our Heavenly Father.  When we are too tired to pray, the Holy Spirit can lift up our silence to God in prayer for us.  God’s Spirit searches the deepest parts of our hearts and lives and brings our needs before God.

We may be too tired to pray, but God is always alert, attentive, and aware of our deepest needs.  The prophet Isaiah would confess this truth when he said,

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)

God is never too tired to hear the prayers of his children.  Even when we are speechless, the Holy Spirit is working in our lives to bring our hearts before God.  We may become too tired to pray sometimes, but God is always active and engaged in our lives even when we are silent.  So, when life stuns us and drains us, and our spiritual gas tanks are empty, we can trust that God will not faint or grow weary, but in God’s strength God will lift us up and causes us to mount with wings like eagles.  So even when are too tired to pray, the Holy Spirit is already working on our behalf to take our weary lives and lift them to heaven.

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Stay Within the Margins

I remember in school, especially the early years when I was learning to write that it was important to stay in the margins on the notebook paper.  I don’t know if I understood what the word “margins” meant, but I did recognize I was not supposed to write past the vertical lines that went down the side of the paper.  Sometimes these lines were even a different color than the lines you wrote on.  I didn’t question it because that was the rule.  Somebody knew better than me so I didn’t cross the margin lines.

As I grew up older into my days of youth, I also learned there were margins in life that I shouldn’t cross as they could be places of trouble and danger.  Thus, there were parts of downtown that I should avoid and certain kinds of people who could be dangerous.  There were no red lines painted across town as warnings, but I had been conditioned to know where the margins were and to stay safely behind them.  Some places and some people simply could not be trusted.  Margins kept me in my place and others in their place.

In the days of Jesus, margins had been established in the Jewish religion that were there to keep you right with God and keep you from getting involved with those who might somehow affect your relationship with God.  So there were margins.  Margins between Jews and Gentiles, men and women, clean and unclean, healthy and infirmed, righteous and sinners.  These clear distinctions were there to guide you as you journeyed through your life.

But then Jesus showed up and didn’t pay attention to the margins.  Now Jesus knew the margins that existed, he just refused to write the story of his life within the margins.  As a result, Jesus crossed the margins and entered into encounters with women, Gentiles, the sick, the unclean, and even the sinners as they had been labeled.  Jesus simply disregarded the historical markers that had been set up over generations.  And as we can imagine, not everybody was happy with Jesus, but especially those who sought to maintain the margins.  Thus, Jesus was constantly condemned for going to the wrong places and hanging out with the wrong people.  Didn’t Jesus know that if he lived outside the margins then it meant he was saying that those people on the other side of the margins were equal to those who stayed on the right side of the margins?  Jesus’ answer was yes.  That is exactly what he was saying.

For Jesus, in the Kingdom of God, there are no margins or boundaries or borders that separate people into categories of worth and value.  Rather, Jesus saw the infinite worth of every individual even those who had been written off by society.  Jesus would not live within the margins because he knew that God’s love had no margins.  God’s love could not be sectioned off like a city block.  Rather God’s love was lavish and flowed in every direction.  Every person mattered to Jesus.  But he also knew that some lives didn’t matter as much in his day, and as a result, he stepped beyond the margins to where the forgotten and ignored had been left for so long.  And when those inside the margins began to say, “what about us” Jesus responded, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matthew 9: 12).  Like a medic on the battlefield, Jesus saw the greatest need and that is where he went.  Those on the margins needed a friend and the good news of God’s love right then, right there.

God invites us to live outside the margins of our world.  It is so easy to grow comfortable and complacent in the safety of the margins with others just like ourselves.  It is easy to think that if those people on the other side of the margins would just get their lives together they would be welcomed where we are.  This is not the way of Jesus nor should it be the way of his followers.  Like Jesus, we are called to cross the margins, work to remove the boundaries that have been there so long, and offer God’s love and grace to all people.

Unlike teachers who checked our papers to see if we stayed within the margins and graded us accordingly when we stand before God at the judgment, God will not look for a nice, tidy, safe life story, but a story that was willing to be lived outside the margins where the greatest needs were.  For when we minister to the “least of these” we will have ministered unto Jesus himself.  (Matthew 25: 40)  I am guilty at times of staying safe behind the margins.  However, I pray every day that God will give me a greater vision to see the world as God sees it; a wide-open world where there are no margins, but only people to be loved.





