Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Choosing to be bitter or better

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Job 4, 5, 6

Job 6:8-10 (NIV)

8 [Job said,] “Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for,

9 that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose His hand and cut me off!

10 Then I would still have this consolation – my joy in unrelenting pain – that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Good morning!

Poor Job! He was living a nightmare. In one fell swoop, he lost his material wealth, earthly possessions, the children he adored, and his health. Now Job was losing his friends. It is easy to sit back and point the finger at someone who is struggling. We humans have a tendency to try to explain away the ills of the world. Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zuphar, adopted the cause and effect theory; they believed Job must have done something very wrong to bring about his suffering. It is human nature to want to know why things happen the way they do, and it is easier to place blame and turn away, than choose to hold the hand of the hurting one and suffer alongside them. There are some circumstances in life that we may never fully understand why. For instance, why are babies born with cancer? Why are mass numbers of people starving to death around the world? Why would anyone ever choose to abuse and exploit an innocent, trusting child? These questions resonate in my heart. There are many mornings when I sit weeping at the master’s feet. He catches the tears of my grief as I mourn for a suffering humanity. I especially grieve for the children. There are some things in this life that I will never understand.

It was doubly difficult for Job to find peace. He had searched his heart over and over again, wondering why the Lord would pull life’s blessings away from him, allowing his family to experience long suffering and unending misery. Have you ever been so distraught and in so much pain that you simply wanted to die? Overwhelming grief and excruciating physical pain can cause us moments of extreme despair. Job loved the Lord. The thought that he might have sinned against the God He adored was more unbearable than the physical and emotional suffering he experienced. He never meant to break God’s heart, and Job was beginning to feel responsible for the situation he found himself in. After all, his friends kept telling him so. Has anyone ever tried to tell you that your unfortunate circumstance or situation may not have happened because of something you did or said in your past?

It is easier to give up and bail out when we find our life dangling by a thread in extreme situations. In my life, there are some things that God never intended for me to fully understand. He wants me to trust Him, not just when times are good, but especially when life is hard. We can become our own worst enemies, allowing ourselves to be cynical and bitter. This attitude can eventually lead us to blame God for the troubles in our life. Isn’t it good that God understood the condition of Job’s heart! He will not abandon us in our season of suffering and grief. We must choose to trust the Lord in the things we do not understand. He can reach us if we are willing to lay our hearts before His throne of mercy and grace. He will use our story to bring Him glory. Are we willing to tell it? Are we able to share our most painful and private hurts, if it might bring hope to a sister or brother who is suffering in silence today?

We tend to look at the outward circumstance and pass judgment all too quickly based upon our limited knowledge. Isn’t it good that the Lord God Almighty does not look on the outside? He looks upon the heart and He knows who you are and whose you are, even when you cannot see Him clearly.

It is a miserable thing to suffer and grieve. When pain tells me to quit, this is when my faith kicks in and keeps me going. Through Jesus Christ, He gives me the assurance and hope in knowing one day, the hurting will end and He will dry every tear with His holy hand. There are some things we simply cannot control in our life. We do have the power to choose whether to let our circumstances make us bitter or better. How far am I willing to let it go, in order to honor the Lord I love? Is it possible that my story might bring hope to someone who is struggling to survive? Jesus speaks through our pain. Will you let the story of your life bring God glory today?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: peace that passes all understanding. We can choose to be better, rather than bitter, especially in times of suffering. When we stop focusing on ourselves and look to the Lord for our constant hope and help, He will give us perfect peace, especially when we are suffering. Quit focusing on your situation, and look up! Jesus is waiting for you to give Him all your pain, once and for all.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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