The Silence of Love

God seems to be very silent to me for almost a month now. Even though I run and kneel before Him over and over, still, it seems that His love doesn’t beckon me anymore. Is He depraving me to be a sharer of His love? Did he already close His heart to me because I disobey His will at times? Until now, I feel like a dry land waiting for a poring rain in order that I shall be nourished and fertile. When shall His silence end? How long will I suffer and struggle in this so-called “the silence of love”?

What answers would I get from my friends if will ask them to define love? Surely, I assume that the common definition they would tell me is the reality that the world manifests, i.e. love is a dynamic entity that which brings completion to what we desire and what we long for. Is this love? For so several years that I desire and long for love, true love in particular, it seems that I have not yet experienced the fullness of it. Does love really dynamic? Where in fact, the more I convince myself that it is thus dynamic the more I encounter or experience the silence which seems so painful and disappointing to accept.

Did God choose to silence His love to me? As I am trying my best to live in the perspective of Christ, I cannot but be emotional because after all the struggles and pains that I endure in order to live His way, it seems nothing happens. The more I struggle to be good like Christ and endure the pain of living by His example, the more His love becomes silent and hidden. Why? I can’t find a reason. The more I struggle to deepen my relationship with Him, the more I doubt His love. Well, people or my friends may say that I am a “man of little faith” because I doubt, but how can’t you doubt if His love hid and silent.  As much as I exert to deepen my relationship with Him and to follow His way of life the harder to accept and live His love.

Is He unfair?  As I keep on reflecting on my disappointments about God’s love, too late to realize that it is not in knowing true love that I may able to understand it means, but it is only by allowing myself to be possessed by the silence of true love.  We can possess the truth about love, but we cannot possess love.  Love possesses us even in its silence.  For so countless years that I tussle in searching for the real meaning of true love, it is only now when I realized that true love means allowing my life to be immersed by it.  It is demanding for it does not really define love.  But it is not in the meaning that I could learn how to love with all of my heart but it is by accepting the fact that my life is immersed in love eventhough it does not conceal its real meaning.  This is a hard contention but who could understand it even I couldn’t fully and totally grasped it. Is this a manifestation of how God works in my life?  Is it a manifestation of the promptings of the mystery of God’s love?  I don’t know.  But what I can only that I could claim as for now is that God’s ways are not my ways, and God’s thoughts are not my thoughts.

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Complains and the Book of Numbers

The Book of Numbers has shared a lot of insights as I read, reflect and allow its text to speak in me.  Something relatable and realistic in the text caught my attention — the difficulties, demands, complaints and hardships that the Israelites faced in their journey towards the Promise Land. I was moved into deep personal assessment when I tried to put myself in that situation and condition of the Israelites.

Upon assessment of myself through the Book of Numbers, I discovered and realized that I, too, also have the tendency to complain like the Israelites whenever hardships, demands and difficulties come and arise into my life.  Whenever I complain, it seemed that life is too small and too dark for me. I just only saw the negative effect of hardships, demands and difficulties rather than its light.  When I am too absorbed with my own complains and pessimistic tendencies, frustrations and discouragements subjugated and overwhelmed me which ceased me to be on a right focus, to be hopeful and to see the light in life. A recent example of this was during the New Year. I was submerged by my own complains when the deadline for the submission of the digital copy (word document and PowerPoint) of our project paper in Archaeology, which to be submitted on January 4, 2012, was moved to January 1. I really complained a lot because the submission was too early. I had not started doing my project paper at that time since we spent our holidays working for the sustenance of our community through caroling and Christmas Sharing for the poor children. I also caught up with rest so as to be fully recharged for the resume of class in DBCS by January 4, 2012. Generally, I didn’t really enjoy my Christmas break although there was an ample time for rest. I didn’t also enjoy the arrival of the New Year because of the pressure and the demand of finishing my project paper.  My mind was just preoccupied with my complains at that time. I was so hot-tempered and pressured just thinking about the submission date of my project paper.  From that experience, I had lost my focus in my studies.  I became frustrated and discouraged to continue persevering in my studies.

After that ‘great collapse’ though that I realized the wisdom behind the hardships, demands and difficulties that I experienced.  God allowed these to happen to me not to make me feel down and frustrated, but to see how far I can go and how responsible and committed in small things I can be.  Assessing myself after experiencing this, I realized that I became too absorbed with pessimism that I was not able to see the brighter side of what happened. Relating this experience to what I learned from the Book of Numbers, it seems that what I experienced is not far from what the Israelites experienced. The only difference is that after they complained against YHWH, they were punished and they were not allowed by God to enter the Promised Land.  It was too late also for them to realize that all the hardships, difficulties and demand that they experienced were all indicators of the great grace that YHWH wants to give them.  They were not able to see the positive side of the “great collapse” that they experienced.

To conclude, the Book of Numbers has taught me a lot of lessons to be pondered in life, most especially in handling my tendency to complain in a positive way.  Its insights made me open with the varieties of possibilities to be optimistic with hardships, demands and difficulties in life.  Truly, God works in mysterious way.  He allowed hardships, difficulties and demands to test us and looking at it in a positive way, there is wisdom behind these things.  At first, we condemn these things so we complain, but when we allow it to speak within us, God’s graciousness and love just works continuously even though we consider these as “nightmares” in our life.

