Reflections of Seneca

Seneca a Roman stoic philosopher, tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero has some keen insights into human nature that I believe would align with the teachings of Yeshua.  I cannot speak for the character and all saying of Seneca.   I am sharing some wisdom from a secular person that struck me.

All cruelty springs from weakness.

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.

The important thing about a problem is not its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution.

No one can lead a happy life, or even one that is bearable, without the pursuit of wisdom, and that the perfection of wisdom is what makes the happy life, although even the beginnings of wisdom make life bearable.  Yet this conviction, clear as it is, needs to be strengthened and given deeper roots through daily reflection; making noble resolutions is not as important as keeping the resolutions you have made already.

Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness.

It is the characteristic of a weak and diseased mind to fear the unfamiliar.

It is only luxury and avarice that make poverty grievous to us; for it is a very small matter that does our business, and when we have provided against cold, hunger, and thirst, all the rest is but vanity and excess. 

Eyes will not see when the heart wishes them to be blind. 

We become wiser by adversity; prosperity destroys our appreciation of the right.

 

Be not too hasty either with praise or blame; speak always as though you were giving evidence before the judgement-seat of the Gods. 

The primary sign of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company. 

He is most powerful who governs himself.

 

Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.

Shall I tell you what the real evil?  To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering.

We are members of one great body.  Nature planted in us a mutual love, and fitted us for a social life.  We must consider that we were born for the good of the whole.

We are mad, not only individually, but nationally.  We check manslaughter and isolated murders; but what of war and the much vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples?

Begin at once to live, and count each day as a separate life.

The mind is never right but when it is at peace within itself.

To err is human.  To repeat error is of the Devil.

These individuals have riches just as we say that we ‘have a fever,’ when really the fever has us. 

There is nothing the wise man does reluctantly.

There is no evil that does not promise inducements.  Avarice promises money; luxury, a varied assortment of pleasures; ambition, a purple robe and applause.  Vices tempt you by the rewards they offer.

The Fates guide those who go willingly.  Those who do not, they drag.

The willing, destiny guides them; the unwilling, destiny drags them. 

It’s all in your head, you have the power to make things seem hard or easy or even amusing.  The choice is yours. 

What difference does it make how much you have?  What you do not have amounts to much more.  

What need is there to weep over parts of life?  The whole of it calls for tears.

We should every night call ourselves to an account: What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed?  What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abate of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift. 

I will govern my life and thoughts as if the whole world were to see the one and read the other, for what does it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God, who is the searcher of our hearts, all our privacies are open?

The best cure for anger is delay.

Never to wrong others takes one a long way towards peace of mind. 

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.

He who asks with timidity invites a refusal.  

Do the best you can. . . enjoy the present. . . rest satisfied with what you have.  

True friends are the whole world to one another; and he that is a friend to himself is also a friend to mankind.  Even in my studies the greatest delight I take is of imparting it to others; for there is no relish to me in the possessing of anything without a partner.

Money does all things for reward.  Some are pious and honest as long as they thrive upon it, but if the devil himself gives better wages, they soon change their party.  

Study rather to fill your mind than your coffers; knowing that gold and silver were originally mingles with dirt, until avarice or ambition parted them.  

In every good man a God doth dwell.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

When I think over what I have said, I envy dumb people.

The bad fortune of the good turn their faces  up to heaven; the good fortune of the bad bows their heads down to the earth.

Night brings our troubles to the light, rather than banishes them.

Everywhere is nowhere.  When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.

He who is brave is free.

He who dreads hostility too much is unfit to rule.

Ignorant people see life as either existence or non-existence, but wise men see it beyond both existence and non-existence to something that transcends them both; this is an observation of  the Middle Way.

You want to live-but do you know how to live?  You are scared of dying-and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?

As the mother’s womb holds us for ten months, making us ready, not for the womb itself, but for life, just so, though our lives, we are making ourselves ready for another birth…Therefore look forward without fear to that appointed hour- the last hour of the body, but not of the soul…That day, which you fear as being the end of all things, is the birthday of your eternity.

