Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering “stinks,” and it’s hard to understand why these things happen. Sadly, in our world we will see or go through pain, suffering, and hardships. I think this is why we have the Book of Job– we can see from Job’s example that no matter what happens in our life that we are to continue to praise God. Yes, it is hard to praise God when things feel like they are falling apart but when there is nothing or no one else, God is still there, and there is also the body of Christ.

The Bible tells us to “…pray for each other...” (James 5:16, NIV), and to “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Gal 6:2, NIV). As Christians, we are all the body of Christ, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Cor 12:26, NIV).

I think there are some people who are afraid that they will not know what to say to someone who is suffering, or maybe they are uncomfortable seeing someone’s pain and hardship. I have found that most of the time, people who are suffering just need a hug– no words, just a hug.

If you are experiencing hardships, pain, and/or suffering, then I hope that you have found someone to walk with you in your suffering; and if you have suffered in the past, then I hope that you will walk with someone who is in pain (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Talk to God

I have encountered some people who feel that a Christian ought to project a “perfect” life. I’m not sure how they came to that conclusion, but because they felt this way they didn’t appear “real” to others. Sometimes people are afraid to admit their faults because others might ridicule or shame them. If we are not honest with one another, then how can we help each other? I think about these two Scripture verses: James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other…” (NIV), and Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (NIV). We should be honest with one another, but most especially we must be honest with God– even though He already knows what we are thinking and feeling, there is something in speaking about our feelings/thoughts with Him that helps to change our perspective.

We often set boundaries, being careful in knowing when, and with whom, to divulge. Sometimes we can’t divulge everything, even when we trust the person we usually confide in; but we have God. I think about Matthew 6:6, “… when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen…” (NIV). The Scripture verse is about people who pray in public just to appear righteous, but I think the fact that we should go into a room and pray to God on our own shows that He is the only One we can truly express our most inner thoughts and feelings. Sometimes people are so distraught that they can’t even verbally express what they feel, but God understands us, “…We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (NIV).

So, the take-away is, we need to be “real” with others—none of us are perfect, which means we all make mistakes. We should share our faults and heartache with one another, but sometimes we can’t so we must turn to God. Even though you might not know what or how to pray, go someplace to be alone and just talk to God.

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Three Biggest Things I’ve Learned from Being Married for 33 Years

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. We’ve come so far considering we could have been a “statistic” based on the factors we had: only teenagers when we married, we only had a high school education, we had our first child within the first year of our marriage, my parents were divorced, we only knew each other for a few months before getting married, we had a long distance relationship (me in California, and he in Florida), and we had terrible conflict and communication skills.

We had our “ups” and “downs” over the years, and I was even on the verge of getting a divorce earlier in our marriage. Yes, we saw a counselor and took marriage enrichment classes/seminars, but the turning point of our marriage was when we turned everything over to God. I’ve learned so much these past 33 years, and these are the three biggest things that I learned:

  1. I learned that I had to stop trying to be “right,” and to realize that no one is perfect so I had to be more forgiving.

It seemed that I was in a competition with my husband all the time. I wanted to always prove that I was right to a point where I would get angry about it. I spent more time arguing my case that I never really listened. When my husband did something wrong, I would use it against him and bring it up when we had arguments.

No one is perfect (especially me). If I don’t want people to expect perfection from me, then I shouldn’t expect it from other people, most especially my husband. Since I make mistakes all the time, I know that my husband will make mistakes too so I have to forgive him, just as I would want him to forgive me. I’m not always right; I had to listen more and talk less, and I had to realize that just because he did things differently that it doesn’t mean that my way is “right.”

  1. I learned to “pick my battles,” to let the “little things” go, and to choose my words carefully when there is a real issue.

I remember arguing about how the toilet paper should be placed on the holder, and how that argument would expand into other issues from the past. Does it really matter how the toilet paper is put into the holder? No! I realized that there are more serious issues. When these issues arise then that’s when I have to say something, but I had to choose my words (and tone of voice) carefully so that my words can be received.

  1. I learned to truly love my husband, to appreciate him, and to build him up as often as I can.

It used to make me so jealous that my husband had a photographic memory. He breezed through the doctoral program and graduated with a large dissertation after four years, while I struggled and nearly dropped out. The two years that followed his graduation were extremely difficult for me, but he encouraged me when I felt like giving up, he proof read my work several times, and he picked up the slack at home. I graduated after six years of being in the program, and I could not have done it without him.

I’ve come to appreciate how much smarter he is compared to me; and even though he is smarter, he never rubs it in my face. He brings out the best in me, so I try to bring out the best in him. I encourage him by pointing out the positive things about him, or about the positive things he has done or is doing. I am there if he is having a bad day and he needs someone to listen to him. When he gets a migraine, I massage his head until it goes away. I also tell him that I love him every day (they say action speaks louder than words, but words are still important).

Thirty-three years seems like such a long time, but I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think we ever get to that point in our marriage where we can stop trying to love, to support, and to serve our spouse.

Most of all, I continually thank God for His intervention in my marriage, and thank Him for the wonderful man He has given to me to be my husband.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger… No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need… serve one another through love… And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (James 1:17, 19, Eph 4:28, Gal 5:16, Eph 4:32, CSB).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The Time Is Now

None of us can ever “get right” with God on our own. Sometimes people will hear the gospel and say, “I’m not ready to accept Jesus right now because I need to clean myself up first,” but that day never comes.

It reminds me of what Jesus said to the Pharisees: “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matt 23:26, NIV). The Pharisees were busy trying to look or act a certain way, but their hearts had not been changed by God– “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35, NLT).

