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Posts Tagged ‘Job’

Ruins

 

Have you ever felt like the image above? Have you ever felt like a part of your life mirrored that image?

old?

trashed?

abandoned?

falling apart?

ruined?

I think we all have at different points in our lives, when the demons who haunt us, and the realities of life in this very human world, affect our daily lives, relationships and bodies.

The Psalmist also had such experiences and feelings:

I say to God my Rock,
“why have you forgotten me?
why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by my enemy?”
Psalm 42:9

… A Psalm of David,
my God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?

Psalm 22:1

Even Jesus, the Son of God, cried out from the cross,

Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46

When our life, in part or whole, seems to be in ruins, we do not sit in the mire alone. Matthew 28:20 reminds us that “I (Christ) am with you always, to the end of the world.”

What comfort to know that we are not alone in our desperate times, in our darkest moments.

“Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

He is always there to lean on, to count on, but he wants to be more than just a shoulder to cry on. He wants us to tell him where it hurts.

“cast all your cares/anxieties on him
because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

A few years ago, Amy Grant had a song released called “Better than a Hallelujah” and one of the lines in it describe our need to cast those cares honestly, sincerely, maybe even with tears in our eyes and fist shaking to the skies:

the honest cries of breaking hearts, are better than a hallelujah.”

Even Job, sitting on a dung heap, scraping the sores all over his body with broken pottery, did not sin with his lips, but did question why God had allowed him to be born. He was (literally) in the dumps, but when faced with God, he confessed his sins, and God put a new dream in Job’s heart.

We need not stay in ruins.

God is always with us, and he does not leave us in our mire forever.

Maybe, today, you cannot see even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe your heart is broken into so many pieces that you could never imagine it being put back together. Maybe the energy to have hope is just too much for you. Maybe your hope is only in the foreverland of life after death.

If you have breath, you have purpose, you can dream, you can pursue the purpose that God has placed in your heart. “Do not let your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1)

God has a plan for your life, and if you still have breath, you can still pursue whatever he holds for you in your future.

If you have breath, praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6). If praising God is all that you can do, do it!

God is with you always, praise him with your every breath.

 

 

 

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Yesterday I wrote about worship. I touched on the example of Job who praised God, even in the midst of losing every earthly thing that a man or woman could hold dear. His is not an easy example to follow, but I do believe that his response to adversity is one worth aiming to mirror in our lives.

One of the difficulties of reading the Bible is that we cannot always be clear as to how a person is saying the words that they say. We are missing key elements of communication. We do not always know what words in their sentences are emphasized more (or less), we do not know how their face looked, and we do not know if they rolled their eyes while they were talking (I have teenagers in my house, and something like ‘yes mom’ can have so many different meanings, depending on how it is said, what they are doing with their bodies and what their eyes are doing).

Our communication is so so much clearer when we experience it face to face.

But we do not have that opportunity when we read the Bible, so we are left to guess, assume, and input our own take on just how things might have been communicated. I, being an internal processor, would tend to go with the third option, that of inputting my own take on just how things might have been communicated.

When I think of the disasters, disappointments and losses that Job faced, I am pretty confident that he did not say, in a way that my kids might announce an A+ on their Math test, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, praise the name of the Lord.” I also do not think he made that announcement as a question. I also do not think that he said what he did without tears of true and sincere pain falling down his cheeks.

I believe that God heard Jobs cry, I believe that God accepted Jobs praise, through his lament, through his tears and through his not seeing or understanding the big picture that God could see. And, I believe that Jobs tear-filled praise of the name of the Lord was sweeter than honey to the ears of God. Not because Job gave God praise that was due to Him (although it was), but because despite the outer turmoil that Job was facing and experiencing, head on, he gave his praise to God … anyway. He praised because that was what he was created to do. It was his main purpose, and he was fulfilling it … even though he was suffering.

God does not ask for the sugar-coated prayers and praises that we so often give (in public). God asks for prayers and praise that are saturated in the tears of his children. He wants our offering to Him to be one that we deliver on the alter … one that took effort and sacrifice. One that came from the heart … the heart of His child.

I hate suffering! I honestly do wish that I could live my life on easy street, and have every wish granted before I speak it. I do wish that there were guarantees in this life. But, that is not real life, here in our sin-filled world. I also have to say that the times when my heart felt as though it might be ripped in two (or I wished that it would be) by the pain I was feeling, are also the times when I was most real to God. I scream, I shout, I cry … I forfeit … yes, I give up. It is then, when I am so worn out, so discouraged, and feeling so hopeless that I finally hand control of my life back over to the only one who can control my life … my creator, my savior my redeemer.

