Forgiveness and a metaphor from Italian medical history
Pacinian Corpuscle is a major tactile sensory mechanism in mammalian skin, discovered by Italian anatomist Filippo Pacini. It detects pressure changes and vibrations in the skin. When the external pressure such as touch is applied to the skin, it senses the vibration by deforming layers of lines until the nerve ending in the center processes the touch. The Pacinian corpuscle can be described as oval-cylindrical-shaped, 1 mm in length and consists of 20 to 60 concentric lamellae (like onion rings) connected by nerve endings at the center.
This microscopic image depicts the inner struggles we as humans experience via external stimuli, especially when it is negative. Natural reaction when the core of the structure is sensed as unfavorable is to recoil, retreat, shrink, flee, and finally fight if necessary.
Act of forgiveness, whether it is given or received, requires unnatural process of action. The power of the unnatural process of forgiveness is perhaps not possible by natural selection of human ability. God needs to intervene, so that humans can live peacefully with others and our own selves.
I came across reading God’s words in Psalm 119 in my morning quiet time and learned that this Psalm is the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. It has carefully constructed 22 sections each corresponding to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse beginning with the letter of its section. And the thought came to me that I should write 26 English alphabets with each verse that either begins or signifies God’s words that touch my heart.
A: (Revelation 1:8)
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
B: (Matthew 5: 3-11)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
C: (Matthew 11: 28-30)
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
D: (Psalm 37:4)
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
E: (John 10:28-30)
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
F: (Proverbs 3:5)
Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand.
G: (Psalm 145:3)
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
H: (Revelation 4:8, 11)
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
I: (Exodus 3:14)
I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.
J: (Jeremiah 15:16)
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.
K: (Proverb 16:24)
Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
L: (Psalm 119:105)
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
M: (Psalm 121:1-3)
I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
N: (Isaiah 42:8)
I am YAHWEH. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another. I will not let statues take the praise that should be mine.
O: (John 16:33)
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
P: (Psalm 102:1)
Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.
Q: (Zephaniah 3:17)
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
R: (Hebrew 1:3)
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
S: (Psalm 46:10)
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
T: (Isaiah 25:8)
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.
U: (Job 36:26)
How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
V: (1 Corinthian 15:57)
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
W: (Revelation 5:12)
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.
X: (Proverbs 21:1)
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. This is referring to King Xerxes, the king of Persia in the time of Esther. (I had a difficult time to find a Bible verse, starting or related to the letter X).
Y: (Job 23:10)
Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
Z: (Roman 9:33)
Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.
Reading the Hosea chapters of the Bible, I hear God’s voice using the prophet Hosea to warn the people of Israel the calamity they are about to face because they no longer seek God, obey His commandments or acknowledge His presence. The people of Israel have rejected what is good, appointed kings without God’s consent and princes without His knowledge. Not only that, they worshipped the manmade calf—the idol, and used the Temple of God to make sacrifices and burn offerings for other gods, prostituting with priests, both men and women and sold themselves to many lovers. They lost a sense God’s holiness, moral obligations to help less fortunate people, and used the very altars for places of sinning. The people of Israel had forgotten their own history; how they were brought to the land of milk and honey from bondage of slavery in Egypt within 800 years (1500 BC to 8th century BC). However, God still calls the people of Israel to plead with God to help them, to repent and seek His name to prevent His impending punishment of exile and dispersion of Israel people to Egypt and Assyria.
American history as I learned originated from the religious pursuit of Christianity where the territory that would become the Thirteen Colonies in 1776. Largely populated by Protestant settlers seeking religious freedom from the Church of England (est. 1534), these settlers were primarily Puritans from East Anglia, especially just before the English Civil War (1641–1651). In the year of 2020, merely 244 years later, I hardly hear the significance of Christianity in this country. Seeking God’s name is no longer heard. Quite the contrary, even the current textbooks and education systems have removed most religious connotations and the name of God. In the name of contemporary political correctness, and tolerance, the name of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are uniquely removed from the contents of our conversations except in the church settings.
God took away over 350,000 people from the U.S. and 1.85 million globally by Coronavirus in year 2020 and the number is expected to grow even further in 2021. Natural question is then, are we facing the similar fate as the northern kingdom of Israel because our country has forgotten the original love of seeking God? Is God punishing us? Can we ask God to stop this disaster at once? Didn’t God save Lot and his family when Abraham asked God, “What if there are a few righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah?
Can a few Christians pray for this country so God can save us?
