Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Theme: Storms and Suffering

Volume 2 No. 107 November 8, 2012

If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_107.htm

Archives: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/Default.htm

St. Mary's Church in Dair Al Zor, Syria destroyed
Destruction of St. Mary's Monastery Church in Dair Al-Zor, Syria
Table of Contents
If you are not receiving your own copy of Malankara World by email, please add your name to our subscription list. It is free. click here.

Hurricane Sandy, Evil in Syria and Hurricane Neelam: Is God Trying to Tell us Something?

Tens of thousands of people had their lives are changed in significant ways as a result of Sandy. It is difficult to calculate the human toll emotionally and spiritually. As usually happens during such catastrophe, people blames God. How can a loving God do such thing to His creation? Some atheists may even join biblical character Job's wife in 'advising people to curse God and die.' ...

Bible Readings for This Sunday (Nov 11)

Hoodhosh Eetho (Dedication of Church) Sunday

Sermons for This Sunday (Nov 11)

Sermons for the Hoodhosh Eetho (Dedication of Church) Sunday

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Hoodosh-eatho.htm

Inspiration for Today

"Perfect through suffering." (Heb. 2:10)

Destruction of St. Mary's Monastery Church in Dair Al-Zor, Syria by Archbishop Eustathius Matta Roham

The attached photo is my church in Dair Al-Zor, Syria. This is St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Dair Al-Zor, which is located on the Euphrates River. It was destroyed by dynamites on Saturday, 27 October 2012. I heard in the news that there was an explosion near the church, but I never had an idea how much damage was done to it? ...

Russian Orthodox Bishop: Syrian Christians Facing 'Extermination'

The Russian Orthodox bishop, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, warned that that the situation for the Christian population of Syria has deteriorated to an alarming degree. Hilarion compared the situation today, after almost two years of fighting in Syria, as analogous to Iraq, which saw a virtual depopulation of Christians following the U.S. invasion in 2003. ...

North Carolina Baptists respond to need for help after Hurricane Sandy

About 75 North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) volunteers are now on site assisting with response efforts after Hurricane Sandy. All three NCBM feeding units are serving in the New Jersey/New York area. The three large feeding units have a combined capacity of 80,000 meals per day. Recovery, administration and chaplaincy volunteers are also on site. ...

God and Sandy

It has been deemed the most destructive storm, hitting the most densely populated areas of our country, in decades. At the time of this writing, over fifty deaths have been reported. Damage is estimated to be in the $20 billion range. Over 8 million have been without power in 17 states.

So where was God? Some would say this proves there isn't a God, or at least a loving, benevolent God. If there was, He would have intervened. So either He wouldn't (a bad God) or He couldn't (a weak God). Others, with equal determination, claim that this is just another example of God's sovereignty. There was a Sandy because God wanted there to be a Sandy. So take that, New Jersey. ...

A Long and Winding Road

At times the road before me seems long, steep and challenging. I can feel lost. Uncertain. Afraid. Sometimes I'm not sure I have the strength for the journey. It's in those times that God wants me to remember I'm not traveling alone. He is my ever-present guide. He knows where the road leads. He can see what lies ahead. And that's not all. ...

How to Weather Life's Storms

You may be facing a storm today. You begin to feel a breeze or a ripple. Your company is downsizing, your mortgage is upside-down. A gust becomes a gale. Your husband walks out the door, leaving you with three kids and a broken heart. Your biopsy report comes back and it's bad -- really bad. You start to submerge. Where's Jesus? It's foggy and you're frantic. ...

Health: Dengue Fever Remedy - Papaya Leaf Juice

Papaya Leaf juice is a natural cure for dengue fever. As dengue fever is rampant now, I think it's good to share this with all. ...

Family Special: How to Deal with Unemployment

About six years ago, our family went through a period of unemployment. Fear and bitterness consumed me, and although I knew in my head I needed to cling hard to God, my heart propelled me in the other direction. Through that experience I learned that God is good even when life is hard, and His love is greater than our emotions. ...

Humor: Mysterious deaths that made even top doctors wonder......

About Malankara World

Hurricane Sandy, Evil in Syria and Hurricane Neelam: Is God Trying to Tell us Something?
by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World
 
Hurricane Damage in Staten Island, NY
Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island, NY. Two Syriac Orthodox Churches in
Staten Island were damaged in the storm according to MASOC - NA.
 
Last week, the residents of North East United States were exposed to what is described as a perfect storm - a hurricane colliding with other two weather fronts and a full moon to create a storm that had an exposed area of nearly 500 miles and wrecked havoc from Southern New Jersey all the way to Ohio and further west. In the mean time, people in South East India faced a storm named Neelam. In the midst of all these, we received word from Archbishop Eustathius Matta Roham of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Jazirah & Euphrates that our church, seminary and public schools in his diocese were damaged by the rebels fighting against the Azad regime in Syria. These events makes you wonder what is going on. For example, consider for a moment what Sandy did:
  • 13 foot surge of seawater. 3 feet above the 200 year old record.
  • 90 mph winds
  • The battery tunnel connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn flooded.
  • 74 foot crane in the middle of Manhattan tittering over the city
  • 8.2 million in 7 states from the Carolina’s to Ohio without power
  • A close call at 2 nuclear plants
  • 100 homes destroyed first by flood and then by fire in Queens (historic breezy Point neighborhood)
  • The West Virginia Blizzard as a result of the storm.
  • Ships and trees, and roads, and homes gone.
  • Dozens of people lost their lives (87 as of Nov 1)
  • Waves from Lake Erie crashing on the break-wall creating a fountain-like geyser of 30 plus foot high spilling on to I-90 near Cleveland, Ohio causing the highway to be closed to traffic.
  •  Power outages in all the areas touched by the storm.
  • Over 4,000 flight cancellations.

