In an increasingly tumultuous world, knowing God is by your side can make an enormous difference, bringing strength, comfort, and peace. In Searching for God, the Precious Treasure, in My Daily Life, Rev. Peter G. Vu helps you see God’s presence in everyday events and find the encouragement necessary to thrive in times of challenge. Through prayer, acts of charity, and interactions with others, you will see that God is before you, behind you, and all around you, a benevolent guiding force to help you walk the path of the righteous.
My name is Rev. Peter G. Vu, a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for twenty years. I was born in Saigon City (currently Ho Chi Minh City), Viet Nam. I was a young boy when the Viet Nam War ended. I witnessed the war and the end of it with great horror and deep appreciation for peace. I had to grow up with the communist government system and endure lots of hardship with them for over a decade. What helped me and many of my countrymen tremendously during those dark days were our faith and prayers. Hence, my love for prayers and meditations was able to blossom. Also, I was able to learn and exchange new ideas of prayers and meditations with many of my Buddhist friends. We got along quite well in spite of our different faith traditions.
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Why We Need God Every Moment of Our Life; Seven Signs to Show that We Truly Have Met God: Love, Mercy, Peace, Joy, Hope, Generosity, and Faithfulness
For us, the faithful, the question above should not come as a surprise, and we can cite all sorts of reasons to have God in our lives. Nonbelievers might debate back and forth on why they might need God in their lives. But we, the faithful, know beyond a shadow of a doubt the importance of God in our world. We believe God created the universe and continues to sustain it. Without God's continuous support, it would not be able to stand on its own. Everything would turn chaotic, and the whole world would fall apart. Nations would start wars with their neighbors, while natural disasters would happen all over the globe. The rich and the powerful would exploit the poor and the weak if God was not around to impose order and consequences for our actions. We might say God was the town sheriff that a town like our world would desperately need to maintain its peace and order.
Many of the faithful in the biblical times believed that God would punish bad people and reward the good ones in this time and the next. There are many examples in the Bible to support this belief, and we will examine this further in the later chapters. As someone who gives out rewards and punishments, God plays an important role of enforcing justice and holding all creatures accountable for their actions. Without God's presence, our world would turn chaotic and become lawless.
But we need God to do more than just maintain law and order. We need God to give us a sense of self-worth as we keep on living our life to the fullest with the blessing of a new day. We live in a world that is more interested in material things than spiritual matters. Therefore, it often neglects to nurture the spiritual life of the people and causes them to suffer all sorts of mental and psychological problems. The most serious problem is the mental illness that could cause a person to become suicidal and commit violent acts toward people around him or her. If there is a pandemic that has caused thousands of untimely deaths and tremendous pain, it would be the increasing number of suicides. Each year, there are about 45,000 recorded suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). On average, the annual US suicide rate increased 24 percent between 1999 and 2016. There are 123 suicides per day, and suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
This trend clearly raises lots of concerns for our country and the whole of humanity. Unfortunately, there is no medication or modern treatment to prevent and cure this horrible phenomenon. The best way to tamp it down and reduce the number of suicides is to ask for divine help and surround our world with a divine presence. So far, most of the earthly solutions have not solved our suicide epidemic. For this problem is in fact closely related to spiritual health. We need to call on God to heal and nourish our spirit.
When a person takes his or her life, he or she hits a dead end and wants to give up on living. His or her spirit is troubled, and it causes a person to have a dismal outlook on life. He or she feels overwhelmed and does not know where to turn for help. Jesus knew how these troubled souls felt and often reached out to comfort and heal them during his ministry. He referred to them as "possessed" or "taken over by evil spirits." They were tortured spiritually and miserable in their daily life. Some of them could not live in a human community and found themselves being isolated and having to live among the tombs and the dead.
We learn in the Gospels that they could not find any help from anyone on Earth, except a divine figure like Jesus, who apparently could bring them out of their current state of mind and give them new spirit. He certainly brought them back from the dead and blessed them with a new life. That is the greatest blessing and wonderful miracle that God could bring to a troubled soul and possibly the suicide epidemic that our world is suffering now. That is why many people, especially the afflicted, have sought out Jesus for healing or done everything possible to stay close to the Lord. If we follow their example and search for God, the precious treasure, in our daily life, imagine all the blessings and miracles we might experience.
A lesser form of hopelessness that our world is suffering from a lot these days is depression. Thousands of people have suffered with this terrible illness and relied on medication and other earthly treatments to deal with it. Unfortunately, many people continue to endure this awful spiritual state and get stuck in the valley of darkness and hopelessness. They feel hopeless and overwhelmed by life's burden. They do not see the purpose and joy of their lives. Every day, they feel sad and do not seem to be motivated to do anything.
That is why we, the believers, rely on God and religion to give meaning to our lives and motivate us to go out and change the world. We love to engage with the world and find each day as an opportunity to carry out the mission of salvation that our faith has called us to do. Our faith and religion challenge us to bring the good news to the world and make a difference for it. As Christians, we are called to imitate the holy life of Jesus in this life so that we may be rewarded with the eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven. If there is one thing we Christians do not lack, it is hope. We Christians are hopeful people who always rely on divine power to help us deal with our life challenges and have courage to carry our daily crosses. We would do anything to stay close to God or find God's presence in our life. God will inspire and motivate us to be faithful witnesses of God's love to the world.