 

 

 

God Is Always Working Behind The Scenes

Puerta Rican Rainforest

An invisible God works behind the scenes. He's like the wind. You cannot see Him, but you can feel and see the effects in your life.
An invisible God works behind the scenes. He’s like the wind. You cannot see Him, but you can feel and see the effects in your life.  He’s the potter and I’m the clay.

During these moments when nothing in my life goes right, how do I know God still works in my life?

I experience a lot of those moments, more than I care to admit.  I feel unsure if God sees and cares about me.  I cannot sense God’s presence!

​I realize now I could not feel God’s presence because I tend to focus on all the many problems in my life.  For instance,  I’m working so hard for a job I don’t like anymore.   I, however, don’t want to change jobs again.   Second,  I’m living paycheck to paycheck.  All my bills are overdue,  and it’s a job in itself just trying to stay above water mentally!  By the time my day ends,  I’m so mentally and physically drained I can’t sleep.  Also,  each work day just seems more painful to get through.  I don’t have any more mental space to process anything else.  By the time the weekend comes,  I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything.  I barely have the energy to do housework.  By the time Sunday evening comes around,  I’m crying inside.  I don’t know how I’m going to make it through another week!  I don’t even know if I will have  enough money to make it until payday once everything clears my account.  

 Until one day I came to the realization that I can’t feel God’s presence because I eliminated Him from my life.  The worst it got the less and less time I spent reading my Bible, praying, and giving my concerns to God.  I got so wrapped up in my troubles, my worries, my situation, I didn’t know how to let anyone in, even God!

God always works in the background, but it is up to us to put him front and center stage of our lives every day!  I wasn’t doing that.  It is still a work in progress.  I can catch myself faster and faster each time those dark moments come because I am aware!  Those moments still come and more intense than I would like.

On October 28, 2015 I made a same day appointment to see my doctor because I’ve been having chest pains off and on for two days now.  By the time I went,  my blood pressure was 209/147 and my EKG was abnormal.  I was transported to the ER where blood work and another EKG was done.  My blood work was fine, but my EKG came back abnormal.  I was sent home with a referral to see a cardiologist for a stress test.  

On November 5th I went for the stress test, but my blood pressure was high again and my EKG was still abnormal the cardiologist didn’t want me to do the stress test.  She ordered an angiogram to check the blood flow of my heart and working in the medical field I knew what that meant.  

I automatically start thinking the worst.  I have clogged artery. I’m going to have to have a stent or bypass surgery.

I go from thinking the worst to feeling guilty because these are preventable problems.  I know better.  I should have been eating healthier, exercising more, doing more!  By the time I got home I was an emotional wreck!

I didn’t know how I was going to tell my parents.  I had to get myself together before my son arrived home from school.  I decided the only way I’m going to do this is by giving my problems to God!

I’m not going to worry because I don’t even know the results yet.  I put on some uplifting music and started preparing dinner.  By the time I went to bed,  I felt grateful that God gave me the strength to deal with this today!  Tomorrow is Friday, and I have the weekend to breathe a little.  

On Friday November 6th, I find out that the pharmacy I’m presently working at was closing down and we are to report back to the main pharmacy on Monday.   So I tell myself at least I still have a job.  It’s nothing to stress about.  My son takes his SATs on Saturday November 7th and his 17th birthday is November 11th. ​

I am too blessed to be stressed!  On Sunday November 8th, my husband and I made dinner to celebrate and try to get the week started off on a positive note.  Monday is a little stressful being at the main pharmacy, but I made it.   On Tuesday November 10th, work was so busy I barely had a moment to eat, but it’s fine with me.  Tomorrow is my son’s birthday, and I have a few things to pick-up on my way home.  As soon as I clocked out and just about to walk out the door, my boss calls me in the office.  

