Pastor Samuel Rodriguez: From Survive to Thrive
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A World Altering Pandemic and the Response
In his latest book, Pastor Sam says that how we deal with suffering, whether it’s a minor challenge of daily life or the throes of a pandemic, the choice is ours to make. And those choices determine everything else. He says that if we adopt “God’s eye view” we can survive, and even thrive in the midst of the pandemic. We can grow stronger, live with purpose and confidence, recover from grief and loss, and rediscover hope. The consequences of the other choice are stark. If we let anxiety and fear overcome us, if anger and rage seethe inside of us, or if we plunge into despair and hopelessness, we may survive, but barely.
God's Prescription for Pain and Suffering
Pastor Sam describes God’s prescription for pain and suffering with the use of seven words; words that need to define our focus, and purpose, and every thought we have or action we take. If we make our goal to HONOR and HUNGER for God alone, to desire to live HOLY with integrity, to determine to be HAPPY and HEALTHY (by God’s definition), to seek to be completely HEALED, and to live in true HUMILITY, we will not only survive, we will overcome every obstacle we face, and thrive.
In his own life, Pastor Sam says he faced tremendous obstacles to achieve his God-given destiny. And the great heroes of the Bible, like Abraham, David, and Joseph pointed the way.
As a young student, a guidance counselor told him he would never achieve his “lofty” dreams because of his race and cultural background. His dreams were scorned and ridiculed by well-meaning friends, and, even strangers. But with God’s “eye view” and great faith, today, he is speaking before Congress, and has advised three Presidents!
He says we can face the overwhelming challenges of the pandemic with the same God mindset. If we view being confined and quarantined with “God’s eye view," it can become an opportunity. For example, many people have more time. If we stop running and doing and just be, God can recharge, heal and restore us. If we will use the time to strengthen our relationship with God through prayer and Bible reading, and to deepen our relationships with family members, we can emerge from our confinement stronger and healthier. But he cautions not to waste the time binge watching Netflix or scrolling endlessly on Facebook (although Pastor Sam readily admits he often relaxes with several episodes of “Star Trek”). Just remember to use the time wisely.
What About Acute Pain and Overwhelming Grief?
During the pandemic, Pastor Sam knows that people have suffered great losses, and the pain is acute. They need more than the right attitude and goals. They need healing and restoration. The only condition to receiving this healing is to ask God for it, and not give-up.
If your loss was a job or possessions, or food and shelter, humbly allow others to feed and encourage you. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, receive God’s comfort and love. Then, receive other people He may send (who personally understand your grief) and allow them to provide companionship and impart hope.
Bottom Line, Every Challenge is an Opportunity
The bottom line for Pastor Sam: In every challenge, whether it’s the pain of a world altering pandemic or the smaller struggles of daily life, there is an opportunity for God to reveal His power in and through us. There is the opportunity for personal healing and restoration. And, there is the gift of passing our hope along to others. Look for hurting people and serve them humbly. Show them the powerful and loving God who healed you, wants to redeem, heal, and restore them too.
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