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Posts from November 2009

Where Is God When It Hurts?

Sunday's message continues to roll around in my mind.  This idea of trusting God seems so obvious and natural, yet not easy.  Oh it's easy to say "trust God" when things are going well, but when life is falling apart. . .then it's not so easy.

I don't know.  I guess it's the honesty surrounding the concept that is making folks say "Wow, this was just for me."  You see, there have been times for me when trusting God has been everything but easy.  I grew up in the church.  I know the way church people are supposed to act.  I know the "religious cliches" and all but when you're in the valley, these don't suffice.

So, I find myself back in Proverbs 3 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." 

In some talks I've had with folks just this week, the question comes us "Where is God when it hurts?"

Here's a good answers from

It seems we desire to know the answer to this question most when faced with painful trials and attacks of doubt. Even Jesus, during His crucifixion, asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). To the onlookers of that time, as well as to those who first read the story, it seems that God did forsake Jesus, so we obviously conclude that He will forsake us as well in our darkest moments. Yet, upon continued observation of the events that unfolded after the crucifixion, the truth was revealed that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death (Romans 8:37-39). After Jesus was crucified, He was glorified (1 Peter 1:21, Mark 16:6,19; Romans 4:24-25). From this example alone we can be assured that even when we do not feel God’s presence in the midst of our pain, we can still believe His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). “God sometimes permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves” (Joni Erickson Tada).

We put our trust in the fact that God does not lie, He never changes, and His word stands true forever (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Psalm 110:4, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 7:21, 13:8, James 1:17, 1 Peter 1:25). We do not lose heart over painful circumstances because we live by faith in every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God, not putting our hope in what is seen or perceived. We trust God that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs all the suffering that we will endure on this earth. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, because we know and believe that what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:7). We also trust God’s Word which says He is constantly working things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Even though we do not always see the good ends to which God is working things out, we can be assured that a time will come when we will understand and see more clearly.

Our lives are like the illustration of a quilt. If you look at the back side of a quilt, all you see is a mess of knots and loose ends hanging out all over. It is very unattractive and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the work. Yet when you turn the quilt over, you see how the maker has craftily woven together each strand to form a beautiful creation, much like the life of a believer (Isaiah 64:8). We live with a limited understanding for the things of God, yet a day is coming when we will know and understand all things (Job 37:5, Isaiah 40:28 Ecclesiastes 11:5, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 John 3:2). Where is God when it hurts? The message to take with you in hard times is that when you can’t see His hand, trust His heart, and know for certain that He has not forsaken you. When you seem to have no strength of your own, that’s when you can most fully rest in His presence and know that His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Veterans Day Article by Jack Tarkington

My dad is the city manager in Paris, Tennessee.  He writes a weekly article for the local paper - the Paris Post-Intelligencer.  I thought it would be appropriate to repost his article from this week, focused on Veterans Day.

My dad, Jack Tarkington, served in the US Air Force for over 25 years.  Through his life, I learned what it meant to be patriotic, God fearing and one who honors the men and women who have served our nation valiantly.

In his articles, he often refers to men and women in the Paris, Tennessee region that he grew up with.

Here's this week's article:

Jack The first part of September kicked off the beginning of the school year, the official end of summer and the beginning of the holiday season.

In most people’s minds, Labor Day is the inauguration of the holiday celebrations. For the next six months, there is at least one holiday per month. They run the gamut from those only celebrated in the United States to those celebrated around the world.

Some are religious, some patriotic, some honor individuals, some result in days off work for most everyone, some have no one off work, some only federal and bank employees celebrate, and some others seem to only be for the benefit of the florists and Hallmark.

Almost all the holidays have become so commercialized, their original intent has almost been lost.

Where each holiday used to have its special moment, now the commercialization has become so great, the ones that generate the most revenue for the retail industry are promoted for such an extended time that when the date arrives, it seems anti-climactic.

This is most evident with Christmas. It wasn’t that long ago that Christmas sales did not begin, nor decorations go up, until after Thanksgiving.

Now, these are happening right after Labor Day. At the current pace, it won’t be long until the Christmas sales begin in conjunction with the Fourth of July fireworks.

Most everyone will admit that, even though Christmas is a celebration based upon Christian tenants, it has become almost entirely a secular celebration that non-Christians readily celebrate.

There is only one holiday where those intended to be honored become the primary ones organizing any events associated with it, and then become the ones doing the honoring. That is Veterans Day.

Veterans Day, referred to years ago as Armistice Day, was established to recognize the signing of the treaty to end World War I. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month became the official date and time set aside for the recognition.

Not many years after its formal establishment, our country was drawn into World War II, and it took on a new meaning as patriotic sacrifice touched almost every family throughout the country. This tradition continued through the ’50s with our involvement in the Korean War.

It was only after the Baby Boomer generation came of age and the Vietnam War ensued did patriotic celebrations and recognition begin to wane. This trend continued throughout the end of the 20th century and only seemed to turn around after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

It is unfortunate it took something of this nature to remind everyone of veterans and what they have accomplished throughout the history of this country.

The veteran cannot necessarily be readily identified. To those of my generation, when we were growing up, he was always the age of our parents.

Most likely, he had been in the Army and spent an extended amount of time marching across Europe. A few had served in the Navy, fewer still in the Marines, and saw most of their duty in the Pacific.

There were others, closer to the age of our uncles and older brothers, who shipped off to Korea. Again, most were in the Army, several in the Marines, some in the Navy and now the Air Force, not the Army Air Corps.

Before long we came of age and became candidates to join the fraternity of veterans. The opportunity presented itself in an unglamorous and unpopular war in Vietnam.

The draft loomed for most young men turning 18 in the 1960s. If you did not get the school deferment, get in the National Guard or get married at an early age, it was pretty well a given you would get drafted into the Army to serve for two years. For those deferments, when they expired, the draft was waiting.

While the Army still had the most numbers, the Marines, Navy and Air Force were all actively involved in Vietnam, as was even the Coast Guard.

We would wait for the draft notice for our physicals or go see a recruiter to volunteer to avoid the draft. If we volunteered, we could choose a different branch of service than the Army. This worked for most of us.

Robert “Scooter” Miller and Don Speight were the exceptions. As they completed their draft physicals and prepared to head off to basic from the induction center, they were pulled aside with a few others and informed they would be spending the next two years in the Marine Corps instead of the Army.

Now, we of the Vietnam era are the veterans to our children that our parents were to us.

The generation after us still served, but it was all-volunteer and, while there were small conflicts and skirmishes around the world, there was almost 30 years between the pullout of Vietnam and beginning of the conflicts in the Mideast.

The face of the potential veteran had changed. It was now our children and grandchildren. It was a more-educated person. High-tech weapons and computers were the norm.

There were also those close to our age who previously had only served as backup support, the National Guard and the Reserve, who were now on the front.

The biggest change is that it is no longer just our husbands, sons and grandsons participating in the midst of conflict, but also our wives, daughters and granddaughters.

They are soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen. Like their fathers and grandfathers before them, they do what is asked of them to the best of their ability for as long as it takes.

There are several events occurring this week in the area intended to honor and recognize our veterans. Those responsible for coordinating these events are to be commended and thanked.

Those of us who are members of that elite fraternity thank you. We who have worn the military uniform, either for a short time or for a career, share a bond those who have not worn one cannot understand.

We are proud to be a Grunt, Swabbie, Jarhead, Flyboy or Coastie, and we have earned the right to jokingly refer to each other in those terms because, in the end, we were all serving for the same cause and would defend each other to the end.

Thanks, fellow vets; proud to be one of you.