God's Dream For The World, Trusting God in hard times

Imago Dei – When God’s Image Shows Up

Our smoothly sailing life got a little bit ruffled with both of our kids falling sick at the same time. What was thought to be a common cold and cough worsened with time and both of them were admitted in two different hospitals. 

My son developed breathing difficulties and was kept in ICU for a couple of days for oxygen support and my daughter was beginning to develop pneumonia and was being treated for the same.

Things got disoriented and due to the COVID protocol, it was a bit challenging to deal with all the hospital procedures. While my husband stayed with my son, I stayed with my daughter in the hospital.

It was the first time both of them fell very sick together and we found ourselves stressed out both physically and emotionally. When my son was admitted in the hospital, his absence in the home made me saddened. The silence at home sounded louder than the noise and mess he used to make being at home. For the first time the house looked tidy, everything in the house was in its place, except him. My daughter on the other side was struggling with her health challenges. The fever and increasing cough made her too weak. When Asher was discharged, the same day she was admitted.

This was a trying time for us as a family but God was with us. Most importantly, this time we could feel Him, hear Him, talk to Him, experience His help and His compassion, His touch, His assuring and comforting words and His presence in the most authentic and real ways. In other words we saw Him……

During this challenging period, we weren’t all alone. Our loving family members stood by us throughout this difficult time. Our friends came over to offer their help for the hospital stays and other related conveniences. The Esther prayer group’s sisters offered their continued prayers for us. Asher’s home-schooling community families supported us with their prayers and calls and few of my friends whom I had never met but who were just connected with me through the blog, backed me up with their messages and prayers. Also, we met very kind hospital staff and doctors who were so empathetic, caring and relational.

During my stay with my daughter in hospital, the nurses walked the extra mile with me as I looked after her. They helped me in ways which were not part of their duty. They offered their help in wonderful ways. When I was alone in the room with my daughter, some of the nurses would just come over to ask if I was OK. They would talk with me and listen long as I told them about Jennie. Some would simply visit to see if she was improving in her health. They called her “Vave” (baby) with love. They made sure that she gets less pain as they gently inserted cannula, gave injections and took out blood for the tests from her fragile hands. Every evening, a very graceful and softly-spoken catholic nun would visit the patients to pray for them. When she would visit us, she would run her fingers through Jennie’s hair and talk to her. She would spend extra time to know about her health.

Through these supportive, loving, kind, helpful and caring people, we experienced God’s constant presence with us in our hardships. He showed up through the people whom He put in our lives. 

I am a “let me carry my own cross” type person. I hesitate to take help from others. I am like that drowning man who trusts God for his rescue but refuses to take help from the people who are willing to help him. He believes that God will save him but He doesn’t realise that God is helping him through the people He has sent for his rescue.

In the creation narrative in Genesis, we read that God made man in His own image and likeness.

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

As I think deeply about this verse, I understand that God has endowed His attributes upon humans as He created them. Man is to show God’s invisible image through his visible life. It’s not that God possesses human-like features but it’s more about God’s Spirit which dwells in humans. God is invisible, He is a Spirit but He surely manifests himself through humans – His unique creations. Humans are the visible reflections, the imprints of the invisible God.   

In Asher’s English grammar syllabus, I was confused in classifying “God” as a concrete or abstract noun. Concrete nouns name a physical object which can be experienced with the five senses while abstract nouns are a concept, quality or condition which can’t be experienced with the five senses. We can’t sense God through five senses. We can’t see Him, hear Him, or touch Him. So how can we put God in the concrete noun category? We can…because the world He made is concrete. His Son Jesus whom He sent was in the human form and the human beings He created in His image and likeness are concrete too. Through them we can definitely sense God, His touch, His healing, His voice, His comfort, His assurance, His love, His kindness, His compassion and His blessings too.

I have no answers to the question, “why are sufferings there and why does God allow them?” But I am beginning to realise that it’s only in the midst of pain we can fully experience His healing touch; only in need we can fully experience His provision; only in brokenness can we fully experience His love; only in loneliness can we fully experience His presence; only in hardships and emotional upheaval can we fully experience His comfort and only in the life’s storms we can fully experience our faith in Him. When there is pain, there will be love, mercy, compassion, comfort, care and empathy and we as His image bearers are called to demonstrate them to the suffering world through our lives.

