WHY?

Over the past month, I have witnessed the sickness and death of so many good people I know. I stood before coffins with a myriad of questions swirling around my mind. I comforted those left behind with my tears or with my hug, but never with my words because I had none to give.As a preacher, I am expected to know what to say during times like those. A comforting word, perhaps, that would make things easier to bear. I dramatic, philosophical, and theological insight maybe that would somehow lessen the pain.

But no, to my shame, I am often tongue-tied in moments like those.

I simply do not know what to say. There are moments when death requires no explanation but simply an exhortation to keep believing.

Indeed, sometimes, God does things that are devoid of any rational explanation. Sometimes, he does things with us that often may not make sense…at least from a purely human perspective.

WHY did you get sick?
WHY did the marriage of your parents fail?
WHY did your spouse have to leave?
WHY do the bad prosper?
WHY do the good die young?

WHY? WHY? WHY?

Questions.

We have questions in life that are often left unanswered. We stare at a blank wall. We incline our ear to silence. We beckon to a hallowed space.

Nothing.

No reasons. No logic. No meaning.

It is in these moments when we question the good in our God.

Is He really, in the first place?

I’m sure you have your own litany of queries that are unrequited. You sigh and shake your head. You wonder, really, if somewhere out there, a big, all-good, and all-knowing being truly exists as they say.

Let me assure you today, my friend — there is.

As sure as the sun rose this morning and as certain as its setting late this afternoon, there is a good God who loves you beyond your imagination. You just need to keep believing.

Today, Holy Thursday, take inspiration from the experience of a bunch of men who were likewise baffled by what their master intended to do. It wasn’t customary for the master to be doing what Jesus was about to do. It didn’t make sense for the master to be washing the feet of his disciples. Peter protested. Jesus insisted.

“Jesus said, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’…” (John 13:17)

For those among us who are confused, I believe Jesus hurls those same words at us.

In a similar way, God exhorts us today that someday, somehow, explanations will come. Things will make sense.

Questions will be answered.

Perhaps not completely in this lifetime. But surely in the next.

So grieve, yes. Struggle, by all means. Shed tears, if necessary.

But hold on. Keep believing. Trust.

Remember, eventually Peter understood why Jesus did what he did. Peter later on found out that his feet were washed that day by the Carpenter from Nazareth not only because Jesus was after hygiene.

Years later, hanging on an upside down cross in the outskirts of Rome, Peter smiled.

For then, He already knew WHY.

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GOD CAN LEAD YOU TO THE DESERT

Jesus didn’t go to the desert.No, he didn’t wake up one day, took his planner and said, “Hmmm, what should I do today? Oh yeah. Maybe a field trip to the desert would be great.”

If you read scriptures, you would realize that he was actually “driven”, “ushered”, “led” to go there by the Holy Spirit.

“And at once the Spirit drove him into the desert” (Mark 1:12)

Why would God bring His Son to the desert? The answer is simple: Because it was necessary.

It was necessary for him to feel weak so he can find his strength in God the Father alone.
It was necessary for him to feel hungry so he will realize that the Father is all He needs.
It was necessary for him to feel vulnerable so he will trust in the Father alone.
It was necessary for him to be tempted with power and glory so that he can find power only in His weakness and find glory only in doing His father’s will.

Sometimes, God does the same thing with us. He leads us to the “desert”.

Where in our weakness, we can find strength in Him alone.
Where in our vulnerability, we can receive his protection.
Where in our nothingness, He can be our all!

After forty days in the desert, Jesus came out stronger and more ready to do the mission entrusted to Him.

God might be doing the same thing with you!

YOUR GOD IS YOUR DAD

The beautiful noonday sun shone brightly that day as I lazily stretched out under the overarching canopy of trees along the mesmerizing Boracay shoreline. Ahhh! What an incredible sight! Jeng, my wife, was enjoying her swim. I was enjoying well… just doing nothing.Then my thoughts turned to the profound.

I asked myself, “How can a missionary couple like Jeng and myself enjoy such pleasures in life?”

Without expecting it, I received an answer. In the deepest recesses of my heart came a soothing and all-loving voice, “Because I am your Dad.”

DAD. That word carries with it an avalanche of consoling truths and comforting emotions.

Dad means strength.
Dad means consolation.
Dad means security.
Dad means assurance.
Dad means safety.
Dad means comfort.
Dad means honor.
Dad means love.

No wonder a not-so-rich missionary like myself is treated to such royalty vacations and above-average luxuries.

My God is my Dad.

The Bible says:

“But my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:19)

The one who truly owns, not just the Boracay seas, but the entire universe is looking after me. He knows I need to rest. He knows I need recuperation. He knows I need to recharge.

Ever wonder if you can make it through your week with your tight budget? Or find the strength to recover from your illness? Or overcome that sin? Or win over that stressful situation?

Think about your Dad.

He is not asleep. He is not having a day-off. He is in control.

And He will supply your needs according to his riches in glory.

Yes, even as you relax by the Boracay seas!

