Paul Simon’s song, “Mother and Child Reunion” starts with the lines, “No I would not give you false hope, on this strange and mournful day.”
Simon said the title came from the name of a Chinese dish of chicken and eggs by the same name. What the song actually meant has been a source of speculation.
However, the idea of false hope is an intriguing subject. Is there “false hope”? On one hand, it seems that hope is based on the desires of the moment. Are such desires to be brushed aside? Do we not hope against hope? Yes.
On the other hand, can there be false hope based on a faulty understanding of the source of that hope?
While visiting Rich Crites in the hospital, I saw a man go in and out of a room who looked familiar. I since think I know where I’ve seen him, because he is in a place frequented by the public.
One day as I was getting on the elevator to leave the hospital, he also got on. He asked if I was visiting family or a friend. “A friend,” I said. I asked him the same question. He said it was his wife. I asked how she was doing and he said she had multiple problems. I said I was sorry to hear that, and that was about the time we reached the ground floor. As he exited, he said, “She will be all right. We have claimed the gift of healing.” Which, as I understand it, means they had laid a claim on God, or Jesus, and the therefore, the wife will be healed. I thought of the lines from Paul Simon’s song.
Why do I feel that way? It is not because hope should not be part of he and his wife’s lives. It is because somewhere, somehow, someone taught them they could claim a “gift” and it would be so. As I read the Bible, I don’t find that. I do find those who healed, and sometimes the word “gift” was within the context. On the other hand, in Luke, when Jesus sent out his disciples he just told them to heal the sick. In Matthew it says he gave them authority to heal and cast out demons. I’m not sure “authority” means he gave them the gift of healing, but it might. Even at that, it seems it wasn’t a solid thing because none of them could heal the boy while Jesus was being transfigured. (Mark 9) A search of the New Testament will find scant references to healing beyond the gospels.
Why would healing be, without a doubt, the most sought after gift to claim? Because the problem of illness is the most universal malady there is. No one is immune. Illness also leads to death, and death, Paul says is the last enemy.
In reading through Acts on Wednesday evenings, we came to the part where Paul and his companions were in a violent storm off the coast of Malta. In Acts 27: 20, Luke writes, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” Of course, they were not lost at sea, but Luke says “we finally gave up hope of being saved.” Who is the “we”? Was it Paul as well as Luke and the others? Yes. Even Paul. He had said before the journey started that they would all be lost. In 27:10 he said, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.”
Remember, in Acts 23:11 it says, “The Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Paul never says he will not die on the way because he “claimed” the vision of the Lord that he would stand in Rome. In fact, he accepts the fact that he could die on the way, hence his comment to the commander about the disaster that lay ahead if they set sail.
Even though Paul had a divine commission to preach the gospel of inclusion to the Gentiles, he never felt he could claim the gift of safety. In II Corinthians 1:8 Paul writes that in Asia it was so bad that “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.”
Again, they survived, and Paul said it was to make them trust God more. But the point is, Paul, even though he had a personal commission to do what he was doing, never used that as some claim that God had to keep him alive.
Anyone who reads the Bible knows that the randomness of life presents constant inquiries. The Psalms are full of such questions. The book of Job addresses the problem. And each examination ends with some kind of an answer that is not a complete answer, because the question is asked again and again. It is a question that will be asked as long as time.
I hope the man’s wife recovers. I also know that while he said they had claimed the gift of healing, the very fact that she is in a hospital being treated by doctors, means he believes that “claim” needs some help. So I understand, except I hope he doesn’t feel God did not honor the “claim” and let them down if she dies. Since I don’t know their name, that’s something I may never know, or need to.
What those who believe in God know, is when things happen over which we have no control, we want God to control it for us. I don’t think that is offensive to God. I think it is to be expected. The danger in that is when God has to do what we ask, or claim. In saying that I’m not about to explain why God does or doesn’t do what we ask. Any attempt I’d make at that would fall short, way short. Each of us has to wade through that on our own. Each one of us has to find a hope, or a strength to stand on. What works for one person will not work for the other. Although absorbing their hopes into our lives may help us find our own “rock” on which to cling.
One thing I know, or am pretty sure I know, is putting a claim on God, no matter how many scriptures someone may quote, doesn’t make it so. I think Jesus knew that when he asked, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.”
CONCERNS: Rich Crites will be in rehab at Raleigh Court Health and Rehab, room 119 while he rebuilds his strength. Roger Fisher’s brother, Woody Fisher, is in failing health. Debra McRoy’s cousin, Harold Tidwell, has stage 4 brain cancer as well as heart problems. Larry Foy’s brother fell and is not doing well. Jim Hunter is still having issues related to diabetes. Former member, Betty Shepherd’s kidney’s have failed and she needs a transplant. T. J. Hall is still having problems getting his blood pressure regulated. Wayne Phlegar has been unable to get out lately. Remember Bill Albert’s son, David
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 22-27
Monday: Matthew 22:1-22
Tuesday: Colossians 1:21-2:7
Wednesday: John 6:52-71
Thursday: Romans 7:1-12
Friday: Matthew 23:1-22
Saturday: Psalm 114:1-8
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUN. 29-JULY 4
Monday: Matthew 22:23-40
Tuesday: John 2:13-25
Wednesday: Proverbs 3:1-18
Thursday: Jonah 2:1-10
Friday: Matthew 23:23-39
Saturday: Psalm 127:1-5
On Sunday evening, June 7th, Margaret (Maggie) Foy was baptized into Christ here at the building.
It is always wonderful to see the children of parents who have taught their children, as well as the children being exposed to and taught by their church experience, respond to the love and grace of God.
Congratulations to John Bolin, who was elected Hidden Valley High School’s senior class president for the 2015-16 school year.
As you can see, the construction of the sidewalk by the city in front of our property, while cutting into some of the parking spaces, has provided us with two redone entrances to the parking lot.
According to the contractor, they will be relining the parking area so as too not reduce our parking, at least by too many spaces.
PHOTOS FROM THE GRADUATION BANQUET
James Downing took and posted pictures from the graduation banquet. If you would like to see them, go to our web site: ronokechurchofchrist.com Thanks James and to all who made it a wonderful evening with food and fun.
You may or may not have noticed that the back pew on the side toward the hill has been shortened so that it lines up with the rest. When we developed the handicapped restroom we also had to widen the area from the handicapped parking area door in front of the cry room. This meant the removal on one short pew and adjusting the other, which did not match the alignment of the rest. Jim White has taken care of that.
We will also replace the short pew that was originally there with a shorter version. Thanks Jim!
Today is Super Sunday. It is also Father’s Day. Stay and treat dad to a meal.