We are the “Imago Dei“, His image; the concrete reflection of Him to the world. Let others see Him and experience Him through each one of our lives! 

My Life His Rules

Do You Consider “Small Things” Small?

“Do Small Things With Great Love” – My T-shirt has these words written on it. I often wear it at home but never really reflected on its message. Interestingly, who really wants to do small things or even regard them as important right? To be honest, all of us wish for doing something big, something extraordinary and remarkable, something which will bring us applause, admiration, recognition and probably self-satisfaction and a sense of greatness.

The world tells us to go big or go home. You are only admired and considered great when you are successful enough in every area of life. So, somehow we have subscribed to this notion – Big things = Greatness.

For most of my life, I’d believed the same thing. Perhaps, this was one of the reasons I was never quite content with the life I was given. I tried having it all fixed together. I begged God to change my circumstances. I cried millions of tears for having children with special needs. I wanted a different life. Being there for my children’s needs felt like I was trapped between four walls at home. I tried doing different things and works which I thought would bring value to my life and a sense of greatness and fulfilment. I tried to search meaning and purpose for my life outside of God’s plans. Instead of paying close attention to what He wanted me to do, I went on to navigate what I wished for. I refused to do “small things” in order to do big things and do them merely for some sort of recognition.

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God's Dream For The World

The Guessing Game Of “Whys”

The people who struggle with life’s challenges, loss, grief, or any other major hardships or painful tragedies, constantly wrestle with the question “why?” They can explain to you what has happened, when it has happened, where it has happened, and how it has happened, but the “whys” remain unanswered most of the time. And we aren’t an exception to this either. My husband and I are trying to make the best sense of our different life, we are trying to overcome our pain with hope, positivity and perseverance, and we are also trying to find the “why” along the way in our daughter’s case. 

Sometimes, It’s a hard situation to be in. It’s a whirlpool of different emotions, thoughts and unanswered questions. But what makes it even harder is when others try to assume different answers to those “whys,” when others try to fill in those blanks with the reasons they want to choose. Its hard when others play the guessing game for your “whys”.

A person we met recently, claimed that our daughter’s medical condition is a result of a servant of God cursing our family. Further, if there are any grudges we hold against anyone, we must reconcile with them. He was sure that there is a curse on our family. He shared this out of his personal experiences. We were meeting him for the first time. His statements seemed humiliating as well as sort of disturbing to our nearly healed wounds. We wondered: How could he be so insensitive?

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Encouragement, Faithfulness of God, Prayer matters, Special Parenthood

From Alone To Belong

Home-schooling my son has been a lonely and daunting journey for me for the last three years. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to quit as there were times I just couldn’t make it successfully through the day.

I had always felt inadequate being his teacher. My graduate studies are incomplete, which made me doubt even more my abilities as a better educator. I had tried my best to teach him but I was always concerned that he might miss out on the essential things in his studies which only a proficient teacher can teach.

He is being home-schooled by me because he was denied admission in schools due to his inattention issues. It was disheartening to see him being rejected. The rejection could make things even emotionally difficult for a 6 year-old. I didn’t want his gifts and skills to be trampled on before they blossom. So, I needed to take initiative to continue his studies despite my challenges.

These years I have been in a fog of confusion.  Even as I felt lonely, my son felt lonely too, as he couldn’t be a part of any school and have friends. I have been praying and searching for a suitable school, or an experienced home-schooling family which might guide me along. But there wasn’t any evident result of my persistent search or answer to my prayers.

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Prayer matters

“Praying For You” Really??

The news about the second wave of covid-19, and the rapidly rising numbers of positive cases, was all over India during the months of April and May. The social media messages were filled with sad emojis 😥and praying hands🙏🏼 during this time. Many people I knew were also affected by the virus and few of them even lost their lives due to it.

“Please remember my family friend in your prayers. He is Covid positive. He is in critical condition and is on oxygen support.” This was the message I received from one of my friends during the same time. I assured her of my prayers as I saw her message. “Sure! I will pray,” I replied instantly. While closing the chat tab, I whispered a prayer in my mind for him and went on to do the household work.