IN CONTROL

The earth will not revolve nor rotate without His permission.
The sun won’t rise, nor the moon shine, nor the stars sparkle without his consent.
The seconds won’t trickle, nor the minutes move, nor the hours pass, nor the days consumed without his approval.
No trouble, discomfort, distress or misfortune will come your way today without his acquiescence.
All blessings that fall on your lap first passed through his hands.
He directs. He allows. He permits.
Our faith is this: If God allows it, no matter how good or bad it may be, He sees something good to come out from it. His purpose is never to harm you nor destroy you but to bless and love you no matter what. In ways we don’t understand. In ways we don’t comprehend.
The Bible says: “God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Not for a moment should you even think that God has bailed out on you. He hasn’t. No matter how tough, painful, difficult or fearful your situation might be. Keep your head high. God is up to something.
God is King. God is powerful. God is sovereign.
He is always IN CONTROL.

A TRIBUTE TO BILLY GRAHAM

 

I was captivated by the photo of a young man preaching before thousands in a football stadium. His charm, his wit, his eloquence and his passion resounded loudly in my heart. He had a no-nonsense approach to preaching the Gospel message. You either take it or you leave it. No double-talk. No sugar-coating. No theatrics. Just pure and simple challenge to either walk with Jesus or walk away from Him.

It was 1997. I was only 25 years old when I chanced upon a book on the life of renowned evangelist, the late Billy Graham. I couldn’t put the book down. I was mesmerized by his life and his mission. Back then, I was in the midst of a tedious and serious life discernment process. I was searching for my vocation. I knew God has called me to preach. But it seemed like he was also calling me to get married. As a Catholic, I found it difficult to reconcile the call to preach and the call to married life. Only priests or lay consecrated men preach. And they aren’t supposed to get married.

Yet here comes Billy Graham, preacher and family man rolled into one.

I resonated with his passion to preach and his love for lost people — two things closest to my heart. That’s essentially who I am.

On that day, God birthed into my heart a new image of how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I will get married, raise a family and preach to the ends of the earth like Billy Graham.

That was more than 2o years ago. Today, 12 Catchfire Rallies and thousands of preaching engagements later, I look back with gratitude to the late Reverand Graham who was laid to rest yesterday. He never knew me but just like millions all over the globe, I am who I am today largely because of him.

He shone the light and paved the way. He is the preacher par excellence.

He is my inspiration.

He is Billy Graham.

PAIN IN THE NECK

I was recently diagnosed to have “cervical spondylosis”.

Scary medical term, huh?

It only means though that I have arthritis of the neck, at least that’s how my good doctor explained it to me — that my neck is older than my age. Without proper care of the neck, the painful sensation can radiate from my neck down to my arms. Quite painful, to be honest, when it is at its peak like say two weeks ago when I was rushed to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.

Now, two weeks later, and feeling much, much better, I got a chance to reflect and see my situation through my spiritual lenses.

My lifelong burden is basically a “pain in neck”, in both the literal and figurative sense. No more carrying of heavy stuff. No more random sleep posture at night. No more playing basketball. Quite a burden to carry for the rest of my life, don’t you think so?

Well, not until you see it from the perspective of Someone who carried something on his back in worse circumstances.

Compared to His burden which broke his spine, my burden only scarred a portion of mine.

I caused my burden, He didn’t cause His.
Mine was a pinch while His was a punch.
Mine can be relieved by medication while His can be relieved only by crucifixion.
Mine can be eased by therapy while His can be eased only by death.

And here’s the clincher: His burden was for my salvation.

Could I not then at least share in His burden by offering my pain for the salvation of others?

Everytime the shooting pain radiates from the neck to the arm, let it be for that lonely man behind bars who misses his family day after day.

Everytime the discomfort comes at night, let it be for that woman trapped in that marriage with that violent man.

Everytime a wrong posture hurts, let it be for that troubled young man hooked into drugs.

How about you? Are you going through some kind of physical or emotional pain now? Use it well. Offer it for the salvation of souls. Let it be your humble share in the salvific act of Christ.

Let your every pain, discomfort, irritation, and burden this week echo so loudly in eternity with every soul saved.

As for me, the pain in my neck will always serve as a reminder that my sins dealt the pain on the neck of my Savior.

The least I can do is share in that pain…even just a little and even just for a little while.

Have a blessed week ahead!

*————————–*
P.S. Thanks for all those who have been praying for me! I am getting better by the day!

THE FATHER’S LOVE

What made David weep over the death of his son Absalom?

…the very son who undermined his authority
…who rebelled against him
…who sought his death.

What made Jairus plead with Jesus for the healing of his daughter?

…despite his status
…despite the embarrassment
…despite the possibility of rejection.

The Father’s love.

Immovable.
Tangible.
All-consuming.

Yet the love of an earthly father pales in comparison what that of the Heavenly One.

For His children.
For His precious ones.
For you and me.

If David and Jairus did what they did, what makes you think God the Father won’t do that for you?

Be at peace, Child. No matter what you will face today, everything shall be well.

Simply because of the indescribable and overwhelming love of the Father for you!