Tens of thousands of people had their lives are changed in significant ways as a result of Sandy. It is difficult to calculate the human toll emotionally and spiritually. As usually happens during such catastrophe, people blames God. How can a loving God do such thing to His creation? Some atheists may even join biblical character Job's wife in 'advising people to curse God and die.'

Yes, we do not understand why evil things happen in this world. Events like Sandy raise fundamental questions. Why is there so much chaos? Why does nature so overwhelm us and destroy our lives. Why do innocent people suffer? We asked similar questions before: Where was God on September 11, 2001? Where was God when 280,000 perished in the Asian Tsunami? Where was God this week?

"These are universal questions," according to Leonard Sweet. "They are as old as Job and are asked by the wisest people among us. For years mankind has sought the answer to suffering. And we are still searching. So what do we do when nature overwhelms us, or when men conspire to create monstrous works of evil, and God seems so far from us? Who’s in control here? Nature? Man? God?"

David G. Rogne gave a compelling illustration of Faith and suffering:

"A ministerial colleague tells of a conversation he had one day with a female medical assistant in a doctor's office, as he was waiting to see the doctor. The woman recognized him because she had occasionally attended his church, though she was a member of another church.

"I want to tell you about my experience," she said. "I got saved in the ... Church ... I gave my life to God ... and guess what? ... Life tumbled in! I developed a heart problem. My husband lost his executive job ... and he recently died of cancer."

The minister says he tried to mumble a few theological sounding explanatory words about God's mysterious ways, thinking that was what the woman wanted.

But she went right on with her story, indicating that she had repeatedly asked God, "Why me?"

"And what do you think God told me?" she continued.

"'Why not you?' That's what God said. 'Why should you be spared all the crises of life that everyone else must go through?'"

Then she wound up her story saying, "One day I said to God, 'Lord, you've forgiven me. Now I forgive you.'"

There is a woman who, from my point of view, has a healthy faith. Her faith is not a series of propositions, it is a relationship, and as in all relationships, it is one that changes and can tolerate challenges. It is vital because it is honest."

Source: David G. Rogne, Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost, CSS Publishing Company

Natural calamities are one thing; but how do we respond to the situation faced by Archbishop Matta Roham - watching a life time of work being destroyed in front of him and he feels helpless doing anything about it. I think this is when we have to realize the role of evil in this world. Although people blame God for all the evil, it is important to realize that evil does not come from God. It comes from Satan. It originated with the fall of man. My friend Rev. Fr. John Brian, a very well known scholar on Orthodox Theology, gave a sermon on the Good and Evil recently. It is worth listening to it to understand the role of evil and local areas of sanctified space more fully. You can access it here:

http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2012/11/voting-for-good.html

Fr. John Brian says that it is important to recognize that evil flourishes in this world and it is the creation of ours (humans). Evil is our will above and beyond God's word. God has nothing to do with that.

In God's kingdom, everything is good. We should treat everyone in God's kingdom with compassion. Here is some good news: Evil do not exist for ever. Adam and Eve did not eat the fruit from the Tree of Life; only the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge - wherein they became aware of the good and the evil. This is why our Orthodox Prayers during Funeral says, "Evil shall not remain eternal." We are petitioning God to look at the goodness of the persons. Be merciful to them. Evil will be separated from good.

We can look at evil as the darkness and Goodness as the light. Jesus brought the fullness of God into the earth when he incarnated into this world. He is the light. The darkness cannot co-exist with light. It cannot conquer the light. Goodness is eternal; evil is not. When we go to eternal world after our death, there is no evil there. We only face goodness.

So, although we may wonder why these bad things happen to us, remember, Jesus didn't promise us that we will have a comfortable life in earth. He said that He faced the suffering before his disciples did. Out of 12 disciples, 11 of them had faced violent death. What we get as a reward is an eternal life without evil.

So, next time, when we are tempted to ask God, "why me?", ask instead, "why not me?"
 

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Nov 11)

Hoodhosh Eetho (Dedication) Sunday

The Sunday after Koodhosh Eetho is called Hoodhosh Eetho (Dedication of Church) Sunday.

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Sermons for This Sunday (Nov 11)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today

Reaching Perfection

by L B Cowman

"Perfect through suffering." (Heb. 2:10)

Steel is iron plus fire. Soil is rock, plus heat, or glacier crushing. Linen is flax plus the bath that cleans, the comb that separates, and the flail that pounds, and the shuttle that weaves.

Human character must have a plus attached to it. The world does not forget great characters. But great characters are not made of luxuries, they are made by suffering.

I heard of a mother who brought into her home as a companion to her own son, a crippled boy who was also a hunchback. She had warned her boy to be very careful in his relations to him, and not to touch the sensitive part of his life but go right on playing with him as if he were an ordinary boy. She listened to her son as they were playing; and after a few minutes he said to his companion: "Do you know what you have got on your back?" The little hunchback was embarrassed, and he hesitated a moment. The boy said: "It is the box in which your wings are; and some day God is going to cut it open, and then you will fly away and be an angel."

-

Some day, God is going to reveal the fact to every Christian, that the very principles they now rebel against, have been the instruments which He used in perfecting their characters and moulding them into perfection, polished stones for His great building yonder. Cortland Myers

-

Suffering is a wonderful fertilizer to the roots of character. The great object of this life is character. This is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity... To gain the most of it and the best of it is the object of probation. Austin Phelps

-

"By the thorn road and no other is the mount of vision won."

Source: Streams in the Desert  

Destruction of St. Mary's Monastery Church in Dair Al-Zor
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Peace and greetings to you in Christ our Lord.

