The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bitter or Better??

Years ago.....over 30 years ago....after the car accident, I heard my pastor say, "When hard things happen in life, we will either get bitter or better."

And one thing I did not want to become was bitter, and I didn't.....at least for awhile.

In Hebrews 12, we read:
"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;"

The writer has been talking about hard times, suffering, discipline that "yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness." But that discipline can also bring bitterness, if we don't respond correctly and see God's hand in the difficulties we are facing.

And that's the problem, we don't mean for it to happen, we don't want bitterness to invade like a worm, because it can eat us up. It becomes a consuming cancer within, and sometimes we don't realize it until it is out of control.

 I asked God often to keep me from bitterness because I had seen it in others and realized how devastating it can be.

It took awhile before thoughts were coming like, "Why?"  "God, I have not done anything bad enough to deserve this!"  "This isn't fair!"  "Are you sure this isn't a mistake??"  and so on.  What I was doing was questioning God about this difficult circumstance that he had brought into our lives.  I was questioning his wisdom, his sovereignty, his love because I didn't like the circumstances we were in.  I wanted an answer to the question "Why?"

One thing that God used to bring me back to truth was the book of Job.  There were months and months after the accident that I refused to read that book even though I knew Job had gone through terrible loss and suffering.  I thought that I didn't want to read about "patient" Job because I wasn't feeling very patient....That "worm" of bitterness was growing.

Finally, I sat down one day when the kids were playing, and I began reading the book.  I couldn't stop. I was amazed at what I read.  It was a balm for my weary heart.

Job wasn't patient....he wasn't patient at all.  He actually got pretty upset at God and insisted that he be told why!!  He told his friends and God that what had happened wasn't right because he had not sinned.  And of course we know he had sinned, we are all sinners, but that wasn't why he was suffering.  He was suffering because God had let Satan test Job to see if would still trust God even when things weren't all good in his life....Satan was allowed to take everything away from Job—houses, livestock, crops, children.....even his health.

But Job did trust God even if he was upset.  He trusted God, he believed in God.  He just wanted answers—that sounded familiar. And God didn't seem to mind the questions, the pleading, even Job's demands that God answer.

After Job's three so-called friends got done throwing their accusations (mostly wrong) and advice (also mostly wrong) at Job, they left. Then we see Job seeking God.  He begs God to tell him why he was going through this horrendous suffering.

And finally God speaks and Job listens.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
 Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you [Job] make it known to me.

 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Job 39

God never did tell Job why He had brought the suffering. God just explains to Job a little bit about what He God had done in creation and asks Job is he could have done all that. He shares with him secrets that no one else but the Creator would have known.

When Job sees who God is, in all His glory and power,  he falls prostrate before His God and says, "Who in the world am I to ever question what you do.  I repent in dust cloth and ashes."

And God, with his steadfast love and faithfulness, lifts Job up and restores double of everything that he had lost in the plagues and fires.  Double everything except children......

The truth that the book of Job taught me was that I don't need answers to "Why?"  I just need to know my God.  I need to look for Him all around me.  See Him in his creation.  See the wonder of his creation....the universe, the earth, the animals, the flowers, birds, insects, me.

I need to let God be God and trust him .... the God of the universe, the God who cares about each of us and has a perfect plan for me, for my life, for my future.  I needed to forget about me and my dreams, desires and plans and realize it is all about Him and what He did in sending Jesus to die for His people—His sacrifice.

When I realized that, the bitterness left.  I knew I was in good hands and who was I to question God, to not trust Him.  I was able to relax.  I was able to sleep better.  I was able to have joy and smile. You see God is in control and whatever He brings into my life, He will give me the strength, the courage, the help I need to go through it.  And through it all, I will  thank Him for bringing the circumstance, the difficult person, the hard things into my life so I am pushed to lean on him, trust him, and thank him for what I see him doing in my life.

After all, His steadfast love and faithfulness will never let me down.  Never.

No comments:

Post a Comment