Suicide and depression are not the only problems people have to face these days. Another serious problem that many people of our time are suffering from is some form of addiction. People might be addicted to alcohol, drugs, other substances, pleasure, sex, gambling, food, and so on. They become a slave to those bad habits and commit terrible acts to satisfy their dark desires. They get stuck in that dark and self-destructive world and cannot find their way out. They need a guide and savior to set them free from their bad habits and dark desires, as Moses did for the people of God from their bondage of slavery in Egypt. The one who was there with Moses and knew how to do that was God. God can help them put an end to their addiction and begin a new life. God can guide them home from their wayward lifestyle. God can give them grace and strength to resist relapse and overcome their personal demons. Those demons often give empty promises and fading joy. The pleasure and gratification they promise usually do not last. Worse yet, all the troubles and pains hidden behind an addition would soon reappear.
Only God can take away our pains and help us deal with our troubles. True joy can only be found in God and nowhere else in this world. God will satisfy all of our needs and desires, and fill in wherever we might be lacking. That is why people of God have come to God since the beginning of creation and asked for what they have needed. God, in turn, has healed them and answered their needs according to God's time.
Besides addiction, many people these days also suffer from another silent killer: namely, loneliness. People who suffer from this illness feel isolated and abandoned. Everyone around them seems to care about no one else but themselves. No one cares enough to befriend a lonesome person. Our fast-paced society and busy lifestyle exacerbates this problem. People would rather hide behind a mobile phone or a computer to handle their daily tasks. They no longer enjoy interacting with other people face-to-face or see any benefit from it. Many people these days do not even talk to or know their neighbors. Community-gathering places like churches, temples, mosques, outdoor markets, malls, museums, libraries, and so on are no longer favorite places for people of our time. Caring for the elderly and nursing home visits are not the qualities that our current culture desires and promotes. We see our high-tech culture and comfortable lifestyle isolate us more, instead of improving our relationships and moving us closer to our neighbors. This causes many people to suffer loneliness and creates that deadly problem for our time. In fact, most people who committed violent acts and horrible killings so far were reported to be loners.
Our modern medicine and other advanced treatments have not cured people from their feeling of loneliness. The only one who can bring comfort and companionship to a lonesome person is God, for God knows how to lift up our spirit by sending us some comforting and hopeful signs. God has all the right tools to cheer us and help us with our unique problems, if we know how to search for God. A lonesome person would not feel that way if he or she had God as his or her companion. That is why we, the faithful, go to church regularly or keep a daily prayer routine to keep ourselves in the presence of God all the time. We rarely feel lonely, because God is always by our side to keep us company.
Some people are afraid of being alone and would rush into a married relationship without much preparation or knowing their spouses well. That is why over 60 percent of our current marriages end up in divorce. This divorce phenomenon has put lots of stress and pain on many individuals and the family institution in modern times. The cause of many violent acts happening in our country and around the world has often been a nasty divorce or a horribly broken relationship. Those vile acts have been about anger, jealousy, and vengeance. If God is around, God will dissuade or talk those culprits out of it. God would also want all married couples to remain in love and peace instead of getting separated and angry with each other. Nothing would bring tears and pain to God more than seeing a broken family, for God desires unity and peace. Imagine this: If the relationships of the three persons within the Godhead — the Holy Trinity — fell apart, God would cease to exist. God certainly sympathizes with a broken relationship and would do anything to heal it. When God is present in a relationship, chances are it would remain intact. Therefore, we should search for God in a married relationship and make God the center of it.
However, relationships are not the only problem we have to deal with each day. We also have to face health and resource problems. Some of us might have trouble with our health, while others struggle with getting enough basic necessities for their daily life. Our health issues could make our daily life miserable. Our lack of food, clothes, and decent housing might be due to a poor economic condition or bad employment. Many people in Jesus's time had to deal with similar problems and came to Jesus for help. They called on him to heal their leprosy, blindness, hearing problem, speech impediment, paralysis, and possession by evil spirits. They also asked him to feed and nourish them.
Jesus always responded to their needs and delivered them from their health problems. He did not want them to suffer a minute longer. He wished them to return to their normal self. Similarly, he felt sorry for the poor and the hungry. A hungry crowd kept looking for him, and he asked his disciples to feed them. Many of us also feel inadequate and lack all sorts of things in this life, including good health. We need to learn from the people of God and try to search for God like they did for their needs back then. We must have God by our side daily so that God can give us a helping hand in times of need. God can help take care of our health and heal us in body, mind, and spirit. Or, if we need help with basic necessities, God could lend us a helping hand and provide us with those things as well. When we are in the presence of God, lots of wonderful things will happen.