I never had in mind that one day that I will write this email to you and to many other friends. The attached photo is my church in Dair Al-Zor, Syria. This is St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Dair Al-Zor, which is located on the Euphrates River. It was destroyed by dynamites on Saturday, 27 October 2012. I heard in the news that there was an explosion near the church, but I never had an idea how much damage was done to it? I just saw this picture published on Facebook, and wanted to share it with you asking your prayers for peace in Syria. (see the cover picture.)

It was early this summer when our Christian community left Dair Al-Zor, because of the heavy fighting in their town. Many of them were displaced in Hassake, where is the center of the Archdiocese. The community in Dair Al-Zor worked hard for ten years (1994-2004) to build a new church and Al-wahda Private School. The criminals destroyed all this wonderful work in less than one minute. This is the fruit of the Arab/Islamic Spring, which many people still believe in it.

St. Mary's Monastery in Tell-Wardiat, Syria
St. Mary's Monastery in Tell-Wardiat, Syria
St. Mary's Monastery in 2004

Your prayers, good will and action are kindly asked to stop destroying God's creation.

Sincerely yours,

Archbishop Eustathius Matta Roham
Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Jazirah & Euphrates

Russian Orthodox Bishop: Syrian Christians Facing 'Extermination'

by John Couretas

In an interview for Acton's Religion & Liberty quarterly, the Russian Orthodox bishop in charge of external affairs for the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, warned that that the situation for the Christian population of Syria has deteriorated to an alarming degree. Hilarion compared the situation today, after almost two years of fighting in Syria, as analogous to Iraq, which saw a virtual depopulation of Christians following the U.S. invasion in 2003.

The Russian Orthodox Church has been among the most active witnesses against Christian persecution around the world, particularly in the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East. In November 2011, Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, visited Syria and Lebanon. In a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Kirill said that he shared a concern with Assad about the "spread of religious radicalism that threatens the integrity of the Arab world."

That sentiment has been expressed widely in Christian communities in Syria - some of them dating to apostolic times - as civil war has progressively taken a heavy toll. Now almost two years on, as many as 30,000 people may have perished. Despite having few illusions about the nature of Assad's autocratic rule, many Christians feared that the Islamist groups, involved in what the West initially viewed as another "Arab Spring" uprising, would eventually turn on them. Indeed this is what has happened. Entire Christian villages have been depopulated, churches desecrated, and many brutal killings have taken place at the hands of the "Arab Spring" insurgents. Most recently, Fr. Fadi Haddad, an Orthodox priest, was found murdered with brutal marks of torture on his remains. Car bomb attacks are now being waged against Christian neighborhoods.

In February, Hilarion delivered a lecture in Moscow titled "An Era of New Martyrdom. Discrimination of Christians in Various Parts of the World" in which he cited the work of groups such as Barnabas Fund and International Christian Concern. In his talk, he detailed the dire situation of the Coptic Christians in Egypt and in Syria, and various other nations. He noted that Muslims and Christians of various confessions – Orthodox, Roman and Syro Catholics, Maronites and Armenians – co-existed in Syria through centuries and that, until recently, "Syria was a model of wellbeing as far as interreligious co-existence was concerned." What's more, Syria has accepted 2 million refugees from Iraq, with several thousand of them being Christians, as they fled persecution in their homeland.

"It is possible already now to speak of an external military interference in [Syria] as thousands of extremist militants in the guise of opposition forces have unleashed a civil war in the country," Hilarion said in the Moscow lecture. "Extremist groups, the so-called jamaates consisting of militant Wahhabites armed and trained at the expense of foreign powers are purposefully killing Christians."

The Russian bishop also addressed the crisis on Oct. 23, 2012 in a speech at the United Nations. He detailed "various outrageous facts of discrimination and violence against Christians" for UN delegates:

Last year, Christians made up ten percent of the population of Syria. Today in this country, affected by civil war, tens of thousands of Christians have fallen victim to religious intolerance. Their churches and shrines are being destroyed, they are leaving cities and villages where they lived for centuries, their homes are ruined or captured by the radically-minded representatives of the dominant religion. No less than fifty thousand Christians have had to flee from the Syrian city of Homs.

The distinguished representative of Egypt stated a few minutes ago "that the Arab countries respect freedom of expression. One that is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed towards one specific religion or culture. A freedom of expression that tackles extremism and violence." We see, however, that Egypt, with a total population of eighty million people and with a Christian population of about eight million, is facing mass exodus of Coptic Christians because of the systematic persecutions on religious grounds. We call on the Egyptian government to make every effort to stop this persecution and to protect Christians from hatred and violence.

Over half of the sixty thousand Christians have left Libya during the civil war.

The extended Acton Institute interview with Hilarion, conducted Oct. 26, 2012 at the Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wis., will be published in the Fall 2012 issue of Religion & Liberty. What follows is an excerpt in which he talks about the situation in Syria and what he sees as parallels to other situations:

R&L: What, in your mind, needs to happen in Syria to bring an end to the violence and to begin the process of reconciliation in that part of the world?

Hilarion: If we look at events which have been unfolding in the Middle East for the last 10 years, we can see a tendency, which is noticeable in many countries. And this has to do with the gradual extermination of Christianity in the Middle East due to various political reasons, due to great political instability, which is peculiar to many countries of this region. I think if we look at the example of Iraq, for example, we'll see that 10 years ago there were 1.5 million Christians living in that country. Now, there are only 150,000 left. So nine-tenths of the Christian population of Iraq was either exterminated or had to flee.

R&L: The situation is also dire for the Copts.

Hilarion: We see a very grave situation of Christians in Egypt where thousands of Coptic Christians have had to leave the country because they can no longer live there. We see a very difficult situation in Libya, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and now in even Syria. I was recently in Rome addressing the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and two senior Catholic prelates from the Middle East region approached me. One was a Maronite and the other one was a Melkite. And both of them thanked me for the position of the Russian Orthodox Church and also for the position of the Russian Federation on the international scene with regards to Syria, because the Russian Federation does not take position in favor of one or another party of the country. But we believe that all parties of the conflict should be partners of the dialogue. If you simply ignore one party, then it doesn't lead anywhere.

