Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. 1 Timothy 6:11
It is a new year, so it is always good to have a new beginning, a new hope for the struggles I have so that I may overcome them with the strength Christ offers me. The good fight in keeping the faith gets challenged every day.
I am still trying to figure out which side of the concrete “Wall” is the wrong side, since most of the time I am feeling locked up behind an official 26-foot high “Separation Barrier” on Palestinian land, but when I am in my husband’s village of Taybeh, I end up speaking to God more. Thus, I have always felt living in the Holy Land under military occupation with no basic human freedoms is surely the wrong side of the wall. Having escaped to America for a couple of months, I noticed I am talking to God less since there is so much here to keep me busy, from shopping, sports, and entertainment. It is really a struggle to squeeze God in on Sundays. I am sadly coming to the conclusion that living under oppression might be better for my soul because prayer was the answer to everything out of my control.
I have been feeling that there is no perfect place on earth, especially because some people in free countries sometimes abuse their freedoms and commit acts of violence in schools and shopping malls. I make every effort to always keep my focus on God’s Heavenly Kingdom, no matter what news I hear. Surely military occupation is not a good thing and for sure until the day I die, I will be promoting a free Palestine. However, I am feeling a different type of occupation in the USA. My challenges on the other side of the wall are so evident and physically easy to spot with guns and military uniforms, but I think the evils that exist in free society are subtle. They are unnoticed occupations.
Have you ever been bothered by materialism, or is just my imagination that the majority of Americans want too much? I am always overwhelmed by all the luxuries and wonderful things America provides because materialistic things are so easily accessible. It seems one credit card is the answer to everything. And, I guess it is ok if you spend the rest of your life paying for it.
My family gatherings have completely been transformed because before or after dinner, every single family member sits around without any eye contact but with their iPhone, iPad, or some computer device. Maybe this is not a technological occupation, but I feel strange that my children prefer to send me emails while I am sitting in the same room. There is a type of pre-occupation that I noticed many friends have because there is so much media pressure from the TV ads, the magazine ads, the radio ads to have, to buy, to spend, to go. How is it possible that your neighbor will go to Aruba; so you need to be thinking of going to Bermuda or something? This social competition is nerve-wracking. Maybe I am wrong, but all of the materialism, consumerism, and the luxury made me so dizzy I continue to see the world only as the ones that have and the ones that have not. The Gospel constantly challenges our lifestyle. I am always wondering what God wants me to have.
I am very ashamed of myself because I don’t always see Christ in the other, especially when the other is a beggar in the middle of New York City. I use the excuse that I am too freezing cold to open my purse and give an offering or I am too scared someone will rob me if I stop to pay attention to the one in need. So this world is getting very complicated for me because I see the person who pays $75 to have tea at the Plaza but who is un-willing to give a dollar to have a crown in God’s Heavenly Kingdom. We really need to reevaluate our treasures. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).
In this new year, can we re-new our hope of finding our space where God can be first in our life? Can we get to a comfortable point of focusing on Christ since the end goal is truly to be in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, no matter what color purse or brand name boots we buy? Let us open a new page of seeing Christ in the other, no matter how difficult it may seem. Let us try as hard as possible to make every effort to understand God’s will in our life. Are we able to make our decisions according to God’s understanding of what is holy? In this way we help our soul be occupied with the focus on eternal life. It can only lead one little step closer to God’s Heavenly Kingdom.
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)