Later on, I didn’t remember praying for him or asking about his health until few days later, when the virus hit my own family. When I saw my husband struggle with severe cough during the night, and the way the virus was causing emotional and physical chaos to us, I realised the seriousness of covid-19.

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Faithfulness of God, Trusting God in hard times

When You Can’t Have Your Own Way!

A few weeks back, we as a family, shifted back from Maharashtra which is in the northern part of India to Kerala in the South. For safe and swift travel, we considered flying, as it takes just 2-3 hours. Also during this pandemic time, it felt more convenient to fly – especially for our 7 year old daughter who has special needs. 

But, sadly, our flight kept getting cancelled for some or other reason. This happened three times in a row. It was very frustrating the third day. Every morning when we would do all the preparations for travel and announce that we are leaving, the very next day the notification of flight cancellation from the airline would pop onto my husband’s phone. It was a puzzling moment.

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Encouragement, You are made for more

On The Other Side Of Refiner’s Fire

Refiner’s fire – The word isn’t new for us as Christians. We have heard it in many sermons. There are many songs written about it. Many books and articles describe its analogy with life’s various trials. The Bible tells us how God refines our lives like silver or gold are refined in the furnace.

Isaiah 48:10 says, “Behold, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

We are like a lump of unrefined metal in His hands. He is our refiner. Just like the refiner sees the value of the unrefined metal and what it can become, our Master Refiner sees the richness and the value of our lives and what we can become.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.” Malachi 3:3

How does the refinement process for the silver or gold works? 

A metal such as gold or silver can be purified when it is melted at a high temperature. The dross or the impurities rises to the top and it is then removed from the metal before it cools down. The process of heating continues until the metal is pure. Though it seems like the fire will destroy the metal, it only makes it more pure and valuable.

“For you have tested us, O God; you have refined us as silver is refined.” Psalm 66:10

How does God’s refinement process work?

Certain trials or afflictions God allows in our lives because He has a purpose for them. But none of us really likes to be in this place. It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s painful, it’s inconvenient, it’s frightening and it’s hurting being here. But, just like the metal endures the process of its refining, you and I are to endure the process of our refining in the furnace of life’s trials. And this is only possible when we truly understand the refiner’s place in the metal’s life, when we choose His will and ways instead of our own, when we are willing to change when He reveals to us our impurities or our weaknesses and when we are willing to fully trust His heart of love in the process no matter how long it takes or how ‘hot’ it gets. 

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Faithfulness of God, Trusting God in hard times

When The Perfect Comes…

On 9th April, I received a voice mail from my friend Sheetal in the morning. A couple of months back, we were talking about God’s healing and about the same topic, she had shared her beautiful and deep insights with me. I listened to the mail and thanked her for her thoughtful message.

But little did I know that I would need her words in the next few weeks; or maybe, the voice message was preparing me in advance for the worst that was headed my way.

The very next day, my parents and my younger brother were tested positive for Covid -19. And within a few days’ time, my husband too was found infected by the virus. My biggest fear came true as the deadly virus had reached my dear ones when I least expected it.

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God's Dream For The World

I Held Back My Log Too!

A few days ago, I came across a beautiful poem written by James Patrick Kinney. He was an American poet who wrote the poem in 1960 during the African –American Civil Rights Movement. Even though this poem was written many years ago, it still speaks profound volumes to the one who reads it today. It made me reflect on each of its words too and do some soul searching to gain greater insights from it.

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Encouragement, Special Parenthood

When Others Can’t Feel The Intensity Of Your Pain

It has always been a very challenging and emotionally overwhelming situation for me when my husband travels out of town. I feel very helpless managing both the kids without his support and it just feels like I am a lonely soldier on a battlefield without any weapon.

I understand that it is required of him to travel but staying alone with children with special needs isn’t an easy task. The entire family schedule goes upside down. I am sleep deprived. I hardly get to have a bath or food on time. My 8 years old son’s only friend is his dad and he, being so attached to him, feels lonely and gloomy all the time. His only companion will be the laptop until his dad returns. My daughter on the other hand needs my much attention for her needs and I have to carry her around the house even to get a glass of water for myself when she cries and refuses to stay on the bed by herself.

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