August 10, 2009

Summer of Discontent

I can't complain. I've learned a good lesson, that God is always there and is always dependable to be righteous in every situation. I've learned to embrace that - and even not fear that - and it gives me strength and outright joy. And things aren't "bad", nor can they be when you realize these things about God. It's been a strange summer though.

There were two preliminary diagnosis, rather scary ones, that turned out to be nothing. Juvenile diabetes? A cracked skull? No. There is family strife right now because of a disagreement between my sister and I about the kids. My best friend's father died last month and we had the funeral and all the obligatory things that come along with that. A couple other things that rocked the boat, but if life is a boat then shouldn't we figure in squalls and tides?

I opened my Bible again for my daily study, which hasn't been so daily. I am still continuing to read through the Bible and my intentions were "straight through", but somewhere along the line I skipped Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Job. I can't even remember why but I had to grin from ear to ear when I went back to these and finally began Job.

I read Job years ago with my husband and another couple. We spent weeks studying Job with a guided study and really enjoyed it. This time I thought it'd be a quick run through since I remembered Job well. So I breezed in with a knowing confidence. When I came to the first chapter of the LifeGuide Study guide the brakes screeched and I laughed aloud - at or with the Lord, I might add, because I think I felt Him winking at me as I read these words: Is it possible to love God for God's sake, and not merely for the benefits of being faithful, even when there are benefits? And what if these benefits are all removed and one is left with no benefit but God alone? I had no idea why I'd skipped Job until this summer, but I got a strong feeling it was in His plan for me.

Next chapter: he is plunged into excruciating loss, a living death. Job's new test will examine whether his belief in the goodness of God can be subverted by unalterably negative circumstances.

The Old Testament is so beautiful. It tells us over and over again why we need what happens in the New Testament. If all we heard was the New Testament, we'd never really know why Jesus came at all, we'd never know how much we need Him. And the book of Job, though I am no Job, specifically answers my question - how can I live with squalls and tides? Aren't I supposed to be happy? How can I see God through all this bad stuff? How am I supposed to operate from a place of peace when something I didn't want happened today? How do You expect me to have faith in You when my life isn't exactly how I envisioned it or exactly what I think I can deal with?

Boy it feels good to let those feelings and questions go. Sure they fly through my head sometimes but the answer is always there waiting to redirect. I can find all good things with Him and only with Him. Once the question of whether God loves us has been answered - Yes, all of us - then chapter 6 asked me this: The real question is not whether God loves us, but whether he approves of us, whether we are pleasing to him. Whoa. So not only do I acknowledge that God is here with me while I go through tough days, I need to consider if my behavior in these situations is pleasing to Him. I'm both comforted in my pain and challenged with a firm course for success at the same time.

The summer is not mine for contentment or happiness, though I've been blessed with plenty of those too. God has a plan, just ask Job.


Paul Nichols said...

Nice post. Real nice. Enjoyed it. And I know the feeling. But thanks for the hope idea.

Mom said...

Job is a powerful story. It reminds me that I am not God. I just have to hold onto the Almighty and wait until God's plan is revealed. The All-wise God is leading me.

rosemary said...

Not a new revelation....I have never read the Bible. To be honest...and when you tell us about your life so honestly I can't be otherwise....I find the language difficult to figure out. My sister in law gave me a woman's Bible shortly before she passed is supposed to be simple and has side notes to help....she was going through so very much...I was too but of course in a much, much smaller way and she thought this gift would bring me some peace. One day I will attempt to start reading it again...but for now the prayer Mom sent me brings me comfort.