My Kingdom Come

At times in my life, I have thought to myself, “I just wish Jesus would do what I want him to do.”  Most of us as followers of Jesus struggle between living in the Kingdom of God and our kingdoms.  It seems we can do our best at times trying to get God to do what we think is best, or as Frank Sinatra might sing, “My Way.”  Although we pray as Christians in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” we often do so as long as God’s way doesn’t interfere with what we know best.

On the night when Jesus was arrested in the garden, we are told in Matthew’s Gospel that one of Jesus’ disciples drew his sword, swung wildly at Jesus’ enemies, and cut off the ear of a servant.  Immediately Jesus responded in what had to be a tense situation.  In Matthew 26: 52-54 we read, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”  Jesus’ disciple was eager to take control of the situation, make his move, dictate the action, and bring about his desired result.  This disciple had a plan, Jesus just needed to get on board.

We all have plans for our lives.  We all think we know what is best.  I know that I am quick to act, much like the disciple, sword drawn, and make my will be done.  Hopefully, Jesus will get the “point” and join me in what I know for sure is the best way forward.  “Just follow me Jesus and I’ll show you the way.”

We live in a tension between the Kingdom of God and our futile attempts to take charge, call the shots, and carry out our plans.  Jesus calls us back to himself at such times.  This is what Jesus did with his disciple.  Jesus commands his disciple to put away his sword.  Jesus also tells him that he can do the very thing the disciple wanted to do by calling down twelve legions of angels.  Instead, Jesus tells the disciple that the scriptures will be fulfilled and must happen in this way.  Jesus had submitted to living out God’s will even when there might have been an easier way.  Jesus had early on surrendered to God’s will and Jesus would be faithful to God’s Kingdom.

Every day we must surrender to God’s will.  It is a challenge as our kingdoms will always want to take charge.  But as Jesus told the disciple, we must trust in God’s will and way.  In Proverbs 3: 5-6 we read, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  We have to trust in the way of God’s Kingdom.  Even when we are tempted to take over, we must let go and trust in the One who is Lord over all things.  God’s way will always be better than my way.  I just have to put my Kingdom away and trust that God is up to the task of leading the way forward.




A New Normal: It’s Not Just About Me

As we now find ourselves several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully, we have learned some lessons along the way.  With the world turned upside down, our lives altered, and uncertainty the daily norm, these days have been fertile ground for growth in our lives.  What have we realized about ourselves, others, and life in the midst of a global pandemic?  What insights do we have now that perhaps we didn’t consider much prior to everything?

One of the lessons that I have learned or at least have been reminded of is how we are all interconnected.  Our actions and behaviors affect other people’s lives.  With the COVID virus being so contagious how we live can have huge implications on other people.  Hence, through it all, I have chosen to wear a mask and do my best to practice social distancing in order to protect those around me; family, friends, and strangers.  While there are some who feel as though things like “wearing a mask” is some kind of a violation of their freedom, I see it as an act of compassion toward others.  If my doing something might benefit another person, it just seems that it is the right thing to do.  This is especially true as followers of Jesus who taught us that loving our neighbor was one of the greatest commandments.  The apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi would speak to us of this truth when he wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 3-4) Paul simply reminded us that we are called to live lives that place the interests and needs of others above ourselves.  In fact, as Christians, we shouldn’t even need government authorities to ask us to do it; we should have already been leading by example.  I wear a mask during these days because Jesus would have worn a mask.

Mr. Rogers, who knew a little about being a good neighbor, once said, “The underlying message of the Neighborhood is that if somebody cares about you, it’s possible that you’ll care about others. ‘You are special, and so is your neighbor’ – that part is essential: that you’re not the only special person in the world. The person you happen to be with at the moment is loved, too.”  COVID-19 has reminded me that I’m not the only person in my neighborhood.  As Christians, we have a responsibility to those around us, not just because our government instructs us, but because our Lord has already told us the way to live in this world: love one another.

Hopefully, when all is said and done with COVID-19, we will not forget the lessons that we have learned and live our lives spreading a little more love to those around us and considering the needs of others before our own.  That’s the kind of living that makes a difference in the world every day.  Or as Albert Einstein would say, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”  Maybe this will be the new normal.



Finding Peace in the Pieces


Sometimes life falls apart.  Yet, you did not need me to tell you this.  We have all had those experiences which cause life to become broken; a death with its grief, sickness, unemployment, family division, depression, and disappointment which only begin the list of such things that can shatter a life.  We can suddenly find ourselves standing over the pieces of our broken lives wondering how we can ever begin to put it back together.

