RICHARD G. MENDOZA, MPH, PHD
Pr. Richard Mendoza works at the Central Luzon Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. An educator and promoter of health, he complements his advocacies with spiritual and values-oriented insights.
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(First of 2 parts)
As we face the New Year 2018, uncertainty lies ahead, the past must have been difficult but we have to move on and regardless of our circumstances, life is still worth living. It is beautiful especially when you live with hope. “ We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. So don’t stay angry for too long. Learn to forgive and love with all of your heart. Don’t worry about the people who don’t like you. Enjoy the ones who love you.” (FB:Happy Life Post)
The Apostle Paul talks about living our life as if we are running on a race, He says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:24,25 NIV.)
He speaks as a converted Christian and emphasizes the spiritual aspect and mission of a believer, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:23,24 NIV)
Paul’s life is one full of ups and down, the sinners who were forgiven and those of us “na may pinagdadaanan or may pinagdaanan” (who have or have had difficulties in life) can relate to him. Prior to his conversion, Paul, then called Saul was a religious fanatic. As a teacher of the Law, he was long on concepts and theories but was short on relationship with God and helping the needy. His zeal as a Jewish leader, made him a persecutor and while he was on his way to kill Christians in Damascus, he encountered an overpowering light, which threw him to the ground and left him blind for several days.
The Eternal Other called him twice by name and asked, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Saul responded, “Who are You, Lord? Lord, what do You want me to do?” Saul had thought he had life together as he followed his religious zeal for killing those who disagreed with his worldview, but when he saw Jesus, everything changed. He was blind three days during which he groped not only for physical light but for spiritual light of what was the true meaning and purpose of life and asked God to mend his brokenness.
Were you hurt, betrayed and persecuted? Have you wondered why things are not going the way you wanted them to be? Were there times when you wanted to ask, why me Lord? Have you ever cried out from the depths of your soul, “God, who are You? What is the meaning of my existence? How are You going to heal me from all my brokenness?”
Paul’s life was never the same again after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. The life that he has chosen was one with hardships yet full of hope, he expressed how he overcomes, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed–always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus ‘sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh”(II Corinthians 4:7-11)
Finally he declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim.4:7,8ESV)
The roads can’t be all smooth and the bed won’t be full of roses but you can be happy journeying and sleeping. There is a Tagalog proverb that says, “Habang maikli ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot” (When the blanket is short, learn to curl up under it). This is my version, “Habang maliit pa ang kumot mag-enjoy kang mamaluktot” (While the blanket is small enjoy using it).
Entrust your life to God and with Jesus around, happiness abounds. We wish you a Prosperous New Year!