Sunday, March 18, 2007

Psalm 44 and the US

As I read this, I got goosebumps. Because when I read this, I knew David was talking about the previous victories and the current (at the time the psalm was written) military / political hardship Israel was facing, but I realized it could very easily be George Bush writing this psalm as he deals with the war in Iraq and political issues at home. He testifies that he is Christian, so I won't say anything about if he's showing it or not, or if he truly is trusting God for the war or not. I don't know.

What I do know is that the US is a nation that claims to be historically Christian, just as the nation of Isreal during David's time was uniquely Jewish by history and by ethnic make-up. The nation of Israel went through periods of genuine righteousness and periods where their worship was more of a routine and their focus was on idols. The US appears to be slipping into a nation where idol worship - humanism, etc. seems to be creeping in. However, there are still many genuine Believers and Christianity isn't being outwardly persecuted.

Therefore, like the psalmist, some Believers may be asking why is God turning His face from us as we struggle militarily and politically? They may be asking for Him to reveal His reasons. Lord, if we are straying from our uniquely Christian roots, please reveal it to us. Or has He? Is He using these current political events as discipline for His children? For a nation that outwardly claims He is its God?

May we as Believers always pray and encourage other citizens that it is in God that we truly trust, and in God we truly stand.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

When the Lord gives back!

At first I thought this would be two seperate posts, but I realized that they both have the same theme! So here goes!

God keeps His promises. And God gives us what we ask for in accordance with His will. Easy concepts, hard to put into practical knowledge sometimes. But I have just experienced two instances where He has given something back that He had allowed to be taken away.

The first thing He restored was my enjoyment in playing the piano. About a month after my uncle died in December 2004, I was playing the piano one day and I just started crying. For some reason, that scared me, that playing music could unlock so much emotion. I stopped playing the piano then mainly because of time constraints, but also because I think I had this fear that my emotions would just be too overpowering when the music unlocked them. Well, a few weeks ago, Mom remarked about how I hadn't played since my return in May 2006 and would I just play a little bit. So, I started on the scales and these technique exercises. I realized that I could play again! It's weird, but it's like the grief I had with the two deaths in my family took away that joy, but now it's back. So, I try to play a little bit at least once a week. But when I could play without crying, I really did praise God because He gave that joy back to me. :)

The second thing He gave me was lost time. After my sophomore year, with my brain still loaded with O-Chem trivia - um - I mean - O-Chem knowledge - I really really wanted to do some lab research. I mainly wanted to do it to be a good premed and have it on my application, but anyway, I applied and I would've gotten in had my letters of recommendation arrived in a more timely manner. (I have since wholeheartedly forgiven said professors and advisors for that :) At first I was really upset because there went my dreams for spending the summer up to my ears in cells and solvents in a lab somewhere on campus. Instead, I went home to deal with my uncle's diagnosis of terminal cancer. From that moment until I graduated, grief and crisis were honestly the two things that overshadowed that college experience. Had God's light not shone through that darkness, I would've been utterably miserable.

Then I got the letters. The first was the rejection letter from UCHSC saying that they would not interview me, though I had applied. The next day, I receieved a letter from CSU on their accepting me into a graduate program. That program would last two years.

Yesterday, I spoke with someone at the teaching hospital where I work, and they mentioned the opportunity to do research. For a summer.

Suddenly, it hit me. I asked for a summer of research. God postponed it because He knew I had to be home with my family. Though I didn't ask for it, I wished I could experience my last two years of college without the grief. God granted me admission to a two year master's program.

I recognized God's restoration right there. It was nearly like the Isrealite's going to the promised land and being delayed for - well - a long time - but eventually making it in.

Poem I wrote yesterday

Oh God, my God who
Lifts me from my tears
This Savior, Lord has
Redeemed my tearstained years

Of witnessing sickness, feeling grief
Wounds of twice fresh cuts,
Twice drawn deep

Down the fabric of family,
Down the center of my heart
Twice drawn out illnesses
Twice long suffering wrought

Yea, this day, God revealed
A possible pathway to heal.
Twenty seven months, yes
In tears and in pain.