When life leaves us standing in the rubble it is easy for despair to settle into our hearts.  Hopelessness can find fertile soil to grow during these times and bitterness can harden our hearts.  The question becomes then how can we keep from surrendering to hopelessness and giving into bitterness?  How can we find peace in the broken pieces of our lives?  The great spiritual writer Henri Nouwen said it this way,

Our life is full of brokenness – broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives?

The key to finding peace in the pieces is to realize that God stands in the pieces with us.  God does not scatter when we shatter, but rather God remains with us no matter what our situation looks like.  God never tosses in the towel or considers it hopeless but God can take our broken pieces and bring forth something new.  Trusting then in God allows us to have peace even in the pieces of brokenness.  The prophet Isaiah would confess, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.”  (Isaiah 26:3)  When we keep our minds focused on God, even in the messiness of life, we can be grounded in the message of God’s peace.

As Jesus prepared to leave his disciples, he realized that they were troubled about what their future looked like.  Thus, in John’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)  The future seems uncertain most days for most people as we wonder what tomorrow holds.  In faith, we hold on to God’s peace, or rather it holds on to us and reminds us that we are not alone.  Indeed, life sometimes falls to pieces.  God, however, never does.  God’s peace is solid, unbreakable, and eternal.  God’s peace can always be found in life’s broken pieces.


End Road Work: Journeying with Jesus

You’re driving down the road when suddenly you see the orange sign which reads, “Road Work Ahead.”  At that moment you realize your journey is about to change.  You will have to slow down your speed, perhaps merge into one lane, drive on a rough road, or even come to a complete standstill.  The next part of your journey will be guided by orange cones and barrels that direct you.  However, eventually, you will see the final orange sign that says, “End Road Work.”  Your traveling will return to how you began.

Our lives are often described as a journey.  From the moment we are born to our last breath on this earth we are on a journey through life.  Where life takes us, we do not know.  What our journey will be like is an unknown and each day can bring totally different experiences; some good and some not so good.  Life is a journey.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Journeys begin and journeys end.  It is the in-between time that our lives are lived.  It is during this journey that we are shaped, molded, and develop as individuals.  How we will look at the end of the journey only God knows.

Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi states, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) As followers of Jesus, God is always shaping us into persons that reflect his son.  Paul would also write in his letter to the Corinthians, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) In our journey with God, God is working to bring us to the place we need to be and to become the people God desires.  And God’s desire is that we look and live like Jesus.  It is, indeed, the journey of a lifetime that only finds its completion when we went enter into God’s heaven.                                                                      end-road-work-construction-works-260nw-1429712777

That is where the sign will say, “End Road Work” or as Jesus promised, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

The joy of our Lord is our ultimate destination.  It will be a joy that has no end and where we will experience the reward of a life journeying with our Lord.  But until that time, God is working on us.  Even when the journey is difficult, we can have faith and assurance that God is still in control.  One step at a time, this is what God asks of us.  In each moment and in each experience let God take the lead.  And when God takes the lead, we can make the journey because it is in God’s hands.




Words Matter

Research shows the average person speaks at least 7,000 words a day, with many speaking much more than that.  And most of the time, we don’t think about the words that come out of our mouths.  They are just part of our daily conversations.  However, there are also those times in which we are reminded to choose our words carefully.  Words can make a difference in others as well as ourselves.  Words can heal and words can hurt.  Words can build up and words can tear down.  Words can bring hope as well as communicate despair. There is power in the spoken word.

The words we choose to use often reveal much about who we are.  In Matthew 12:34 Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  What Jesus meant is that often the words we choose to use are a good indicator of what our hearts look like.  If we use words that are hateful, demeaning, judgmental, or just plain ugly, then they come forth from hearts that are the same.  The words we speak often reveal our character.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to love Jesus with all our hearts.  As a result, our relationship with Jesus should be the source of the words we choose.  We can’t claim Jesus as Lord of our hearts while still spewing words that speak the opposite.  The Apostle Paul would write, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)  Our words are called to give grace to others.  Graceful words which seek to build others up, not tear them down.  Words that lift people’s spirits, not drag them down.  Words with affirm the worth of persons, and not degrades them.  Graceful words demonstrate hearts that have surrendered to Jesus Christ.  Thus, excusing the negativity that some people speak as “oh, that’s just the way they are” is not a valid excuse.  This is especially true for those who follow Jesus.

Hence, in everything we speak we should ask ourselves, “would Jesus say it?”  If we ask that question before we speak, then some of our words and conversations might look a lot different.  I wish that I could confess that I have always chosen the words that would please my Lord.  My sin still seems to control my tongue sometimes.  Yet, every day I pray that my words may be acceptable to my Lord.