R&L: Are there any areas in Syria now where religious minorities are secure?

Hilarion: What we see now is that the inter-religious situation in the regions which are still controlled by the government is stable. It is as stable as it used to be for many decades, if not centuries. In the places where rebels take power, for example in the city of Homs, we see that immediately the Iraqi scenario is being put in practice. We see that Christians are in grave danger. They have to flee; they have to leave their homes. And people from Syria, the religious leaders with whom I spoke, they fear that if the regime is overthrown, then they will have to leave their country. This is what was happening in Iraq. This is what is happening in Egypt. And this is what is likely to happen in Syria. So I think the foreign powers, which try to work for democracy in these countries - in order to achieve it they intervene. They should always think about the Christian minority because it seems to me that these people are simply ignored. Nobody takes into account their existence, their sufferings, and the fact that they become the first victims of the unrest when the political situation changes of these countries.

I spoke about this at the Synod of Bishops in Rome. And most recently I spoke about this at the session of the Third Committee of the United Nations in New York. And I cited examples of several countries where the rights of Christians are violated. And I called on the international community to create a mechanism of defense of Christians in the Middle East, in particular, and in other countries as well. And this mechanism should involve the granting of political support or economic aide only in exchange for guarantees for Christian minorities.

R&L: Some people are looking at Syria and drawing parallels to Kosovo or Northern Cyprus, places where Christianity is in danger of being destroyed or has disappeared altogether.

Yes. Kosovo is another example of the negligence of the Christian population because politicians had their own political goals, which they achieved with the separation of Kosovo from Serbia. But the result for the Christian population was disastrous. I visited Kosovo twice, and I must say that Christians simply left this region. And those who remain, they live in very difficult conditions. For example, I visited one Orthodox Church in Kosovo where four ladies live under the protection of the guards. One lady has her house across the street. For the last four years she could not visit her house even once, because as soon as she leaves the compound, she will lose the protection and she is likely to be killed.

Source: Acton Institute Blog
http://blog.acton.org/archives/44961-russian-orthodox-bishop-syrian-christians-facing-extermination.html

North Carolina Baptists respond to need for help after Hurricane Sandy

By BSCNC Communications

About 75 North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) volunteers are now on site assisting with response efforts after Hurricane Sandy. All three NCBM feeding units are serving in the New Jersey/New York area. The three large feeding units have a combined capacity of 80,000 meals per day. Recovery, administration and chaplaincy volunteers are also on site.

The Command Unit, along with large shower units, laundry units, generator units and recovery units, are on the ground and ministering. Recovery teams are already working in some areas and others will be organized as reports come back from assessment teams. With the recovery phase underway, many recovery volunteers are needed.

"We are asking North Carolina Baptists to do three things: pray, go and give," said Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director. "Pray for people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy and for the volunteers who are going to minister. Please pray for safety and the witness of our disaster relief volunteers. Please also pray that God's love will be shown to hurting people and they will want to know more about our great God who loves them."

==
The NC Baptist Men now have three mobile mass feeding operations up and running, capable of serving 80,000 hot meals per day, with additional facilities for showering, laundry and other necessities. If you have family or friends in the affected areas of New York and northern New Jersey who are in need, send them to the NC Baptist Men. They will be well taken care of. One location is near Rutgers if not actually on the campus.

God and Sandy

by Dr. James Emery White

It has been deemed the most destructive storm, hitting the most densely populated areas of our country, in decades. At the time of this writing, over fifty deaths have been reported. Damage is estimated to be in the $20 billion range. Over 8 million have been without power in 17 states.

So where was God?

Some would say this proves there isn't a God, or at least a loving, benevolent God. If there was, He would have intervened. So either He wouldn't (a bad God) or He couldn't (a weak God).

Others, with equal determination, claim that this is just another example of God's sovereignty. There was a Sandy because God wanted there to be a Sandy. So take that, New Jersey.

A CNN survey of social media found four main themes running through our cultural psyche:

"God Bless,"
"Thank God,"
"God's Wrath," and
"God Does Not Exist."

So who is right?

The only way to answer that is go back to the very beginning of our existence.

God made us in order to love us. We were tenderly crafted and designed, each as an individual, for the purpose of being related to, known, and deeply cherished. Yet this meant that we were also given the freedom to make choices with our life, to live as fully conscious, self-determining beings.

Even to the point of whether we were going to respond to the Creator's love.

God did not choose to force Himself upon us against our will. Instead, He determined to woo us, knowing that in so doing, we might very well spurn His love. But this was the only way to have relationship be relationship.

This is the dynamic at the heart of human existence. God could have made me love Him, but if He had, His relationship with me – and mine with Him – would have been meaningless. God wanted my relationship with Him, and with others, to be real. So when He created me, He had to take the risk of setting me free.

The first use of this freedom to love was, as you might expect, made by the first humans, Adam and Eve. The tree in the middle of the garden stood as the great authenticator that the love between the first humans and God was real.

Then they chose to eat the fruit.

The Lover was spurned.

And all hell broke loose.

The decision the first humans made to reject God's leadership and an ongoing intimacy within a relationship with Him radically altered God's original design for how the world would operate and how life would be lived. Theologians have termed this "the fall," and talk about how we now live in a "fallen" world.

In other words, we live in a world that is not the way God intended it to be. When Satan told Eve that if she ate of the fruit in the garden that she would not die, he lied. It was the day death and dying was born in to the human race. They had chosen to sleep with another on the night of the honeymoon, and forever stained the relationship of loving intimacy that had been intended for eternity within the Lover's heart.