In case we cannot see the benefits of having God in our life yet, we need to take a look at this Biblical passage: "The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:44–46). For us, the faithful, God and the Kingdom of Heaven are like the hidden treasure or the fine pearls. God is the source of true peace and happiness. If we can have a taste of it, it would be like being in Heaven. We would not want anything else. We would trade everything in this life for it. People have searched all over the world over the years for a peaceful and happy life. They have thought if they could get more money or material possessions, it might bring them a peaceful and happy life. But history has shown us that money or all the possessions are usually the source of evil and have brought misery and doom to their owners instead. Similarly, people have assumed that power, glamor, or pleasure might guarantee them a satisfied and joyful life. Unfortunately, most people associated with that often ended up being unhappy or terribly hurt.
The only way we could truly have a peaceful and happy life is to have God with us at all times, for God is the source of true peace and happiness. We do not have to rely on any form of alcohol, drugs, or other substances to achieve that. God can bring joy to our hearts and keep our lives peaceful amidst the chaos of the earthly world. God holds the key to our happy life on Earth and the eternal one in Heaven also. If we have God with us, we certainly have everything. We have nothing to worry or feel fearful about in this life. Like a motivated merchant, we strive every day to search for the precious treasure or fine pearls in God and would be willing to exchange everything we have for it. Once we have it, nothing else matters in this life. Therefore, in this book, we will figure out how to meet God every day and keep us close to God, for great and wonderful things happen when God is mixed with us!
One of the things we hear regularly from common folks and our political leaders is that they "have prayerfully considered" something, or they tell us that they "will pray for" someone or something, or they ask us to pray when our nation faces some natural disaster or catastrophe. But their lives and actions do not show that they really believe in prayer and the spiritual world. There is actually a disconnection between what they say publically and what they truly believe in their hearts. To put it another way, is the phrase "You are in my thoughts and prayers" simply a nice expression in our daily conversation, like other typical expressions (e.g., "Godspeed" or "God bless you")? Do people really mean all the spiritual things when they talk about them? Do people truly have a good connection with God and want us to have the same divine experience like they do? Or do they simply pretend to use the spiritual language to score political points and get good public approval?
What bothers me a lot is that we sometimes do not mean what we say in our conversations. Our actions do not match our words. We are still angry and hold grudges when we say, "I forgive you, and I will pray for you." Like our politicians, we can be pretentious and use religion for our own benefits and ambition. The scribes and Pharisees used to do that. Their abuse of religion and pretention of being pious made Jesus frown on them and call them hypocrites. Their real relationship with God did not match with their exterior piety. We learn that the scribes and Pharisees did not represent the real presence of God, but Jesus did in the eyes of the Gospel witnesses. There were many signs the people of God saw in Jesus to let them know the presence of God, besides his ability to do miracles and wonders. Those signs were love, mercy, peace, joy, hope, generosity, and faithfulness. In fact, they often said these things about Jesus: "We have never seen anything like this before," or "He taught us with such authority and not like our religious leaders," or "See how merciful and forgiving he was to him or her?"
Jesus showed us how important it is to have God around us and the big difference God would make in our lives. Miracles and wonderful things would happen when we were in the presence of God. Temptations and evil spirits certainly will not succeed when God is around us. We can see how valuable it is to surround ourselves with the presence of God. Realizing the blessing of God in our lives, I have intended to write this book and explore how we can tell if God is really present with us or not. As I mentioned above, religious and political leaders have often invoked God to support their causes or back up their arguments. But I have found that their actions often do not match their language of faith, or their way of life often does not reflect the presence of God. God and religion have become a political football for these leaders to use publically and cover up their real selves. It is difficult for us to see the presence of God around them when they do not live up to God's commandments and act on those. Similarly, ordinary people have used the language of faith to describe how God has changed them or to claim that they have God on their side. Sadly, their actions do not back up their rhetoric but further confuse the public, as they show all sorts of anger and hatred in everything they do.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Searching for God, The Precious Treasure, In my Daily Life"
Copyright © 2018 Reverend Peter G. Vu.
Excerpted by permission of Dog Ear Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Why We Need God Every Moment of Our Life; Seven Signs to Show that We Truly Have Met God: Love, Mercy, Peace, Joy, Hope, Generosity, and Faithfulness, 1,
2. How God Was Found in the Old Testament, 47,
3. How God Was Found in the New Testament, 63,
4. Whether God Is Still Needed in a High-Tech and Comfortable Society, and How God Can Be Found in Modern Times, 85,
5. How an Ordinary Person Finds God throughout the Week, 93,
Monday: Finding God in a Family or a Home, 95,
Tuesday: Finding God at a School, a Library, or a Center of Education, 97,
Wednesday: Finding God at Work, a Repair Shop, a Bank, or a Place of Business, 99,
Thursday: Finding God in a Neighborhood or a Place of Charity, 101,
Friday: Finding God at a Ball Game, a Theater, or a Center of Entertainment, 103,
Saturday: Finding God at a Shopping Mall, a Grocery Store, or a Public Place, 105,
Sunday: Finding God at a Church, a Temple, or a Mosque, 106,
6. How an Ordinary Person Finds God in Extraordinary Situations, 109,
Broken relationships, 112,
Daily Problems, 114,
Other Unusual Situations, 115,
Also by Rev. Peter G. Vu, 118,