That giving up of control, is when God takes over. Because we have been sincere in our heart, He is able to mold our lives.

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It was a Sunday morning when, although I was fighting a miserable cold, the joy of singing in corporate worship to my Creator was such a joyful experience and privilege.

Until, I started to look around the sanctuary. I was dismayed to see many people not worshiping. There were people standing with their mouths closed. There were people sitting reading their bulletins. There were people sitting … staring straight ahead. There were people standing, looking around the room … oups! That was me too!

I found myself to be very critical of those who I was watching. Until I realized that maybe there were reasons for their non-participation in worship.

Maybe some of them were dealing with sorrows so deep, so dark that they could not open their mouths to sing the words. Or maybe they had been dealing with illness or physical conditions that are so debilitating that they could no longer sing songs of joy. Or maybe there were those who were facing their own private financial crises, with their demise, the demise of their family just around the next corner. Or, maybe they simply cannot sing … now that I can so relate to (well, my family can relate to my lack of vocal abilities).

So, I turned my head towards the lyrics of the song on the screen at the front of the room, and continued my own participation in the corporate worship:

“Blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord”

And I thought, oh how I love this worship song, because it parallels the biblical story of Job … the man who God allowed Satan to take away all that was of earthly value to him. Job was inflicted with painful sores on his skin, his lively hood was destroyed, his children and wife died. And, through all of that, how did Job respond? “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

But wait, that means that Job had suffered sorrows, illness, financial crises and earthly loss of family members … just like the possible reasons (excuses?) I had guessed that people in church might not be singing.

But wait!

There is one difference … Job kept praising the Lord.

May I not forget that despite all that Job lost of what he loved, despite the pain, the sorrow, the loss and the personal crises that Job faced, he never stopped praising the Lord.

“Give to the Lord the glory due to His name;

worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array.”

Psalm 29:2

“I tell you, if they (you … His disciples) keep quiet,

even the rocks will cry out.”

Luke 19:40

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If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I am mesmerized by the book and the person of Job.

I am in awe at how he suffered, and yet was still willing to offer up praise to his Creator:

“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

Job was a good and righteous man. He had many earthly treasures, and all were taken from him. After losing all of the people, and things, and health that was good, he is tormented by his neighbors. They are certain that Job must have sinned terribly for God to have cursed himself in every part of his life, and they (like tabloid editors) want to know all of the details of his sin.

jb11_01p05-06

Job sits and listens to their speeches.

But, Job was real too. Although he never ceased to praise his Maker, he also had his pity party:

jb02_08

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.
You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.
You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.
I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.”
Job 30:20-23

In the end, God responds both to Job’s ‘friends’, as well as to Job’s groaning:

jb39_35

Then Job, in humility, and understanding of who is really in charge, replied to the Lord:

jb40_03-05

“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 40:2-3

“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.”
Job 42:12

“All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender all of these, into Your hands
For it’s only in Your will that I am free”

* if you want to see more of the stories of the Bible told with similar images, check out The Brick Testament

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31525266111735619_mN9c2Kr4_bI have been pondering the question, “who am I?”

As I have been pondering and researching that question I have kept returning to the same response …

Before I get to that response, let me expose myself to you first (my kids would now place their hands over their eyes and say “TMI Mom” (too much information).

As I see myself, I see one word …

f   a   i   l   u   r   e

As a wife, I am a failure.
I love my husband, but truly I do not always like him. I do not put his needs first (unless he has done something to meet my own before that). I do not love him unconditionally. I do not save my best for him. He usually gets all the frustrations of my day dumped onto his shoulders (and the residual anger and frustration).

As the wife of my husband who is a pastor, I am a failure.
I do not even try to ‘work along side of him in his role. I do not sit with him in church. I do not spend my every spare minute leading Bible studies, teaching Sunday School or visiting the sick. I do not initiate connecting with people from church on a weekly, or even regular basis. I do not even play the piano!

As a mom, I am a failure.
When our three kids were born, I had such grand intentions. I whispered promises that I have broken over and over again. I have not stepped in when they have needed me to. I have ‘wigged out’ at and on them, like a wild woman. I have not tucked them in, with stories and prayers every night of their existence. I have not helped them with homework on a daily basis (in this I am a really big failure, because that is what I get paid to do at school!). Heck, there is a science fair coming up, and I have not done much other than edit my son’s paper. I have even told them, “no, I do not want to hug you right now.”

In my job, I am a failure.
I do not use my time well. I do not show up to classes prepared. I stand in the hallways and chat, when my students are in class. I do not always follow directions from my supervisors. I have even been known to leave early. I do not always like my students, my co-workers, my supervisors, my school.