Langdon Gilkey observes that few of us find it easy to believe that one act of disobedience brought about a fall for the whole race that is now continued in us by inheritance. Yet reflecting on his experience in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, where prisoners representing a cross-section of humanity were forced to participate in a living laboratory of community, Gilkey noted that the theological idea of a pervasive warping of our wills is the most accurate description of the reality of life. "What the doctrine of sin has said about man's present state," Gilkey concluded, "seemed to fit the facts as a I found them."

The results of our collective choice to turn away from God run so deep that it isn't just moral sin and evil that we face, but natural evil as well.

The whole world is sick.

In the Bible, we're told that: "...the whole creation has been groaning" (Romans 8:22, NIV). Which is why we have earthquakes and tidal waves, volcanoes and mudslides, wildfires and birth defects, famine and AIDS.

And, yes, hurricanes named Sandy.

Our world is "The Stained Planet," writes Philip Yancey. The pain and suffering and heartache is a huge cosmic "scream...that something is wrong...that the entire human condition is out of whack." These are far from original insights, much less contemporary ones. The medieval Christian philosopher Boethius aptly noted that "evil is not so much an infliction as a deep set infection."

Which raises a provocative point - that God is not behind what is tragic with this world, much less responsible for it – people are. Or as Chesterton once wrote to the editor in response to a request by the London Times for an essay on the topic, "What's Wrong with the World,"

"Dear Sir:

In response to your article, ‘What's wrong with the world'

– I am.

Yours truly,

G.K. Chesterton."

Our hearts shy away from His in light of the pain of our lives, and the pain of the world around us. We feel betrayed, yet fail to see that it is we who have done the betraying.

Now some will say, "Well, if He knew how it was going to turn out, He should have never created us, because everything from cancer to concentration camps just isn't worth it."

Yet when we blithely say such things, we betray how little we know of true love. Yes, God took a risk. Yes, the choice He gave each of us has resulted in pain and heartache and even tragedy. Yes, it would be tempting to say that it would have been easier on everyone – including God – never to have endured it.

But that's not the way love – real love, at least – works.

To remember this, I need only reflect on one of the most defining realities of my life – my own role as a father. I have four children.

My oldest daughter will soon be twenty-six years old. And as her father, as the one who loves her more than anyone, who would lay down his life for her instantly, let me tell you what has never entered my mind.

Never having her.

Never bringing her into the world.

Never going through life with her.

Even though she can reject me, hurt me, turn from me, and tear out my heart by hurting herself as well as others. If someone were to say, "Why did you ever bother?" My only reply would be, "You have obviously never been a father."

This is why suffering cannot be reduced to mere injustice, much less punishment. As a Time magazine reporter, attempting to understand Christianity's unique perspective, rightly noted, "It is a harrowing invitation to a higher dialogue."

That higher dialogue is love.

When one loves, there is risk – risk of suffering, risk of loss, risk of rejection. But without this willingness to be wounded on the deepest of levels, there cannot be authentic relationship on the deepest of levels.

As C.S. Lewis once observed,

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable...The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers...of love is Hell."

So where am I in the potential pain of my daughter's life - the pain that might come her way, and that might flow back to me because I chose to have her? The same place God is with my pain, and where God is with your pain, and where God is with all of the pain in this world.

Right by her side.

Caring, weeping, and longing to hold her in my arms.

Just as God is longing to hold us. He reaches out to each person, by name. The Bible says that "The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking...The good man does not escape all troubles - he has them too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one" (Psalm 34:18-20, LB). And those who have opened up their heart to God's presence and comfort in the midst of their pain have found this to be true.

Some might say, "But why doesn't God just wipe out all pain and suffering and evil?" Because in doing so, He would be wiping out all opportunity for authentic relationship. Free choice would be meaningless. But further, it would be cruel. If all evil were wiped out at midnight tonight, who among us would live to see the dawn?

I wouldn't.

No, he endures the pain that comes with the love in order to redeem as many of us who are willing.

But that's not all.

He's invested Himself in the process of healing the wounds that have come from our choice by entering into the suffering process with us in order to lift us out of it. God Himself in human form came to earth in the person of Jesus and suffered. He knows about pain. He knows about rejection. He knows about hunger, injustice, and cruelty - because he has experienced it.

First hand.

An ancient graffito on the Palatine shows a crucified figure with a donkey's head, bearing the inscription "Alexamenos worships his god." While meant to disparage and even mock, the image rings true. We worship, as German theologian Jurgen Moltmann observed, the crucified God.

Jesus on the cross was God entering into the reality of human suffering, experiencing it just like we do, in order to demonstrate that even when we used our free will to reject him, his love never ended. But this was not suffering for its own sake, but suffering so that we might use our free will and choose again.

And that this time, the choice would be the right one.

Frederick Buechner put it this way: "Like a father saying about his sick child, ‘I'd do anything to make you well,' God finally calls his own bluff and does it." The ultimate deliverance, the most significant healing, the most strategic rescue, has come. My greatest and most terrible affliction has been addressed. God has given me the greatest answer to my questions.

He has given me Himself.

So the real question is whether I will allow the reality of pain and suffering of this world to drive me away from God, or to God, where he can wrap his arms around me and walk with me through its darkest night toward the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

For His will be the final word, and it will be not only good, but best.

I am reminded how the song "40," based on the 40th Psalm, often marked the end of U2 concerts following the events of September 11, 2001. As the band toured around the world in support of their CD "All That You Can't Leave Behind," tens of thousands of people nightly could be heard singing the refrain, "How long (to sing this song)".

Bono, lead singer of the group, reflected, "How long...hunger? How long...hatred? How long until creation grows up and the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalizing of such questions could bring such comfort: to me too."

