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September, 2017: The Death of E Pluribus Unum

October, 2017: The Mystery of Yom Kippur

November, 2017: It's a Basic Faith We Need

December, 2017: Our Hope in the Future

January, 2018: When Faith Seems to Fail

February, 2018: A Little Lower Than the Angels

March, 2018: Celebrate God in Your Life!

When Faith Seems to Fail

By Rev. Simeon Stefanidakis


Several weeks ago, yet another woman, who had recently lost her husband through some rather tragic circumstances, came to see me. Over the years, I have come to recognize the look quite readily. As soon as she walked through the door of the parsonage, I knew she was devastated and lost; I knew she was suffering a pain so deep, so agonizing; a pain of the heart that very few of us experience; and I knew she had given up.

Everything was going for them; and, then, it happened. The question which burned in this woman’s soul was, quite understandably: why had God taken her husband away from her, through such a senseless act of violence?

When she left, I could still feel her husband wandering through the parsonage with me. I could feel his fear and his concern. I could feel his anguish over his wife’s grief and sorrow. Even while I was offering communication to others that day, I saw him standing at the periphery of the light, weeping.

Just a week ago, we received an e-mail from a woman who had lost her son. Listen to what she said:

“Please help me continue to heal from the loss of my beloved son Michael. My heart is broken, and my spirit is shattered. I don’t know how to help my family recover from this tragedy. We have been set adrift in a sea of darkness and despair. Help us find our way home again.”

Did you hear this woman’s plea: “We have been set adrift in a sea of darkness and despair. Help us find our way home again.”

What do we do when it seems as if our faith is failing us? What do we do when we have done everything humanly possible to resolve a conflict or a trying situation in our lives? What do we do when all human avenues of resolves are exhausted? We go beyond that which is human including our own human failings and we turn to God. It is during these times that we must place our egos and our pride aside and say: God, I need help! God, I simply cannot do this alone. God, I need YOU! Help me in my poor faith and restore me where I may be failing!

I would encourage you to look at the Book of Lamentations. This remarkable book from the Old Testament relates Jeremiah’s time of trial and tribulation. Consider the scene. It is roughly 586 B.C. The city of Jerusalem has been left in ruins by the Babylonians. The Temple has been destroyed. The people have been ravaged by war and pestilence. Jeremiah, having lived through this personal and national catastrophe, utters words of immense lamentation. Judah has been described as a weeping widow not unlike the woman who came to me disheveled and seating upon the ground in mourning. Everything was gone. It can’t get much worse than this. With every detail of the destruction still fresh within his mind and heart, Jeremiah writes the following (LAMENTATIONS 3:15):

"He has filled me with bitterness. He has made me drunk with wormwood. And He has broken my teeth with gravel. He has made me cower in the dust. And my soul has been rejected from peace. I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished, and so has my hope in the Lord.”

Does this sound at all familiar? Perhaps, we have never expressed it in quite this style of language, but I am sure each one of us has come to a point in our lives when we cry out: My strength has perished, and so has my hope in the Lord. But wait. Look at what follows (LAMENTATIONS 3:19):

"Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my spirit remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindness indeed never ceases, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I have hope in Him.' "

What a testimony of transformation! What a testimony of two kingdoms the kingdom of flesh and the kingdom of Spirit within the individual, seeking to become one. Here was a man of immense faith who became so utterly crushed by circumstances of the flesh that even his faith in God began to diminish. My strength has perished, and so has my hope for the Lord.

That’s where it could have ended for Jeremiah. And that’s where it could end for us, when we confront challenging times. But, Jeremiah did something so profound, that even the subtle language of the Scripture shares its revelation with a resounding voice of hopeful truth.

What did Jeremiah do? What can we each do, when life seems to deal us just one too many bad hands? Jeremiah looked within, and he let his spirit speak. He looked within, and he allowed his spirit to address the tragedy of the flesh. Jeremiah said: My strength has perished, and so has my hope. But his spirit witnessed another call; another reality.

And that’s what we have to do: we have to search deeply within our souls. We have to look deeply into the tabernacle of the most high. Surely my spirit remembers and is bowed down within me. We must go within and remember our spiritual roots. Why? Because we forget. We must go within and remember those times when we knew that God was with us. Why? Because we forget. We must go within and remember when, like Christ, we and the Father were one. Why? Because we forget.

We must go within and touch the light of the spirit and remember the greater Light of God. Why? Because, like the woman above, many of us feel we “have been set adrift in a sea of darkness and despair”; and our plea is: “Help me find my way home again.”

The person of Jeremiah lamented: My strength has perished and so has my hope. But when he reached into the depths of his spirit, where the Holy Spirit of God resides, Jeremiah proclaimed: The Lord is my portion. Therefore, I have hope in Him.

The person of this woman cried out: “We have been set adrift in a sea of darkness and despair.” But, her spirit knew there was another place to be; another state of being. She wanted help to find her way HOME!

So, what do we do when the faith seems to fail us? We remember exactly wherein lie our spiritual roots. We remember that, as spirit, we are born of God. We remember that, as spirit, God is our portion. And we remember not to forget that, when the human part of us seems to fail, there is recourse. There is the spirit within upon which we can rely. There is the spirit within, created truly in the light and image of God, our beloved Father. And there is one, to whom we can turn, as an example of God’s Light and Love on earth, for guidance, strength, and direction to the Divine Light of God; and that one is Jesus Christ.

Jesus can be as the light house which guides our wandering vessels, through the raging waters of life, into the safety of God’s harbor. And what better time than now, as we commence upon yet another new year, to remind ourselves of the Light which he came to bear witness, in Heaven and on Earth.

Holiday Season 2017 has gone by, and a New Year is upon us. All the lights and decorations are being put away for yet another year. And we must ask ourselves a very important question: Are we putting away the Lights of Chanukah and Christmas along with the lights that recently festooned our homes?

Have we learned; have we shared; have we, too, been born; have we received the Light to which Christ bears witness; have we truly appreciated the significance of the Chanukah Miracle? There was no room for the Christ child in the inn! Shall we make room for him in our hearts; in our spirits; and in our lives? Shall we make room for him within our respective churches? Or shall he respective churches, or shall he be yet another decoration to place upon the Christmas tree of our life? Do we believe that the faith and courage of Jeremiah and the Maccabees live within us all, then and now?

It matters not what your faith or religious/spiritual persuasion may be; the Great Christ Spirit/Consciousness speaks to all people! Why cannot we see this? Regardless of what you may consider your Holy Writ, they all speak of Love, Light, Faith, Forgiveness, and, most importantly, of the Divine Spirit within all men and women; within all animals; within all plants; within the very ground upon which we walk. As is noted elsewhere on this website (www.fst.org/interfaith.htm), God does not reside exclusively in any Church, Temple, Synagogue, Mosque, or House of Worship. He resides within the hearts and spirits of every living creature.

“Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me!” That’s what we must do when our faith seems to fail us. We must remember. And the best way of remembering is not to forget to begin with. Thus, we have yet another reason for taking time, daily, in our busy lives, to acknowledge the Light of God through the lights of our prayers and our meditations. Thus, we have yet another reason to welcome in the Day of the Lord with the flames of prayer and praise. Thus, we have yet another reason for gathering together in community worship and prayer. We must never forget from whence we have all come.

“The Lord is my portion. Therefore, I have hope in Him!” What an Epiphany!

Thank you and Happy New Year.
Rev. Simeon




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