Trail Of Tears

           In the early part of the 19th century, in one of the darkest acts of our nation's history, President Andrew Jackson ordered the forcible removal of the Cherokee Indian tribe from their homes in Georgia, to the new Oklahoma territory in the west.  It was a trip filled with hardships for this people, with many of them dying along the way.  History refers to it as The Trail Of Tears.  Yet, despite the great wrong inflicted upon them, and all the suffering of the journey, the people in fact flourished in their new home, establishing prosperous farms and an effective self-government.  Though the acts against them can in no way be justified, these acts and the suffering that accompanied them could not deter them from coming to a place of being victorious in the midst of it all.  Indeed, it may well be that their suffering equipped them for that very victory.  In this truth lies for us, spiritual truth.

    Each of us, somewhere in our life, has our own "trail of tears."  Some journey of suffering and heartbreak.  Some place where we felt something died, indeed, had died.  The loss of a loved one, a marriage, a cherished job or ministry.  A trail that uprooted us from all we knew and loved, tearing away everything in which we had found our security and wellbeing.  A trail of suffering and tears.  Our trail may be unlike another's, as is our suffering, but for us, it was indeed a trail of pain and loss.  That trail may not have ended and indeed, we may be on it even now.  The question for each of us is where, and to who is that trail leading us?  As we travel, towards what are we traveling?
    There are so many who never leave either emotionally or spiritually, their own trail of tears.  That trail holds them captive.  We live in a fallen world, where the effects of sin will touch each of us.  The Father never promised that this would not be so, but in Christ, He has promised that He will enter into our "trail" and our suffering and by His presence, if we will have it, cause us to "rise up" over and above it.  John, exiled on the isle of Patmos, a rocky desolate island of despair, heard the voice of the Father calling him to look up, and scripture tells us that in doing so, 'he saw a door opened into heaven," into the very presence of God.  Writing on this line, Oswald Chambers said, "Most of us fall and collapse at the first grip of pain; we sit down at the threshold of God's purpose and die away of self-pity.....But God.....comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son and says -
'Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.'  If through a broken heart God can bring to pass His purposes for the world, than thank Him for breaking your heart."  We will either stumble, and resent these words, or embrace them.  Which is our response?
    As I contemplated this today, I thought of my own trail of tears.  It may well have brought no tears to the eyes and heart of another, but it did to me.  I would not choose that trail of myself, yet I have come to be thankful, deeply so, for it.  I don't believe He chose that trail for me, but He allowed it, and in it, has brought me into a knowledge and intimacy with Him that I know I would never have come to any other way, and for that, I am thankful.  The old hymn sings, It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.  I, we, will see Him, but we don't have to wait for some future time, but may see Him now, even on that trail of tears.  Like the Cherokee flourished in Oklahoma, so may we flourish in Him.  On our trail of tears, He calls us to "look up" and see that open door to Him.  And even in the tears, we can, and will, experience the fullness of His joy.

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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