But this is precisely what does bring comfort – hope that lives within the now and the not yet. Bold living in light of our fallen-ness, and a frank embrace of the realities of a fallen world, is the mark of faith. It embraces the emotional anguish, but never lets the emotions grow beyond the shadow of the character of God – or the knowledge of the story at hand.

The truth is that God loves passionately, and lives with the pain of that love more than we could ever imagine.

And that is the greater story – the one in which I must place my own.

James Emery White

Sources

Conor Finnegan, "Online conversations around Sandy feature God, prayer and atheism," CNN, October 30, 2012, read online.

Langdon Gilkey, Shantung Compound.

Philip Yancey, Where is God When It Hurts?

Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy.

On Chesterton: This is widely attributed to Chesterton without protest, considered to be the basis for his 1910 work, What's Wrong with the World, and has never been attributed to anyone else. Chestertonians consider it valid, and reflective of his humility and wit (see the official web site of the American Chesterton Society at www.chesterton.org), but alas, there is no documentary evidence.

David Van Biema, "When God Hides His Face," Time, July 16, 2001.

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.

Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God.

Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking.

Bono, Selections from the Book of Psalms.

Editor's Note

Dr. James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press).

Source: Church & Culture Blog Vol. 8, No. 88

A Long and Winding Road

by Micca Campbell

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

When my daughter was just a toddler she began having reoccurring infections. With every one, she ran a high fever that sometimes resulted in a small seizure. This illness required that she stay on a low-dose antibiotic to prevent infection.

Sadly, the infections kept happening. Soon the doctor feared that this infection could cause damage to her kidneys. So by the time she was two years old, my husband and I had to make some serious decisions.

We could keep her on the antibiotics and hope she would outgrow the illness with minimal damage. Or, she could have surgery. There were risks either way.

Keeping her on antibiotics for a long period of time could make them less effective if she got future illnesses. Plus, we had to consider the risk of her kidneys being damaged. Then there was surgery-which had risks all it's own.

Faced with a decision that required wisdom beyond us, I kept thinking, "There's got to be an easier way."

At times the road before me seems long, steep and challenging. I can feel lost. Uncertain. Afraid. Sometimes I'm not sure I have the strength for the journey.

It's in those times that God wants me to remember I'm not traveling alone. He is my ever-present guide. He knows where the road leads. He can see what lies ahead. And that's not all.

God also knows my concerns. He knows what I feel. The pain I cannot explain to someone else ... God knows. The fear of the unknown-He knows. And He offers me Himself.

Perhaps you feel overwhelmed today. You may be experiencing some sadness, loss or worry. You may find that God has called you to a difficult path. "Surely," you think, "God has an easier road for me to travel."

The truth is, we aren't wise enough to assume another path would be best for us. Maybe the easier road won't make us into the person God intends us to be.

Perhaps the difficult road is a path of grace-protecting us from the worst.

Maybe this road is about learning something new about God or ourselves. Could it be the difficult journey is the path that prepares us for a greater purpose or a greater faith in God?

After much prayer, we felt led to have the surgery. It went well. Our daughter was able to come off her medicine and live a healthy life!

So, what did I learn? Out of all the possible paths, God knows the best path. Our key verse reminds us, "His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts." Because of this, we can take the path God has laid out for us today. We can trust, and not fear, in His infinite wisdom and love. And we can be certain that God will never lead us down the wrong road.

Dear Lord, because You will never lead me down the wrong road, I can trust You when I need to make decisions about my family, my career, and my health. Thank You for Your wisdom and guidance. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:

God sees a million other connections to your situation than you do. Therefore, He knows the best path to take.

Seek His guidance through prayer, a godly friend, counselor, and in His Word. Watch for a reoccurring answer marked by peace. Then choose to walk that path.

Power Verse:

Psalms 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." (NIV)

© 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved. Source: Encouragement for Today

How to Weather Life's Storms

by Dr. Julie Barrier

Fierce, contrary winds whipped the waves of the Galilean Sea like a frothy meringue. Jesus' rag-tag team shivered in their sandals as their tiny wooden skiff tossed about on the choppy sea. White-knuckled, Jesus' motley crew squinted hard to see the shoreline. A ghostly apparition approached the tiny vessel. Wide-eyed, the crew saw that it was Jesus, tip-toeing over the surface of the water. Frozen by fear, the sudden appearance of their Master gave them a glimmer of hope.

Could this really be Jesus?

Peter, the off-again on-again disciple, called out to the Lord and asked Him if he could join his wave-walking. Jesus said yes, and Peter leapt out of the boat. No dunking, no drowning. His cohorts were stunned. Their rough-and-tumble buddy was doing the miraculous. But not for long. Peter, feeling his oats, decided to wave to the other disciples behind him and started gloating over floating.

Then the whole miracle started to unravel. When the crusty fisherman took his eyes off of the prize and broke His gaze on Jesus, he dipped lower and lower beneath the surface of the water. Terrified, Peter screamed for his Holy Lifeguard to pull him out of the deep. Ever faithful, Jesus took Peter's hand and safely returned him to the boat.

You may be facing a storm today. You begin to feel a breeze or a ripple. Your company is downsizing, your mortgage is upside-down. A gust becomes a gale. Your husband walks out the door, leaving you with three kids and a broken heart. Your biopsy report comes back and it's bad -- really bad. You start to submerge. Where's Jesus? It's foggy and you're frantic.

Are you a storm chaser-borrowing future peril before the pestilence hits? Rumors of global economic meltdown, Iranian and Israeli war brewing, droughts and gas shortages loom ahead. Now you are treading water and the Christ is nowhere to be found. What happened to the "Life-Savior"? He has never moved. But we are suffocated by panic and struggle to return to the wooden skiff.