Yet, another twenty-seven
May be restored again.
Once more to passions
To learn and study medicine

To God be the glory,
Even now as tears I cry
Of joy, no longer trial
For God, my spirit He revives

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Iraq, the End Times indicator, and what it means for Academia and Medicine

Writing about my life is boring. I'm just 1 patient transporter, 1 child of God. But there is the whole WORLD out there to think about!!! Hence, this post will focus on much larger issues!

I just read an old TIME magazine report of the Sunni / Shiite schism in Iraq and the Middle East. It seems the rift began after the initial creation of the religions of Islam. They were going through establishing a church leadership and they had a disagreement on who would be the first Imam (the Muslim equivalent of the Pope). The Sunnis wanted one and the Shiites wanted another leader. The Sunni group had their favorite established as the first Imam, and as human nature is rather greedy, they have 'lorded' over the Shiite groups for the most part, thus that whole domination / oppression has caused the problems seen today in Iraq.

The consequences of a civil war in Iraq could flare up the Sunni / Shiite divide elsewhere, and experts say it's starting already with groups in the West Bank / Gaza and Lebanon being somewhat at odds.

So, the question TIME ultimately asks through this article is "What is there to do about this issue?" More accurately, "What can the west (more accurately, the United States) do about bringing this divide to an end and what will it cost us (the US mostly and then Europe following?)" The pending unrest is something a lot of people understandably get worked-up about because it means more unrest which would cause economic failures and more importantly, humanitarian suffering.

The question that I and other Believers must ask when we read this is: What is God's hand in this? We all know the end is coming. John Meyer is a rather adamant at teaching that the end is quite soon – as in within 1-3 generations. At first I listened with a smile and nod when he would get into it in a sermon. Then I would shrug it off as 'John's speculation' and begin more urgent things like planning for medical school.

However, the world situation is getting rather urgent with the seemingly under-focused situation in Darfur and with the pending unrest that's in the Middle East. Also, with the sharp increase in the number of active Muslims that is reported here and there on the news from different surveys and censuses, I now see a rather clear opposition to Christianity coming up which would be one of the causes of heightened persecution. Another thing is the rise in atheism / humanism. So, considering those 'current-events' indicators, I'm starting to agree with John Meyer and others (I think several ICR people are in this group) that believe the End Times are rather close by.

What does this mean for me? Not me as in my own small life. But my prayer life and how I ask God to use me. How should I pray then? For where I'm going. I'm going into at least two more years of being a student in a heavily humanistic field. Oh, God, I know You are reaching out to the field of Academia, to Your children in the ivory towers that still look to Your throne. I pray You will keep then strong, bring more of them – students, faculty to You before humanism becomes more of a norm, before it starts to cloud Your light more. The ivory towers will come down, but You, the Word of all knowledge will prevail.

And for the medical field, I offer that same prayer. That though we come close to defying mortality, though we have internal pacemakers and virus / cancer destroying agents, we have the human condition to battle – our own selfish ambitions, our patients' sicknesses and accidents. We hide behind stone and glass walls, complex molecules, and the ever-present technology that we claim will aid us in certain cures. But I know that the medical field takes a toll on its people because we see so much suffering even through medicine's victories. I pray all of those in the medical community will reach out to God, especially as they see their patients that reach for Him as they take in the cures at hand.

I wondered briefly how these fields would be affected by the End Times, and I realize that these are the fields – Academia and Medicine that have the most strongly become humanistic, but yet, history has shown that followers of God had influenced them first. Hospitals were set up to treat those society shunned because of illness, schools were set up to teach students about the Word and God's Creation. Yet these institutions have fallen away, and I truly do believe that in all the nations / groups that praise God for eternity, He wants the remnant of the schooled, the healers that walk in His footsteps to be among those that endure to the end.