My words matter.  Your words matter.  The words we choose to use reveal something about where our hearts are.  May we all be better at choosing our words, whether spoken or posted on social media.  May our words be saturated with God’s grace so when we speak others experience this grace.  There’s already enough garbage spoken in the world, let us commit to speak grace.

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Finding God in the Equation

At some point in school, I remember learning long division in math. In math, long division is a method used for dividing large numbers into groups or parts. Long division helps in breaking the division problem into a sequence of easier steps. Just like all division problems, a large number, which is the dividend, is divided by another number, which is called the divisor, to give a result called the quotient and sometimes a remainder.

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Upon seeing the problem, you know that there will be several steps to come to a final answer.  Now in today’s world, we can easily find the answer to such a math problem by simply using a calculator or asking Siri or Google for the answer.  These programs will do the work for us and just leave us with the answer.  Just like that, the problem is solved.

Life is full of problems.  However, answers are not always easy to come by.  Problems can be complex, painful, and difficult to find an answer.  We can struggle to find a resolution to the problem.  All of us have experienced those times where sleepless nights are followed by uneasy days where we are not certain how things might turn out.  These can be fearful times.  Sometimes in fear, we retreat from the problem, deny that exists, or try to change the subject.  Problems do not go away.  M. Scott Peck was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author who wrote the book The Road Less Traveled.  Peck once wrote, “Problems must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

To grow as individuals and as people we have to face our issues and problems or we end up stuck in the same place and never move forward.  These problems take thought, time, and deliberate action.  And as people of faith, we must face our problems in light of God’s love and presence.  Oswald Chambers in his classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, writes “All worry is caused by calculating without God.”  When we leave God out of the problems in our lives we will never come to a complete answer.  We might have an answer, but it will always end up not bringing us the resolution we desire.

Facing our problems requires faith and fortitude.  Prayer must always be accompanied by an action to help create the end result that God desires for our lives.  Prayer and action require hard work on our part.  And when we are faithful to this calling, God will guide us to the answer that we need regardless of how long it takes.  And God’s answer will always be the best answer for our lives.  As the apostle Paul would remind us in scripture, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  God has a purpose for our lives and God is the answer for all.




No More Tears

As long as I can remember Johnson and Johnson have advertised their Baby Shampoo as “no more tears.”  According to Johnson and Johnson, “This baby shampoo’s No More Tears formula cleanses gently and rinses easily, leaving your baby’s hair soft, shiny, manageable and clean while smelling baby-fresh.”  Having raised two children, I can remember the bath times where keeping the shampoo out of their eyes was always a goal.  As adults, we’ve all had that experience of getting shampoo in our eyes and feeling the immediate burn in our eyes.  Indeed, it can sting.

Life stings sometimes.  We learn pretty soon in life that some of our experiences can sting and cause our eyes to tear up.  The irritants are many:  sickness, death, anxiety, uncertainty, fear, failure, rejection, disappointment; just to name a few.  Life can suddenly bring us to a place where our eyes water and the tears roll.  The French Enlightenment writer Voltaire said, “Tears are the silent language of grief.”  The dictionary defines grief as “deep sorrow.”

Deep sorrow.  These two words together even seem heavy written on the page.  And when the pages of our hearts are filled with deep sorrow, the pages can be difficult to turn.  When we are stuck in some form of grief brought on by the trials of this world, we are often wonder if this is simply the sad tale of human life that has no end.

In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John, while a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos, received visions of God that recognized the pain of the present but with an eye looking to a future of hope, peace, and life.  In John’s vision of the Christian’s final destination, he recorded these words, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21: 3-4) God promises that when all is said and done that God has prepared a place for us with God where every tear will be wiped away.  There will be no more tears.  Imagine that; no more tears.

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Our faith does not promise us a tearless life, but it does point us toward a tearless eternity.  This truth does not ignore the difficulties of this life but reminds us that when all is said and done there will be “no more tears.”  This is the hope we hold to when the tears of this life fall.  With this hope within us, we can then reach out to others who find themselves in deep sorrow and offer them the compassion, kindness, and presence of Jesus who wept himself when he witnessed the deep sorrow of friends.  We must be willing to step into the sorrow and pain of other people’s lives with God’s love in Jesus Christ. Sorrow can be deep, but God’s love will always be deeper.  Tears now will one day give way to a life of “no more tears.”