We often deride Peter for his failure to trust His Messiah. We call him impulsive, reckless and immature. But at least Peter got out of the boat. Do you? Have you learned to float? Here's a simple swimming lesson from my childhood.

One balmy June morning in my sixth year of life, Daddy tried to teach me the fine art of "cannon-balling" off the diving board into his awaiting arms. He failed to notice my little sister Kathy. “Tiger Lil” (an apt nickname) was aggravated at being ignored and decided to swim to the deep end where we were splashing. Three-year-old Kathy had never read about Peter, but she had similar inspiration. She wanted to go see her daddy.

Kathy's idea of swimming was taking a brisk walk on the bottom of the pool. Dad shot toward her like a rocket and carefully explained to her that there is no air under the water. Mom was a land-lubber. She thought it unladylike and distasteful to get wet in public. After a heated discussion, they concurred that we needed swimming lessons.

Mavis Wilford (we nick-named her Mavis Wafflebottom) had leathery, pruny legs the size of tree trunks. Her faded, checkered swimsuit with the pleated petal skirt had seen many summers of dog-paddling and pool-floundering. Mavis was hard-core. Nobody left her class without a respectable American Crawl.

I'm sure Mavis was Baptist because her first lesson included a swift kick to the rear and full immersion. Her little charges bobbed to the top, screaming and sputtering. But their little arms flapped and their fat feet kicked ‘til they stayed topside. Gentler swim teachers wasted time with gentle bubble-blowing and face-dipping in the shallow end. Wimps.

Strong and sturdy Mavis was not affable or patient, but she got the job done. We could dive, thrive and shoot across the pool confidently and consistently. "Keep your head up, let the water lift you, and swim to me," she barked. Day after day Mavis chanted her mantra for success. "Keep your head up, let the water lift you, and swim to me..." The laws of hydrology never change. Water-displacement and buoyancy will support any human, no matter how portly or clumsy. We learned to swim to Mavis. She never left our sights.

Do you feel yourself slowly submerging? I have of late. Jesus is giving me a refresher course in water-walking 101. Most of my life I've been as healthy as a horse. I was the caretaker for all the hurting people around me. I was proud of my firm faith and flotation skills. But now I'm dipping beneath the surface of the water. Severe asthma steals my air and I fear I'll drown. Daily, quietly, I hear my Jesus whisper, "Be still. I breathed life into Adam and I will be your air. Narrow your focus and reach out your hand. Stop floundering. Float on my grace and cling to my promises like a life raft."

The storm has made me stronger, and my surrender into His awaiting arms has made my moments sweeter. "Keep your head up, let His grace hold you up and come to me," He cries. You'll be "walking on water" before you know it!

About The Author:

For over 25 years, Dr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, has been in demand as a national and international conference speaker, addressing topics such as marriage, ministry, Biblical study, and women's issues in 32 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of the Preach It, Teach It website, www.preachitteachit.org, providing sermons, devotionals, blogs, and videos by 100 internationally renowned teachers and authors. She is an adjunct Professor at the Dixon School of Church Music at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. In their 35-year ministry at Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona, Julie has served as a minister of worship, orchestra conductor, and arranger. Dr. Barrier is the author or composer of over 100 published works: books, articles, devotionals, dramas, choral and orchestral pieces. Her latest book is 'Bored in Big Church: Recollections of a Church Brat and Tattletale' (Xulon Press, 2011).

Health Tip: Dengue Fever Remedy - Papaya Leaf Juice
I would like to share this interesting discovery from a classmate's son who has just recovered from dengue fever.

Apparently, his son was in the critical stage at the ICU when his blood platelet count dropped to 15 after 15 liters of blood transfusion.

His father was so worried that he sought another friend's recommendation and his son was saved. He confessed to me that he gave his son raw juice of the papaya leaves.

From a platelet count of 45 after 20 liters of blood transfusion, and after drinking the raw papaya leaf juice, his platelet count jumped instantly to 135. Even the doctors and nurses were surprised. After the second day, he was discharged.

You need 2 raw papaya leaves.  Clean them thoroughly; pound and then squeeze with filter cloth. You will only get one tablespoon per leaf. So two tablespoon per serving once a day. Do not boil or cook or rinse with hot water, it will reduce its strength. Use only the leafy part; no stem or sap. It is very bitter and you have to swallow it like "Won Low Kat". But it works.

Papaya Juice - Cure for Dengue

Papaya juice is a natural cure for dengue fever. As dengue fever is rampant now, I think it's good to share this with all.

A friend of mine had dengue last year.. It was a very serious situation for her as her platelet count had dropped to 28 after 3 days in hospital and water has started to fill up her lung. She had difficulty in breathing. She was only 32-years old. Doctor says there's no cure for dengue. We just have to wait for her body immune system to build up resistance against dengue and fight its own battle. She already had 2 blood transfusion and all of us were praying very hard as her platelet continued to drop since the first day she was admitted.

Fortunately her mother-in-law heard that papaya juice would help to reduce the fever and got some papaya leaves, pounded them and squeezed the juice out for her. The next day, her platelet count started to increase, her fever subsided. We continued to feed her with papaya juice and she recovered after 3 days!!!

Amazing but it's true. It's believed one's body would be overheated when one is down with dengue and that also caused the patient to have fever. Papaya juice has cooling effect. Thus, it helps to reduce the level of heat in one's body, thus the fever will go away. I found that it's also good when one is having sore throat or suffering from heat.

Editor's Note:

THE CONTENT AND INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE ARE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT MAY NOT BE CONSTRUED AS MEDICAL ADVICE, AND WE DO NOT INTEND FOR THIS INFORMATION TO BE USED TO DIAGNOSE OR PRESCRIBE FORMS OF TREATMENT. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN FOR MEDICAL ADVICE.