God wants a willing spirit– we come to Him and ask Him to change us– that’s how we become “right” with Him. The time is now. “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Preachers

Maybe I’m wrong, but preachers ought to preach the Word. I think sermons ought to pierce our hearts so that we make changes in our lives. It’s easy for us to slowly veer away from what we should do, and we need to be reminded of God’s standard so that we can realign ourselves. Preachers are meant to impact others, and when they squander a Sunday morning worship service then they are not doing what God has placed them there to do. In James 3:1 it says, “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment” (CSB).

I realize that it is summer and people want a break, but why hijack the whole worship service for a children’s program or a concert? A music concert, no matter how good it is, can never replace the preaching of the Word. Music is like an appetizer, meant to prepare the heart for the Word; and if the Word is not preached then the main meal was not served. A quick gospel presentation at the end of a concert or a children’s program is not enough—that’s just a bite-size sample of the main meal.

I want to hear the Truth on Sunday morning—I want to feel conviction and love from the Father, and when I don’t hear the Word then I don’t hear from the Father. I know I can do my own devotionals at home, but then why go to worship on Sundays? Could it be that when a preacher preaches the Word that God is responding to me from the week I was at home praying and studying? Is it possible that when I feel confused that He will tell me what to do through the sermon? Do you see why it’s important to preach the Word? People want to hear from God, and preachers are God’s mouthpiece.

Please take your role as a preacher seriously— you have an obligation to make Christ known to us, and you are supposed to guide us in living a life that is honoring of God. Isn’t that what 2 Timothy 4:2 is about— “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching” (CSB)? It doesn’t matter if it is summer and half the congregation has gone on vacation or they are away on mission trips, or if you have only a handful of people in your church, you preach the Word!

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

God is good, even when things are not good

This morning I woke up thinking about my childhood and feeling sad and angry.  In the past, I had wondered why God would allow evil things to happen, and now I can remind myself that this world is corrupt and people are sinful so that’s why bad things happen. Even though I know this, I still wonder why people would do horrible things to children.

My past isn’t very unique. Unfortunately, there are many people who have encountered similar things. I was fortunate to have forgotten most of it. I remember hearing one of my teachers, Dr. Bill Cutrer, say that if we can’t remember a traumatic experience, like our minds just blocked the memory of it, then we should consider it a blessing. I never thought about it like that. I kept thinking that I had to deal with memories, even those that were deeply buried in my mind, in order to be “healthy.”

I have to admit that even though I don’t remember everything, I remember enough. My memories are like puzzle pieces— even though I don’t have all the pieces, I can still see most of the picture and fill in the blanks. The picture is very ugly and disturbing.

Why didn’t anyone protect me? Didn’t anyone care?

I suffered for several years. There were times that I wished that someone would have called child services and place me in a foster home but no one ever did. Instead, I endured it. This is what makes me sad— that no one cared enough to help me, and that those who I was supposed to trust were the ones that were abusing me.

This week, I saw two news stories about children being raped— one was killed and the other was basically left for dead. This is what angers me. I want to vindicate these children—I want to physically punish the people who did this to them, but I can’t.  All I can do is pray to God that the child that is still alive will recover completely, and that justice will prevail.

I am a grandmother now. When I was a mother I was able to protect my children, but as a grandmother, my powers of protection are very limited. All I can do is pray for my grandchildren.

So what was the point of bringing this up? Just that sometimes we remember our past and we cry about it, we see things in the news and we get angry about it, and many times we have no control over circumstances, but we have to give it all to God. We have to believe that He will take the bad stuff and have something good come from it.

I didn’t have a great family growing up, but I have one now. God gave me a loving and supportive husband, and together we have our own family. I wasn’t a perfect mother, but I loved my children, and I cared and protected them.  If any good could come from a terrible past, it is that I learned how to be a real parent, and I hope that the faith I have in God has been instilled into my children. God is good, even when things around us are not good, and only God can make something good come from something bad: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…” (Gen 50:20, NLT).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

What Are Dreams?

I remember when my children were babies and I would watch them sleep. Sometimes their eyes would twitch then they might let out a quick cry, like they were frightened; and other times I would see them smile. I often wondered what babies dreamed— they hadn’t been in the world for too long so why would they frown, whimper, or smile when they slept? Could they be dreaming about future events? Could that be why we sometimes have that feeling of “déjà vu”?

Is it possible to see a glimpse of the future through dreams? I’m not sure. Many years ago I had a dream where I saw myself walking on a hill surrounded by children in tattered clothing. They were smiling and welcoming me— some were reaching up to hold my hand. I appeared to be 70 or more years old— my hair was all white and in a bun. The dream was brief; it ended when I saw what I looked like.

I have had dreams that made me wonder why I dreamed such a dream. I’ve had a couple of dreams like that—  once, where an imp tried to convince me that the Bible wasn’t true but I told him that Jesus would come back as He said He would, then another time when I saw the sun split in half and everyone was terrified because we were all “doomed” and God saved us.  I came to realize that dreams like that assure me that I have a real faith in God.

There are yet other dreams where I actually talked to people I have never seen before, and I wondered if that person was having the same dream about talking to me— I guess a lot of people have experienced this because I’ve seen movies and TV shows about that.

Then there are dreams when I feel like I’m watching a movie, where I’m not even in the dream— I think that’s when my mind just wants to rest and not solve an issue in my life.

So what’s the point of writing this? I guess it’s to say that sometimes dreams can be important (like when you are struggling with something and you want to figure out what to do), and sometimes dreams can help solidify your personal beliefs. The only one who can sort that out is you, so stop turning to books or articles that tell you what your dream means because dreams are personal and can’t be generalized. If you really need help understanding your dreams then ask the One who is the maker of dreams— God.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti