Tag Archive: Pain

Is He Talking to Me?

Day 74 Deuteronomy 11-13

  I’m not sure if God’s leading me into a period of desert wandering, or a new promise land or perhaps I’m over doing the analogies but I do know my life is taking a dramatic unexpected turn… what now do I do with it?  Over the last two days I’ve felt as though some of Moses’ advice to the young Israelites was speaking to me.  Yesterdays the verses Deut. 8: 2-5 touched me and I thought about them through out the day:  2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. 

   What struck a chord with me was Humbled… right now I feel utterly humbled.  I think of it as a good thing, not necessarily my circumstances (at all) but the opportunity to be humbled by them… it brings us into a much more honest approach to God… we are less likely to take credit for what is good in our lives and more likely to cling to our Maker with all we’ve got.  When something really horrid happens how many of us utter the words, “Oh God.”   No matter how we stray it’s trying times that reminds us who we really should be dependent on.  Through this process there is almost a liberating feeling.. oh, it’s not just my burden to bear, look the LORD is here to bear it with me.

   Today’s passages struck me on an application level as well.. the idea of blessings and curses based on following the law.  In a way it sounds like a dictatorship on the surface.. I honestly think our resistance to following directions is the fundamental foundation of sin… “Eat whatever you’d like except don’t eat of this tree…   [chomp]  ok little missy and little mister we need to talk about following directions!”  The commandments aren’t too horrid, well the big ten at least make sense.  If you keep the ten commandments you’d be better off than if you didn’t.  To me that’s the blessing and the curse… So I’m left wondering (and again perhaps I’m being a little too literal with the analogies, but it’s where I am so put up with it..) as I enter this new “phase” of my life what idols will I encounter and how will I handle them?  How do I navigate this new world keeping the Lord close?  My buddy Jena commented that “There is strength in obedience” after reading today passages.  The Lord knows I need strength right now.  Do what’s right even though every fiber of my being wants to throw a royal temper tantrum the likes of have never been seen before .  I’d be justified, but to who?  How can I keep God’s commandments and avoid idols as I pass into this new life? What would they look like? I only needed to listen to 20 minutes of pop culture radio to be reintroduced to some of the biggies. I won’t know till I’m there, but I’m pretty sure keeping commandments and avoiding idols involves loving and serving God through the yuck, despite the yuck, with in the yuck. 

     I don’t feel like I’m walking into a promise land, but I have been promised that “it’s all going to be ok.”  It’s so vague, too vague.  I want to know how, when, why… WHY I’m dealing with what I’m dealing with.  It’s all going to be ok… I cling to that and I cling to my Maker.  I will try to continue to walk the walk, I will be humbled and be proud of it (LOL the irony just hit me), I will avoid the pitfalls that are sure to come in this new uncharted territory.  I am not alone… with God going before me and friends He’s sent by my side I know, I know, I know I’m going to be ok.


Don’t Should On Me

Day 13 Job 35-37

Elihu, Elihu, Elihu…. SO wise yet so full of “shoulds.”  Elihu is the young man who almost gets it… but falls short.  His argument seems sound, repent Job and you will find favor again with God.  Yet the problem is like the friends before him, the very ones he mocked for failing,  Elihu still assumes that God is punishing Job. Well, I guess Elihu puts an interesting spin on it and says God is Wooing Job with pain to get him to turn away from away from sin.  In Elihu’s defense, what little history exists seems to back up his theory,  Adam and Eve sin-they get kicked out of paradise.  The world is evil – God sends a flood.  Man builds a tower instead of scattering and multiplying-God destroys tower and scatters them.  So their theories hold some water… and yet they are still wrong.  Job is not being punished for any wrong doings.  He’s being used for a greater good.. to prove that Job’s love for God is such that he will never curse God.  (Lord, may I never be a righteous as Job so that you would test me in a similar manner).

    Here is what I take most issue with in regards to Elihu:  He’s “Shoulding” all over his friend. According to Elihu Job should be bowing to God in reverence over God’s power, not whining to God about pain and unjust suffering.  Job should be asking for God’s mercy not demanding explanations.  Should Should Should. 

   During mentorship training at my church my good buddy Traci, the Social Worker teaching the class, taught us this:  “Don’t should on yourselves and don’t should on others.”   All a “should” will do is create more stress and prevent less movement forward.  I think Job is in so much pain I will never be able to relate… He doesn’t need a big pile of should shoveled on top of him… he needs a friend to say, “I’m sorry, you have a right to hurt, you have a right to question, and you have a God that listens even when we feel like he doesn’t.  So it’s ok to tell it to God.  Maybe one day we’ll learn what good can come of this but for now you have a right to hurt and feel angry.”

Lord, may the words of Elihu never come out of my mouth… yet I know it has, I get the feeling that while I understand that I am not to should on others I get the feeling that I do it all the time… show me my shoulds I’ve piled up on myself and others.  help me to not should on others.

(for those grammar nuts out there please forgive me for the grave misuse of the world should.  Yes, I’m aware that in the context in which I’m using the word another s-word feels fitting as well,  I think that’s funny… do you?)

The Orthodox Paradox

Day 12 Job 32-34 

Elihu, who I’m sure is bristling about the young whippersnapper comments just made by Job, is out to prove himself wise.. and doesn’t do a half bad job at it.  Elihu is still saying Job must have done something wrong… just not being too specific in what he thinks Job did wrong other than quoting back what Job’s been saying.  So he’s a lot nicer than the other “friends” who invented crimes of Job to explain Job’s circumstances.  Elihu is right when he says God can’t be wrong..  He didn’t make a mistake in regards to Job, and it was good of Elihu to point this out because Job is getting really close to saying “I’m not wrong, God is wrong.”  However, Elihu is wrong about Job’s character… Job never claimed to be sinless, but he is righteous (meaning he does the right thing). He hasn’t done anything Big to deserve punishment of such a magnitude… Would it be so bad to take Elihu’s advice and say to God, “Obviously I’m guilty of something big, whatever it is I will stop, but God can you show me what I’m being punished for?”  You know Job hasn’t really been all that humble…  BUT, again we’re still stuck in this Orthodox way of thinking… that when we are in pain (emotional, physical, circumstantial) that it is God punishing us.  That’s not what happened to Job.. so what’s really going on and what is the deeper lesson to all this?

Was Job 33: 23-30 a Jesus sighting?!

Does Repentance = Healing?

Day 9 Job 21-23

Job initially makes a good point.. thus far his friends stand by the belief that evil people get punished by God, therefore people who are sick like Job must have been evil.  But Job points out that not all evil people suffer, some die quite comfortably, placed in fancy graves and honored for things they didn’t do.  It’s certainly our human desire that the evil get what they have coming to them, that they die a horrible death… but that doesn’t always happen it just doesn’t.

After Eliphaz is done taking his pot-shots at Job,  I totally disagree when he says “[God] roams the heavens wrapped in clouds how can He see us?”  But then suddenly  he starts to sound really familiar… it’s essentially repent and you will be healed.  I am suddenly reminded of a T V evangelist.  Job 21-30 gave me chills… and I’m trying to sort out why.  It’s like it’s half right, “right-ish”  and I want this guy to be just plain WRONG… This story though is making a good point.  First off Eliphaz is wrong about Job and God… God knows Job, loves Job and cares about Job.  Job isn’t being punished for any of his wrong doings so telling Job to “come to terms with God… and let God clean out the evil” isn’t going to work.  Even though what Eliphaz is saying seems to make sense and one could even argue you see a smidgen of care involved in the words, Eliphaz is wrong.  Life is not that simple.  God’s love is simple, salvation is simple, but life circumstances isn’t.  An Evil man dying of cancer who repents before God during his last moments on earth will likely still die a painful death, but will live with God in eternity.  I dare say Eliphaz wouldn’t like THAT reality.  Not many of us do, but I stand in awe of it… the depth of love that comes from our God. 

     Repent and you may be healed, but you get even better, an eternal life serving The Lord.  Everyone dies, a lot of us suffer during our lifetime.  There are times God allows pain and times God takes it away.  I do not pretend to understand the why to it.  I do know this, God asks us live life with what we have to the fullest. In order to do that we have to seek him as Job does, to the North, South, East, West. We come to Him, and He will take us seriously.  Sometimes God heals, Sometimes he doesn’t.  In either case we can still honor Him and trust Him.  He knows the bigger picture.

The Tummy Bug Perspective

Day 6 Job 10-13

I read todays scriptures in bed..  I got the link out to the  Facebook group a day early because I knew I was getting pretty sick with a tummy bug.  I’m not the nicest sick person in the world, I don’t like hurting and I especially don’t like tummy bugs.  But I felt well enough to get the boys to school in rainy weather, go to the store and pick up my “I’m sick” supplies  and make it back home.  I may have looked like death warmed over but I got the job done. I’m kind of proud I accomplished even that little bit, and I’m kind of looking forward to taking the day “off” as much as  Mommy can anyhow…

Why am I telling you all this? Well first off I just really want to complain to somebody, I hurt, I feel sick, and while my baby girl keeps giving me hugs and pat pat pats I desire sympathy from my friends and family.  It warms the heard when a friend send a message like I’m praying for you, Hugs, get feeling better.  These are the kinds of friends Job needed, but did not have. Secondly, while my family hasn’t been wiped out with by a tornado, and my pain is minimal I feel like being sick is a unique frame of mind with which to read Job. I will, however,  refrain from thanking the bacteria in my belly that made this unique perspective possible, if that’s ok.

I’ve never known pain so bad I wished I would die, or wished I was never born… the best I’ve got compared to Job is during my battles with depression I knew the feeling of wishing with all my heart that I didn’t have to get out of bed.  I’ve been so emotionally tied in nots before I just pleaded that it all be over.  What I needed during those times in my life was help.  I needed help from my God to get out of that bed, and once again face life, no matter how bland and tasteless it had become, I needed friends to surround me and just be there to make me smile again.  During the adoption of my daughter I felt wrapped in God’s reassurances despite being frightened by my circumstances and all the unknowns of the process while staying in a foreign country… my friends hourly sent messages of love, prayer, mourned with me while I struggled with disappointing news and celebrated when we learned great news… they were there for me!  God was there for me! 

Job, while his friends came in his hour of need, didn’t give Job what he needed.. love.  I really honestly don’t think their words or even their presence was an act of love on their part.  I think they were there to gloat over the man who had been so perfect this whole time.  I think they took pleasure in Jobs pain. there is a part of me that can relate to that… I mean I can relate to Job’s friends (Say What?!).  Let’s be honest with ourselves shall we… the magazines are in  the check-out line shouting out the latest misfortunes and crimes of Hollywood’s luckiest stars.  Oh how dare Jessica Simpson be a home wrecker!  Oh yes it’s SO my business to know who is gay and who is not… So sad about the desperate housewife running off her husband and being so mean to her co-star… did I mention I dropped by the grocery store this morning?  I guess you know then what I was  taking guilty pleasure in reading.  I’m no good friend to anybody who will ever be on the cover of Us… but I don’t think even reading the covers with a smile on my lips is kind, friend or not.  Here is the root of the issue.  Perhaps there is a part of me that desires to have their good looks, their attention, their talent.  But I don’t, and for the most part I’m ok with that BUT there is always that little part that looks to see how has Queen Mother Angelina Jolie failed today. It’s because that same part of me that envies them also wants to see them fail, knock them down a few notches and make them less perfect.  I’d never pick up or purchase one of those magazines!  But I look at those covers every single time.

   And you thought I was perfect.. HA!  I’m not saying what I do is the worst thing in the world all I’m saying is I get it and those are NO friends to Job.  I get a kick out of him calling them pompous quacks and that silence in their only wisdom.  LOL that needs to be painted on a sign and hung on the wall at The Brunchery!  Wait, am I taking guilty pleasure in witnessing a fight that occurred close to the beginning of the human race?  Yeah… I guess so.  Ooops.

   Lord,   I’m so glad my friends are not like Job’s “friends.”  Mine know what to say and when to say it, and it’s all said in love.  I thank You for them, and thank You for You.  You are the ultimate friend and offer the ultimate love!  I confess I fall short… help mend that flaw in me, highlight it, then together let’s obliterate it!  I don’t ever want to be like Job’s friends again.

Asking why is the wrong question

Day 4 Job 1-5

So basically according to Job’s friend Job’s pain and anguish must be a punishment from God for something Job did.  I believe in natural consequences of our actions, but I do NOT believe God punishes us like this!  Yes bad things happen, horrible things happen but it’s not our Creator punishing us for our sin (even if Pat Robertson wants to say otherwise).  God can allow bad things to happen, but for a greater good we can not comprehend when we are experiencing them.  here is the sad part, I’ve totally heard other Christians giving advice like Job’s first friend… “Oh you just found out you have Crohns?  it must be your sin  that caused it, you should repent.”  What?!  No… lesson of the day for me?  Don’t give advice like Job’s friend number one, you’re wrong..

Lord this passage really got me riled up, Job’s friend’s advice was so wrong but i see it here and now… it’s like Westboro Babtist Church who picket the funerals of service members claiming soldiers died because of homosexuality… I’m furious about that!  You allow horrible things to happen on this earth to the bad and to good alike. I believe in repentance but I don’t think the meaning of life is trying to determine what we’re being punished for, I think we need to seek you in any circumstance, and try and figure out what good we can make of it. 

  Lord I feel very blessed, which makes me uneasy about the story of Job… help me to let go of that which really isn’t mine to begin with.  Keep me under your wing no matter what life hands me.  Like those I met in Uganda, though they had next to nothing, know much more pain and suffering than I, they trusted You, loved You and worshiped You like nothing I’d ever seen before.  May THEY be my teacher,  May THEY be the example I seek. May I always seek you through all of life’s experiences.  If there is no answer to the question “why” then lead me from it, guide me instead to the question, “what am I going to do with what I’ve got that glorifies my Creator?”