The fact in life is we have to pay the taxes and the virus will mutate. It has been documented that the recent mutation B117 strain is more infectious that the original virus from China which started COVID-19. Currently, researchers have catalogued more than 12,000 mutations in SARS-CoV-2 genomes. As seen in the last pandemic in 1917-18, the herd immunity, we are hoping that the new vaccine against the coronavirus will win over so we pass through this calamity. But I think in 1918, it was not just the herd immunity but also the mutation of the influenza virus (H1N1) that lost virulence after killing 100 million people within two years.
I heard a funny sermon. A small town in the Midwest had a new liquor store opening next to an old church. More people began buying liquor and not attending church on Sundays. The preacher in that church began to ask the congregation to pray that the liquor store get destroyed from lightning and fire. The people began to pray to God. One day, the liquor store owner came to the church and pleaded with the preacher not to pray such a prayer. The preacher was fascinated by the liquor store owner. Why did he think the store would be burned in fire by lightening? It was the liquor store owner, not the preacher who actually believed that God could do anything.
I hear no churches praying to stop the virus from spreading and killing people. It will take just one deadly mutation on the virus to stop replicating. God can do that very easily and much more effectively and faster than the heard immunity by vaccine. We should pray to God to kill coronavirus by its own mistake in mutation. Pray with boldness and confidence that God hears our prayers. Just like the virus, transfer this request of prayer to one of your friends, a prayer to eradicate the virus by God’s mighty power.
Let us have unified voice in prayer to kill coronavirus in the year of 2021.
November 20, 2020 In the Book of Amos, Chapter 4: 1-13, God speaks through his prophet Amos that He sent several hardships and tragedies to wake up the people of Israel. God is humorous calling the privileged women of Israel, “Listen to me, You Fat Cows living in Samaria.” God was referring to the women who are pampered, sleek and well fed who selfishly oppress the helpless in order to support their lavish lifestyles. The Lord God sent famine, lack of rain, striking farms and vineyards with blight and mildew, locusts devouring figs and olive trees, plagues, killing young men in war, the stench of death filling the air and still the people of Israel did not return their hearts to God who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds and reveals His thoughts to mankind. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads on the height of the earth. The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies is His name!
Almost two days, we had a dense fog in the mornings in Southern California. I couldn’t see just 6 feet away. Just a month ago, we had severe fires close to our mountains with eerie orange sky with soot on the very street I cannot see due to fog.
As the Thanksgiving Holidays approaches, I am thinking and looking back what a tumultuous year this 2020 has been, thus far. God allowed the world to experience the pandemic with a novel coronavirus with the death count of 1.34 million as of today and 55.6 million infections. The US leads the way with the death count of 252K and 11.8 million infections. It is still unbelievable that US is the top country to be affected by this unfortunate COVID-19. We are used to leading the technology, medicine, economy, wealth and respect for human rights and democracy but not in the viral infection rate, and I am embarrassed about this.
This year, we had seen the invisible and formidable virus affecting nondiscriminatory way; now we see our immediate families, friends and coworkers getting infected by the virus. We had more fires than any other years in southwestern states. We had more hurricanes in eastern states than any other times and we even ran out of naming the hurricanes and used the final alphabet letter Z, zeta 2020. We had the world’s largest hornet called Asian Giant Hornet, better known as murder hornets in Washington state alarming to infest the country. This is reminding me of the Amos time when God sent sequential calamities.
These incidences are on top of the usual natural calamities such as tornadoes and floods, not to mention our man-made tragedies of racial discrimination outbreaks and violent demonstrations and looting. And to top it off, the election year for presidency manifested how our country is divided and the first time ever in 244-years-old history where our very definition of democracy is questioned by the current president not conceding since the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the US Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
Is God saying anything to us? Is He saying return to me as He said through Amos for the people of Israel? Are we still ignoring God because we did not get the message? Is God allowing all these calamities for us to turn our heads toward Him? It is impossible to know what is in God’s mind.
With Thanksgiving holidays coming around the corner, I can reflect and even the very question what is the meaning of all these? What a year 2020 has been thus far! Still, I have this life, the miracles of time that I breath in this very life is not my own to waste. Each day is precious. Tomorrow is not promised nor guaranteed. And I am thankful for just the fact I can breathe.
Who can possibly fathom what’s on God’s mind. I do not know the meaning of all the happenings in 2020. What I do know is I have life today and I will choose to listen to what God has to say to me today with thanksgiving heart.