Family Special: How to Deal with Unemployment

by Jennifer Slattery

About six years ago, our family went through a period of unemployment. Fear and bitterness consumed me, and although I knew in my head I needed to cling hard to God, my heart propelled me in the other direction. Through that experience I learned that God is good even when life is hard, and His love is greater than our emotions.

In the Christian community, it's easy to lump all negative emotions as sin. We read commands to rejoice during trials and assume depression is failure, but biblical joy is not a temporary, surface emotion. According to John C. Hutchinson, author of Thinking Right When Things Go Wrong, "The biblical teaching of joy or rejoicing has more to do with confidence in one's convictions than it does with emotion." Joy is a deep assurance that God is good even when life is not. This is not an emotional stance, but instead, a choice of belief.

Emotions aren't good or bad. Throughout Scripture we read accounts of faith-filled men and women continually used by God who went through periods of depression and experienced intense anger. Elijah grew depressed and wanted to die. In the Psalms David expressed moments of great pain. Job poured out his heart in an expression of raw, honest emotions. He even accused God of hunting him down like a lion. Yet God didn't condemn Job, but instead, reminded Job of his limited understanding.

Be honest. God already knows how you feel and what you're thinking anyway. Praying through your feelings will help draw you to God.

We may wonder: "Is it okay to be mad at God?" This makes me think of my relationship with my daughter and the countless times she's been mad at me.

When our daughter was eight we moved and it hit her hard. One day, she scrunched her pudgy face, balled her fists and yelled, "I hate you!"

That hurt. A lot. Not because of her words, but because I saw the pain beneath them. What I wanted most was not to scold her, but to hold her. To draw her into my arms and to comfort her with my love.

Psalm 103:13-14 tells me God feels the same about us:

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

Draw near to God and resist the urge to pull away.

Emotional pain, whatever the cause, has a tendency to lead to isolation. No matter what we are going through, no matter how we may feel, God wants to be our all-in-all. He wants us to draw near to Him, trusting in His love and unfailing nature, even if everything we see points to the contrary. James 4:8 makes us a promise: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

Whether we feel Him or not, God is there. He won't leave, no matter how much we rant or rave.

Drawing near to God during our times of trial helps, but often it's not enough. It's also important not to isolate ourselves. God placed us in a family of believers for a reason. His desire is that we would turn to one another during our time of need. The world values independence, but God encourages interdependence.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reminds us of the importance of living in community - of leaning on others during our time of need:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

When dealing with unemployment, this can be hard. We live by an unspoken, faulty belief that says, "If you work hard, you'll find success." But the Bible says differently and promises we'll experience difficulty. Yet, no matter what happens, everything is first filtered through the hand of a loving God. Which means every tear and heartache has a purpose.

We know this intellectually, but that truth can be hard to grasp. It's easy to assume God is somehow against us or we are being punished for some unknown sin.

I believe this view comes from a misunderstanding of the word discipline. The Bible tells us that God disciplines those He loves, and in our "time-out" world, we've come to equate discipline as punishment. But the word itself, paideuo in the Greek, means "a child under development with strict training" – properly, to train up a child (país), so they mature and realize their full potential (development).

When I think of God's discipline - His training to maturity - I remember my time as a track coach. I had two types of athletes: those who came to spend time with friends and those who came to win. During practice, I focused on those who wanted to win, and I pushed them hard, watching them closely, driving them to their brink in order to bring out their best.

Intentionally focus on the unchanging nature of Christ. God is a God of mercy, love, and truth who always does what is right. His every action is rooted in love because He loves us deeply and is intimately involved in our lives. His goal is not to break us, but instead, to raise us up like a prize athlete, victorious and free. Like Job, we may not always understand why we must go through trials like unemployment. We may react with intense anger and despair, but God remains faithful and promises to carry us through it. Knowing this allows us to be honest and authentic with our emotions, and to draw near to God in confidence, knowing He's on our side.

About the Author:

Jennifer Slattery lives in the midwest with her husband and their teenage daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the ACFW Journal, the Christian Pulse, and Internet Cafe Devotions. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and compilation projects. Visit her online at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud.

Source: Live It Devotional

Humor: Mysterious deaths that made even top doctors wonder......
This case happened in a hospital's Intensive care ward where patients always died in the same bed and on every Sunday morning at 11 a.m, regardless of their medical condition.

This puzzled the doctors and some even thought that it had something to do with the supernatural.

No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths took place at 11 AM.

So a world-wide expert team was constituted and they decided to go down to the ward to investigate the cause of the incidents. So, on next Sunday morning few minutes before 11 am., all doctors and nurses nervously waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about.

Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books and other holy objects to ward off evil........

Just when the clock struck 11:00 am...

And then......

Then.....

Then.....

ARE YOU READY?

Are you sure you can handle this?

Then.....

Then.....

Santa Singh, the part-time Sunday sweeper, entered the ward whistling a tune and casually unplugged the life support system & plugged in the vacuum cleaner.

About Malankara World
With over 6000 articles and hundreds of links to outside resources covering all aspects of Syriac Orthodoxy that are of interest to Family, Malankara World is the premier source for information for Malankara Diaspora. In addition to articles on spirituality, faith, sacraments, sermons, devotionals, etc., Malankara World also has many general interest articles, health tips, Food and Cooking, Virtual Travel, and Family Specific articles. Please visit Malankara World by clicking here or cut and paste the link on your browser: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/default.htm

Malankara World Journal Subscription

If you are not receiving Malankara World Journal directly, you may sign up to receive it via email free of cost. Please click here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Register/news_regn.asp

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Malankara World Journal Archives

Previous Issues of Malankara World Journal can be read from the archives here.

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Thank you for your help and support.

Malankara World Team

Malankara World Journal is published by MalankaraWorld.com http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/
Copyright © 2011-2012 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.