He tells me they are cutting my hours to part time effective immediately, and I can only do four more hours this week.   My heart dropped to the floor.  I couldn’t believe they would wait for the last minute to tell me.  Why not tell me on Friday when we found out we were to report to the main pharmacy on Monday.  I told them that tomorrow is my son’s birthday.  The boss said, take tomorrow off and just do four hours on Thursday.  Then my boss goes on to say you can use this time to do so much such as: go to the gym, this could be a positive thing and just work on you.  The whole time he was talking to me I was thinking: this is my son’s senior year in high school, I have so much to pay for, tomorrow is his birthday, I have my car, rent, insurance, the holiday season is right around the corner, and I have no idea what is going on with my heart until November 19th!

On my way home my mind was all over the place!  I thank God for protecting me and everyone on the road with me because I was mentally not there!  I spoke with my husband and of course he had a million and one questions!  I just listened because I was not in the mood to argue.  After dinner I had a checklist of things I had to do in my head for my son’s birthday tomorrow.  I, however, made it through the night and my son had a wonderful 17th birthday.  

On Wednesday November 12th, I went into work trying to stay positive.  Part time is better than no time.  Well that didn’t last long.  I was called in the owner’s office to find out that they were letting me go.  I had to sign a separation agreement and was given $1,000 a month for six months.  I didn’t know what to say.  I just signed and left.  I didn’t know what to do.   I had never been through anything like this before.  I sat in my car around the corner and cried.  I asked God, “Why?”

I’ve tried not to worry and to stay positive.  The more I try not to worry, the more things kept happening.  I prayed and tried to settle down before driving home.  Now I have to tell my husband some more bad news, and it’s just not a good time!

My husband took the news as expected, but I was okay.  I had applied for a job months ago and my test date was next week.  I had prepared and even went on Lynda.com to brush up on some software I haven’t used in a while.  Tuesday November 17th came.  I’m prepared and left a little early to make sure I gave myself time to get there.  Something, however, kept telling me to look at that email one more time.  As I’m waiting for the car to warm up I read the email I printed out and the test date was Monday November 16th not Tuesday November 17th.  Before I could even process whatever emotion was about to come over me, my husband pulled up behind me.  I got out the car, and he immediately asked me “What’s wrong?”  I showed him the paper.  He saw the look on my face and said,  “Come on let’s go in the house.”  I couldn’t even feel anything.  My mind went straight to my angiogram on November 19th, and I couldn’t stress even about this!

Wednesday November 18th, the day before my angiogram was the scariest day I can remember!  Everyone was calling to show their support, but by midday I was terrified!  I couldn’t even tell my husband how afraid I was.  I thought the following:  “I believe in God!  So why am I afraid?”  I felt guilty for feeling afraid.  I didn’t go to sleep until after 3 am.  When my alarm went off at 6 am, I was already up and so afraid I was numb.  

My appointment was at 9 am.  After all the nurses, techs, doctors, and pokes, my heart was functioning fine.  I had no clogged arteries.  I was so happy!  All the other disappointments didn’t matter because God answered my prayers for the one thing that counted the most!  As long as I have good health,  I have another chance to get it right and to do what I was created to do!  

I’m still trying to process everything that happened the past three weeks.  I’m taking it in a little at a time because as grateful as I am it’s still too much all at once.  In retrospect,  I know god has been working in the background through it all.  I see His hand at work protecting me from things that never even made it to shore.  Whatever God wants me to learn from all this,  I want to make certain I get it!  I don’t want to have to go through these same painful lessons again!

Thus far I discovered that God works in my life during these difficult moments to teach me to trust and rely solely on Him.  God waited for me to take my problems to Him knowing He was my last resort.  He came through for me.  He wants me to trust Him to be my first choice with both the joys and troubles of life.

Why is it important to draw close to God in the good times and the bad? How can your testimony make a difference in the lives of others?  Why share your testimony?  How can others benefit from hearing your testimony and how God works in your life?  

I pray and hope my testimony gives you the courage to trust God in all things whether you feel His presence or not–know that God loves you!

Shane Harper–Hold You Up

Chris Tomlin–Good Good Father