The Thorns of the Flesh

Human Person is adequately considered as unique.  Though society may not equally value it, nonetheless, it still constitutes the value of “being able” of the person.  Through and by uniqueness we enjoy the dignity and respect.  But, would you still agree that in the midst of contradiction we are still adequately considered unique?  Can you still say, “I am unique” despite the fact that the realm of the thorns of the flesh in our lives is real and undeniable?  What drove me to say these things?  I would like to tell you about my experiences in relation with this subject.  At the peak of my restlessness and in my vocation journey, at first, I always feel the guilt and the shame on myself whenever the thorns of the flesh deeply sieged me.  It is hard for me to accept this fact, which definitely humiliates and belittles my personhood, particularly, my spirituality.  I would like to get rid of this worldly desire but I cannot. I cannot escape from it despite my effort to exhaust all the possible means at my best. It is really inevitable.  At times, whenever it disrupts me, I feel I’m in pain and in distress.  However, it helps me to realize and appreciate the uniqueness in me, even more.  Thus, by means of appreciating it I get to discover the value of “being able” within me.  I realized that the goodness within could be more appreciated once we start to appreciate and accept our weaknesses.

By embracing and accepting the thorns of the flesh is similar in loving an enemy. Loving an enemy is the most difficult thing to do, so with the thorns of the flesh, which I practically consider as a curse in my life.  But, we use to say, “a real rose always has thorns”.  Applying this maxim personally, which I only discovered now, as I am reflecting upon the situations of being sieged by the thorns of the flesh, the uniqueness within me does not only come from where I am good at, but also from my weaknesses, incapabilities and also from the shadows of my life. I realized only through theses aspects that “a real person or a unique person cannot be separated from thorns.”  As I am struggling to love and accept the thorns of the flesh in me, I also realized that when weaknesses abound, the grace of God abounds all the more. This is not something abstract, but it’s real. It is REAL because it is a first-hand experience.

With the thorns of the flesh, we can still affirm that we are adequately considered as unique.  From my experiences, even in the midst of contradiction in life, we can still affirm to ourselves that we are still beautiful and pleasing in the eyes of the Beholder.  The beauty and the uniqueness within us are not only distinguishable in the capacities, talents, successes, honors, prestige, popularities or ranks we could have.  Even in our thorns of the flesh we are still beautiful and unique just like the rose; “a real rose always has thorns.”

KNOWING GOD IN SUFFERING: MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE OR INCLUSIVE

I am firmly convinced that knowing God in suffering is mutually inclusive.  I have this conviction that it is not only in joy that we know God, but we can also know God through suffering. Knowing God in suffering is undisputed in a religious context.  On July 27, 2012 in Baseco, I asked some questions to a mother and to a single blessed person in the Holy Name of Jesus, an apostolate area in Baseco, whereby I, with my two companions, Patrick and Tommy, were assigned. And so the questions go this way: Despite the suffering you are experiencing in this shanty, do you still believe in the generosity of God?  Can you still manage to know God?  At my great surprise, they both answered, “Yes”; despite the miserable situations and sufferings that they encounter day after day, they could still manage to believe in God and to know God!  Prior to asking them, I thought that I would hear a litany of complains to God on those curious questions from me.  After hearing their answers, I was humbled.

From this experience, I realized that knowing God in suffering is mutually inclusive.  For me it is undeniable to affirm by the fact that it I am going through suffering, the portrait of God is becoming more explicit, the loving presence of God is becoming evidently and the immanence of God is becoming more real in our lives.  Barrowing the words from Lieble in the film God on Trial, maybe, as we are experiencing suffering in our lives, God is also suffering with us.  Maybe! As from the two interviewees whom I had in Baseco, on the misery and despair in their lives, God is probably in misery and in despair too. Maybe that’s why it was easy for them to affirm that they do still believe in God despite living in the midst of miseries. I can say that they are the good examples of sons of God because they recognize God in suffering, which is mutually inclusive in experience and they lived it. Those experiences of theirs sufficed and affirmed the reality of God in suffering.  I must admit that I envy them.  I have a firm conviction on the mutual inclusivity of God in suffering, but applying it in my daily experiences, it seems that it is not yet fully realized.  Yes, I admit that I experience sufferings often times, but my immediate reaction is to complain rather than pausing for a while. I didn’t realize that it is by means of it that I get to reflect whether the suffering is an opportunity for me to see the loving presence of God and if it’s at work in me.

 I am so thankful that I was given an opportunity to hear those answers from my companions.  Those answers touched my heart and intensified my firm conviction that knowing God in suffering is mutually inclusive.  It is really undeniable that suffering is inevitable.  Everyday, we cannot but encounter sufferings in whatever means.  Some endures it, while others escape from it.  But there’s one thing I learned from suffering, that suffering is wisdom in itself.  We suffer for the sake of a greater Good, i.e. to know God and to be embodied by God.  Actually, I’ve got this question in my mind. Why God allows suffering in the Human Person?  Upon reflecting, I found an answer. God allows suffering in the Human Person in order for the him to feel and to know His loving presence and also to understand that despite the fact that a Human Person doesn’t understand, God is united with him in his sufferings.  Maybe for others’ perspective it could be an obscure assumption. But, for me I would affirm it because I experienced it so I firmly believe in it. How about you?