As a friend, I am a failure.
I do not always make time for my friends. I do not always return their calls, emails, texts, messages quickly. I do not always remember their birthdays. I do not always listen actively to them.

As a child of God, I am a failure.
He, who I say is the most important part of my life, does not always get my attention … at all.

But …

Because I am a child of God, who I am is a reflection, not of what I see in a mirror, but who I am when His light is reflected through me.

Like the image at the top of the page, I am like that elderly woman. I am weighted down by the reality of living in this sin-filled body, in this sin-filled world. My body, my mind, my heart are aging towards their natural end … death. But, like that lady in that image, who I am is being reflected, not as I think I am, but as the beloved of the King.

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”
Song of Solomon 6:3

Who do you think you are? In the light of your heavenly Father, you are

B   E   L   O   V   E   D

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desrais_claude_louis-job_on_the_dung_hill_scolded_by_his_w~OM421300~10000_20090708_L09640_62The picture to the right was created by Claude Louis Desrais. It is a depiction of Job, sitting on a dunghill, being scolded by his wife.

I don’t want to be that kind of wife …

Job lost just about everything. He lost his livestock, his servants, his ten children. What God had blessed him with, was taken away.

Then, “his wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”(Job 1:9).

I don’t want to be that kind of wife …

But …

… she lost too. Her ten children were dead. Her husband’s livestock and servants gone, leaving little to no means of survival. Job was not the only one suffering, she was mourning, she was up to her neck in the depths of despair.

It is in the response that Job gave to her that I understand him better:

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 1:10)

Job did not say, “you ARE a foolish woman” he said “you are talking LIKE a foolish woman.” This would indicate that maybe this was not a normal response for Job’s wife, but that maybe she had reached her breaking point. Then Job says, “shall WE accept good from God, and not trouble,” his statement was one that included her, and he was reminding his wife, reminding himself, that God had indeed blessed them with good things, and that just as they had trusted Him in the good, they both needed to trust him in the bad.

Then Job’s health was affected, with soars covering his body. In all of this suffering Job not longer heard God’s voice … something he so longed for. Now it seemed that everything was taken from him.

Then his wife said to him, “are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)

I don’t want to be that kind of wife …

Just when he is knocked almost completely to the ground he came from, his wife kicks him in the ribs with her words.

I don’t want to be that kind of wife …

Then he replied to his wife again, similarly to his previous reply, “you are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

Oh, how easy it is to be a foolish wife (or husband, or child, or …). How easy it is to see someone we love suffer, and look to whatever way possible to relieve that loved one of their suffering. Sometimes we are so desperate that we suggest that which is simply … foolish.

I don’t want to be that kind of wife …

We do not hear of his wife again in the account of Job, other than the report that when Satan was done with Job, God restored everything to Job, including ten new children, who we are left to suppose were also children of his wife. What I wonder is if she understood the foolishness of her words to Job.

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When I grow up I want to be a ….

That question always flashes me to my mother singing that famous song by Doris Day;
“Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be”

From an early age we ask little ones what they want to be when they grow up. Usually they respond, a fireman, a teacher, a nurse, a policeman, a mommy. As these children grow up and enter school they are exposed to so many more future possibilities; a paleontologist, a librarian, a janitor (all those keys), a doctor, a bee keeper. Then they hit high school, and the possibilities seem endless.

What do I want to be?

Through the years I have wanted to be a mommy, a teacher, a nurse, a special needs assistant, an architect, a doctor, a counselor, and a writer (with a really good editor, who could deal with my poor grammar).

At thirty-nine (with four years experience) I am still asking myself that question. I have had tasks, jobs and titles that have paid the bills and fed my soul. I have worked as a Draftsman, an office assistant, a residential care aide, and an educational assistant.

As our kids are becoming older, I find myself asking that question now again, with the same unknowing vision of the future.

My most favorite jobs so far have been stay-at-home mom, (approaching it as a serious job, with no soaps and bon bons for me) and working with students as an Educational Assistant. But, I can see the nest emptying in the next few years, as our kids ‘get a life’ of their own. I also recognize that I have gone as far as I can in my ‘paid’ profession, and wonder if it can sustain me and my undiagnosed ADD for another twenty years or more.

I really do not know what to do, but I know that whatever I will BE is already there.

Who we will be, who we are, has far more to do with our character than our education and skills set. Who we are is a combination of our strengths and weaknesses, past accomplishments and failures, our beliefs and how we put them into practice. Who we are is foundational in discovering how to best use the passions and abilities we have within us.

So, now what?

“Whatever will be will be, will be … que Sera, Sera”

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